Councilors: Town should be helping with new playgrounds

Councilors: Town should be helping with new playgrounds

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town Councilor Ray DeStefanis and his colleagues are urging local parent groups to reach out to them about playground needs at their schools, saying they shouldn’t have to be going to the lengths they’ve been taking to secure funding for equipment.

DeStefanis said it has never sat well with him to see parents raising funds to fix a community asset. The latest example is at Whelan Elementary School at 1440 Mineral Spring Ave., where the PTO group is trying to raise money for a new playground.

At the request of DeStefanis on Oct. 2, the council sent a letter to Mayor Charles Lombardi asking him to reach out to the Whelan community to ask what the town can do to meet the play needs at the school. The council also sent a letter to the School Department asking that education officials look at their budget to see what can be done to achieve a “safe playground environment” for the children at the school.

Fellow District 2 Councilor Ken Amoriggi read a lengthy letter from 20 members of the Whelan PTO citing the need for a better outdoor space to accommodate students and their “much-needed recreational activity.” The parent group cited a low risk of vandalism due to the school’s close proximity to Mineral Spring Avenue, adding that Whelan School is more than just an educational institution and “a central part of our community.”

Amoriggi commended Lombardi for his proposal to acquire new recreation space in District 2 to accommodate a new playground, adding that officials can do more to upgrade playground equipment.

DeStefanis said it often seems to him like there’s a “void” of sorts in communication, where he’ll hear about requests being put out there for certain items and people giving up when they don’t get a satisfactory answer. He and the council approved a letter to all PTO/PTA groups telling them to reach out any time to let them know that offices are “here, ready and available if they need us.”