North Providence wins boating center grant for Camp Meehan

North Providence wins boating center grant for Camp Meehan

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Money for the transformation of Camp Meehan keeps pouring in, with another $182,500 headed North Providence’s way to complete a top-to-bottom renovation of the former arts and crafts building on the property off Douglas Avenue.

The building will see a complete overhaul, said Mayor Charles Lombardi, with money used to convert it into a place where the town’s boating program can fit comfortably.

“This is just another enhancement to our Camp Meehan Overlook at Notte Park,” said Lombardi.

The mayor said he, grant writer Lisa Andoscia and others met with representatives from the Champlin Foundation at Camp Meehan/Notte Park, explaining further what they’re trying to accomplish.

“They have been very generous in the past, they support my vision for the preservation of open space, and I am grateful to the Champlin Foundation,” he said. “The renovation of this building to support our marine trades program just complements this jewel of a property.”

The money from Champlin will go to the “renovation of the former arts and crafts building,” according to Champlin Foundation Executive Director Nina Stack, and the revamped building will be used as “the new boating and fishing educational center” for the town.

Lombardi said Henry Marciano deserves immense thanks for spearheading the creation of a marine trades program in North Providence, and that growing program, one of just three in the state, was a big contributor in securing the grant. Local students are getting jobs in the marine trades field and the program has also helped attendance in the district, he said.

The award of $182,500 brings the total the town has received in grant funding for Camp Meehan/Notte Park, mainly from Champlin and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, to nearly $1.5 million since 2012, including the $500,000 purchase price that year.

The town will go out to bid to hire an architect to plan the best layout for the new building, said Lombardi. That layout could include a slight outward expansion as well as a second floor on the structure, he said, as the existing structure will likely be torn down to the foundation. The building will hold a few of the boats built by students in the program. Those boats get use on the Wenscott Reservoir as part of the marine trades program at the middle school and high school level, he said.

The building will also feature some space for arts and crafts programming, reviving the former use a bit.

As Lombardi and other town officials continue to make their case for more money, the mayor said he keeps going back to the fact that North Providence has the least amount of open space per capita of any community in Rhode Island. That narrative really seems to resonate with those who decide on giving out the grants, he said, and a tour of the property seals the deal.

“This is a breathless, a beautiful place,” he said.

The Breeze reported last week on the completion of a new $420,000 amphitheater, paid for through Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management grants. The Camp Meehan/Notte Park property now hosts numerous activities throughout the year, with musical events set to start at the amphitheater next year. Next to the amphitheater is a grant-funded gazebo, and next to the gazebo is the Meehan Overlook, an overhauled recreation building now used as a facility for town events and rentals. That building was renovated through a combination of grant funds and money from the police department’s $60 million settlement with Google in 2012.