Champlin grant boosts funding for Camp Meehan to $1 million

Champlin grant boosts funding for Camp Meehan to $1 million

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The Champlin Foundations has awarded the town another $176,000 in grant funding to improve the newly expanded Notte Park and Camp Meehan facility.

The gift, which will go toward completing upgrades to a newly acquired recreation building at Camp Meehan, brings the total outside funding obtained for the property, from both the Champlin Foundations and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), to $1,020,000, according to Mayor Charles Lombardi.

With the grant from the Champlin Foundations secured, there will be very "minimal costs" to local taxpayers for upgrades at the new park, according to Lombardi, and costs are only associated with "work we did on our own."

His administration is planning to seek more recreation grant funding from the DEM in the next week or two, said Lombardi.

"My goal is to complete the project at no cost to the taxpayer," he said.

The mayor said he is "almost as excited about" the grant funding as he is about the savings achieved by not having the Camp Meehan property turned into a condo project, as previously proposed. If that had happened, the town would likely have spent more than $1 million a year just to pay for the influx of children that would have come with the condos.

"That's a pretty good swing," he said.

The money from the Champlin Foundations, as well as possible additional grants from the DEM, would go toward completing "what was already planned and drawn up by the architects" for the new and improved Camp Meehan, said Lombardi.

Some of the additional funding from the Champlin Foundations and DEM will likely be used to create a new 2.5-mile walking trail system in the park, said Lombardi, a move local preservationists are excited about.

Other planned improvements at Camp Meehan include:

* Refurbishment of two run-down basketball courts

* A kayak/canoe center and launch area

* A beachfront restoration

* A new ballfield

* A gathering lawn with band shelter

* And a new parking facility with drop-off lane.

It was June of 2012 when town officials paid $500,000 for the 15.5 acres of former Camp Meehan property on the Wenscott Reservoir to Gateway Health, formerly Capital City Community Centers, but $300,000 came by way of the open space grant from the DEM.

The town's purchase of acreage formerly occupied by Camp Meehan gives local residents a "pristine" recreation spot that they'll be able to use far into the future, said Lombardi last year.

The mayor was long opposed to plans for a condo development at Camp Meehan, fighting the project for years before eventually initiating the purchase of the property. The North Providence Police Department has received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to build a police substation at the main recreation building on the Camp Meehan property. They'll use $300,000 in funds won through a settlement with Google last year to build the substation and staff it with two police officers.