State rebids Providence parole office

40 Fountain St., Providence

NBC 10 News has learned the Chafee administration is going to go out for bid on new space to house the probation office in downtown Providence.

Local businesses and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce criticized plans to move the state's probation offices to 40 Fountain St.

The building was available, and it houses state functions already, but the proposal was not accepted by neighbors.

The administration said Monday it is going to seek alternative quarters.

"The Department of Administration will again -- and I repeat again -- go out to bid for the Providence office of probation and parole," Director of Administration Richard Licht said.

Licht said "again" because the lease already was submitted to anyone who wanted to house the office, but the only bidder originally was the Urban League, which is now selling its building.

Downtown businesses were not happy with the idea of the probation office moving into the center of town.

"The question is, is that the highest and best use of that land, right in the central business district, in terms of economic development and job creation and driving critical mass of small business entrepreneurs. Is that the best place?" said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

White is not one of those who feared that the presence of parolees and former prisoners on probation would present dangers to shoppers and workers.

Licht said those with those fears were off-base.

"We already have nine offices around the state -- two of them in downtown Providence, one in each courthouse. In addition, the public defender is downtown. The courts are downtown -- those are criminal courts as well as civil courts," Licht said.

Licht said the process for getting bids will take about 45 days.