Town orders operators of shuttered senior center to leave by Friday

Town orders operators of shuttered senior center to leave by Friday

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town officials are moving to evict the operators of the Salvatore Mancini Resource and Activity Center.

In a letter hand-delivered to members of the senior center’s board of directors last Friday, Sept. 8, Mayor Charles Lombardi notified the board that it was no longer abiding by the terms of its lease with the town after essentially shutting down services last week.

“We understand that you have previously laid off your employees, and have now ceased operations, and have been advised by the Department of Elderly Affairs that you will no longer be entrusted with the responsibility of providing daily meal service for our seniors,” he wrote.

The town is giving the nonprofit agency until this Friday, Sept. 15, to remove “any and all property belonging to your organization, and otherwise completely vacate the premises,” wrote Lombardi. Any property remaining after Friday will be presumed abandoned and will be disposed of accordingly, he said.

To the extent that there are any damages to the property, town officials will advise the senior center board of those damages and the board will be liable for the amount required to repair them, said Lombardi.

According to the longstanding agreement with the Mancini Center, the lease with the town is automatically terminated when operations cease.

“In accordance with Section 13 (of the lease), we intend to record with the North Providence Land Evidence Records an affidavit setting forth the termination of your interest in the lease, and will provide you with a copy of the affidavit once it has been recorded,” wrote Lombardi.

The mayor and Chief of Staff Dick Fossa inspected the Mancini Center premises on Atlantic Boulevard last Thursday, and the mayor said he will notify the board soon about the results of that inspection.

It’s unfortunate, wrote Lombardi, that “the actions of a few individuals” in not releasing certain financial information requested by town officials led the Town Council to de-fund the center in June.

Executive Director Karen Testa Leone deferred comment on the situation to board member John Fleming, who could not be reached this week.

Lombardi told Fleming and the board that, “despite the failure of your organization,” the town has resolved to maintain necessary services. Food services officially kicked off at the new recreation building at Camp Meehan/Notte Park on Monday, he said.

“While we have made interim arrangements to do so at Camp Meehan, it is our intention to occupy the former senior center premises and resume providing, at that location, all the services and amenities our seniors richly deserve and have come to expect,” he wrote to Fleming.

Meghan Connelly, chief of program development for the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs, said in a letter dated last Thursday, Sept. 7, to Lombardi saying that the agency was notified on Aug. 31 that staff at the Mancini Center were planning to suspend the meal site after Sept. 6.

“Working collaboratively, Blackstone Health, the Department of Elderly Affairs and the town of North Providence were able to plan for an alternative meal site with minimal disruption in service to clients,” she wrote.

Based on conversations with Mancini Center staff on Sept. 5, “it is clear we have been and likely will continue to receive conflicting messages regarding (the center’s) level of service moving forward,” wrote Connelly. As a result, Sept. 6 was the final date of service at the Mancini Center.

The dispute over the funding and operation of the Mancini Center has dragged on for three years as town officials have repeatedly said that the center wasn’t providing all documentation on the center’s finances. They questioned discrepancies in the financial information they were provided, including on bingo revenues.

The board at the Mancini Center took the town to court over the matter.

Town officials had proposed a takeover agreement for Oct. 1, but board members gave no indication about whether they would accept it, instead saying that they would shut down operations Sept. 6 if they couldn’t reach a deal.

The Town Council voted in this year’s budget deliberations to cut the $510,000 the town previously provided to the center for its $700,000 budget.

Testa and volunteers initially said they would try to keep operating the center without the town funding.

Lombardi says he thinks he can run the center on about half of its previous $700,000 budget.

Comments

Wouldn't the $185k that the former acting chief of police got as a kiss in the mail on his way out the door, for essentially NOT doing his jog, methinks that $$ could have been put to better use, like serving our seniors...

Strange days indeed, most peculiar...

Well, I guess we know who the new Executive Director will be until a new Acting Executive Director is appointed.