Lombardi wants to purchase property across from NPHS

Lombardi wants to purchase property across from NPHS

Says it could address future education, public safety needs

NORTH PROVIDENCE - There is a serious stigma attached to the large plot of land across from North Providence High School, says Mayor Charles Lombardi, but the benefits of obtaining the land for the town might just be too big to ignore.

According to Lombardi, a committee charged with assessing future education needs in town met for the first time last Wednesday and members indicated an interest in the property that was previously at the center of a corruption scandal involving three former members of the Town Council. The three were previously convicted for their roles in accepting a $25,000 cash payment in exchange for a favorable vote on a zone change.

Lombardi believes the vacant property, which covers several acres, is big enough not only to house a future combined middle school, if needed, as well as a "mega" central public safety complex, if town officials eventually decide that such projects are right for the town.

"If the property had no history, I'd be all over it like a cheap suit," said Lombardi. "It does have a history but I think buying it would be the right thing to do to protect the town for all future needs for both public safety and education."

Added Lombardi, "if this was purely a business deal, I would have done it already."

According to Lombardi, the former junkyard property on Mineral Spring Avenue is currently in receivership with Ferrucci Russo P.C. The mayor said that attorneys have approached town officials to say that the property could be theirs for about $1.2 million.

With the $300,000 owed to the town by the owners of the property, plus a potential reimbursement from the state for the purchase of a property used for education, the mayor thinks that the eventual price tag for the town could go down to $600,000 or less.

If town officials do eventually decide to build a central public safety station, they could potentially close other stations, for a savings both in operational costs and selling the properties. They could do the same if a centralized school eventually allows town and school officials to shut down smaller neighborhood schools, he said.

A preliminary school reconfiguration plan revealed last winter called for possibly closing five elementary schools, using Greystone Elementary School for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, converting the two middle schools into schools for grades 1-4, and building a new middle school for grades 5-8.

The property across from the high school is "the best place" for either a police and fire complex or a school, or both, said Lombardi, because it's "dead center" in the middle of North Providence and "we don't have anywhere else" for such facilities.

The history of the property "almost ties your hands" when it comes to the town taking it over, said Lombardi, but any "negative perception" from a potential deal should be cast aside if buying it proves to be the best for the future of the town. Like the town's purchase of Camp Meehan last year, residents would benefit for decades to come, he said.

The town's needs right now "are more demanding for education" than for a new public safety complex, said Lombardi, meaning that a new school will probably come first if the property is ever developed. The town's Police Department has money available in its Google fund to buy the property for a new police headquarters, said the mayor, but he would not be open to that idea unless it could be a headquarters for both police and fire.

Comments

Buying property for future education is interesting but off mark. Our schools need higher quality teachers, a new school committee and attention on the under performing schools (all of the schools). Tying this property into education is a smoke screen at best.
Yes the town's needs are more demanding for education as in quality of education which is greatly lacking.
Until the Mayor and the school district develop a 5 year plan this is another waste of critical resources. No plan, no deal.