NP seeks another $400,000 for fields, boating center

NP seeks another $400,000 for fields, boating center

One of three fields at Captain Stephen Olney Park that would receive new lights, scoreboard and sprinklers if the town receives a $100,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town officials are seeking two grants totaling $400,000 from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to fund upgrades to local baseball fields and develop a new boating center.

Grant writer Lisa Andoscia was set to present the town’s latest grant requests to the Town Council on Tuesday evening, Dec. 5. Mayor Charles Lombardi’s priorities were to submit:

• A small recreational grant of $100,000 to fund new outdoor lights at the three town baseball/softball fields where there are currently no lights, as well as three new electronic scoreboards and upgrades to sprinkler systems.

The three fields, including two 60-foot (infield) baseball fields and a 90-foot field, are in Captain Stephen Olney Park off Smithfield Road. There is a “dire need” for improvements at the fields, said Andoscia.

• A large recreational grant of $300,000 to renovate and expand the former arts and crafts building at Camp Meehan on the Wenscott Reservoir into a new kayak and canoe boating and education center, as well as a new boat shed for boat storage and a small-boat launch on the reservoir.

“What is really cool is the boat building apprenticeship program has taken off with awesome strategic partners (allowing) our students to have a new maritime curriculum for a career path,” said Andoscia.

Last year’s win of a $400,000 grant for a new amphitheater at Camp Meehan/Notte Park brought the total grant funding invested by RIDEM and others to $1,235,500 since 2012, including $500,000 for the purchase of the former Camp Meehan property to add to the existing Notte park.

Andoscia and Lombardi note that the grant funding has helped make Camp Meehan a public hub of activity, with expanded recreational activities including boat building, special events such as Pumpkins in the Park and the town tree lighting, a town art festival, North Providence Youth Commission meetings, and an outing spot for local senior citizens.

Under the North Providence Comprehensive Plan, the town’s highest priority is redevelopment of the Camp Meehan property for expanded public recreation and open space use.

With financial help from RIDEM, Champlin Foundations and the Rhode Island Foundation, the Camp Meehan building on the Wenscott Reservoir waterfront off Douglas Avenue has been completely restored as “a year-round, community recreational facility,” states the grant application from the town.

The town’s “crown jewel” boasts new restrooms, a meeting hall and concession area, a comprehensive trail system accessible to the handicapped, an expanding beach, and the planned amphitheater.

The expansion of the former arts and crafts building would include a new foundation for a structure currently on stilts as well as an expansion from 576 square feet to a 900-square-foot boat and education building. It would include a restroom and storage space.

The converted boating and educational center would serve as classroom space for the local high school and middle school boat building program, restoration classes and a marine technology program, which is soon to be CTE (career and technical education) certified.

“North Providence does not have a vocational school in town, and this technical and vocational program has been in demand by the students and industry,” states the grant application. The North Providence boat building curriculum and apprenticeship program currently trains and educates students in the marine trades and works with the University of Rhode Island ship building program, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, the International Carpenters Union, and the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport.

The boating and educational center “will promote small-craft heritage through preservation of wooden boat lessons, education and outings,” states the application. “The boat shed will be used for storage purposes and will be located on the waterfront near the proposed boat launch.

“The master plan to develop the entire Camp Meehan property is important to our plans to meet the recreational needs of our residents and provide enhanced recreation opportunities for visitors from adjoining communities alike,” states the application.

Lombardi said Monday that the new boating center fits the comprehensive plan for Camp Meehan/Notte Park perfectly, “and hopefully we’re going to be successful and we’re going to get this money,” he said.

The mayor noted that these grants, just as past ones, would require a 20-percent match from the town, but officials continue to be “successful at biting that off” by using town personnel to complete in-kind services.

Lombardi said he initially questioned the idea of making North Providence the third community in the state with a marine trades program when retired Providence teacher Henry Marciano brought it to him four years ago, but said he’s been amazed to see it flourish and expand.

The new facilities on the reservoir would help grow the program further, while creating a new amenity for town residents to enjoy.

The former arts and crafts building at Camp Meehan would be converted into a new boating and education center if the town receives $300,000 in grant funds from RIDEM.

Comments

Sorely needed, this is a beautiful site, the upgrades will enhance this area and provide recreational opportunities for our youth. Great job to all!