DEM grant for $400,000 might complete work at Camp Meehan

DEM grant for $400,000 might complete work at Camp Meehan

NORTH PROVIDENCE - This town was one of only six communities in the state to receive the highest amount of $400,000 in grant funding from the Department of Environmental Management last month.

The local grant award brings the total received for the purchase and improvement of Camp Meehan to $1,620,904, according to Mayor Charles Lombardi, an amount that he says has far exceeded his wildest dreams when the town purchased the property back in 2012.

"No, I did not (envision this amount), but I also knew right from the beginning that it was the largest tract of land left in the town and it was the right thing for us to attain it," he said.

The latest $400,000 grant will be used toward the ongoing reconstruction of the town's main recreation building on the Camp Meehan property and construction of a new camp pavilion nearby.

According to Lombardi, this grant could well mean that taxpayers are completely off the hook for improvements at the recreation spot, but he won't know for sure until construction is complete and/or if the town gets additional grants for the park.

"Hopefully all the funds that we've received will cover the majority of the renovations that we're planning at the site," he said. "We'll continue to get creative to get any money out there to help us complete this project 100 percent."

Town officials are currently taking pre-bids on a number of jobs at the Meehan recreation building. Final bids are due June 12, so they're encouraging contractors to come to North Providence Town Hall to inspect the plans so they know what the project is all about.

Lombardi decided not to award the entire overhaul of the recreation building to one company, instead choosing to "piecemeal" various jobs to save money. He anticipates that the $1.1 million left after the $500,000 purchase of the Meehan property to be stretched to get an additional $200,000 of work or more done.

There are a number of town workers with the expertise to get certain jobs done on the property, said the mayor, so why not use them?

Lisa Andoscia, the town's grant writer with the Rosewood Consulting Firm, has "been very aggressive" obtaining funds for the town, said Lombardi. The total obtained by the town for Camp Meehan includes:

* $345,000 from the Champlin Foundations back in 2012.

* $300,000 in DEM recreation grants in 2012.

* $100,000 in DEM trails grants, also in 2012.

* And $176,000 in renovation funding from the Champlin Foundations in 2013.

* Another $299,904 came for construction of a police substation at the main recreation building last year. That funding came from the police department's 2012 Google windfall.

A separate $57,000 in small grant funding from the DEM, also announced last month, will pay for resurfacing of tennis courts and beach improvements at the neighboring Notte Park. Lombardi said he plans to take the same approach there as he is at Camp Meehan, having town workers do what they can before the job goes out to bid.

Town officials paid $500,000 in June of 2012 for the 15.5-acre 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 entire purchase price has since been paid off with grant funding.

The mayor was long opposed to prior plans for a condo development at Camp Meehan, fighting the project for years before eventually initiating the purchase of the property.

Comments

While this is all well and good, it sure would be nice to drive down a North Providence street without hitting a pothole.