By Ted Hayes - East Bay RI
A Provincetown, Mass. shipwreck hunter has pulled out of a plan to bring a pirate museum and conservation and research center to the Thames Street Armory.
Barry Clifford, who had been chosen by the Newport Redevelopment Agency as a partner in plans to renovate the landmark structure, officially withdrew his plan for the Armory Tuesday afternoon, saying the process had just become too political.
“It just got way too confusing,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve got other options, but it’s too bad. We definitely would have come to Newport if it hadn’t gotten out of hand like this.”
Mr. Clifford had been on the fence about quitting the project for nearly a month, and in fact submitted a withdrawal letter to the city on Thursday, Jan. 21. However, he was persuaded by some city officials to “put the letter in a drawer.” That changed Tuesday when one of his representatives had a meeting with city officials that did not go well, he said. That's when he decided to re-submit the letter.
“They knew where I stood, but in the end there was just too much going on. We don’t have time for this,” he said.
Specifically, Mr. Clifford was referring to several issues that have sprung up around the Armory over the past several weeks.
They include differences of opinion on what the best use of the building is, questions raised by some over Mr. Clifford’s financial plan, and other questions about whether the Ann Street Pier would be available for use by his research vessel, the Vast Explorer II.
He said the project needn’t have become so convoluted.
“All we were really looking to do was rent the space,” he said.
“We weren’t looking to really get into a major development. But then to find they want you to spend millions of dollars and then have to rent the building ? It was too much.”
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