Board seeks to hire firm to plan new Hobson Park

Board seeks to hire firm to plan new Hobson Park

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Remember all that talk a few years back about development of neighborhood “pocket parks” for residents to enjoy?

Members of the North Providence Land Trust last week revived what they called an “everlasting” conversation about a planned Hobson Avenue Park near where it intersects with Central Avenue.

Chairman Ken Conte said a site plan was created by 4-Site LLC for a small park including landscaping, vegetative pergolas and fencing. He said he would like to proceed with that conceptual plan and take the next step to hire an engineering firm for actual construction plans.

Conte said that next step would require a request for proposals, as the work would likely cost more than $5,000. Members decided they needed to speak with Purchasing Agent Michael Mooney about putting a bid out for an engineering firm.

Members noted that there have been ongoing questions about exactly what the park on the small town property should be and what kind of crowd it would attract. They envision a low-traffic spot without a lot of children. Another concern, officials have said in the past, is whether such parks would be adequately maintained with all of the other demands on town staff.

Also of note, they said, is that one of the neighbors who previously opposed the creation of the park no longer lives on the street. Back in 2017, Conte emphasized that the same two people kept speaking up in opposition to the facility, while others expressed enthusiastic support for it.

Three years ago, Council President Dino Autiello questioned the planned development of pocket parks as a new type of neighborhood amenity, saying such facilities sound good in theory but can leave residents with an unwanted burden and nuisance.

Pocket parks are small parks that are accessible to the public. They are typically developed on vacant properties or small pieces of land that have little use. Land Trust members have said in the past that the Hobson Avenue park, on a 10,000-square-foot town-owned parcel, is the only one they’re pursuing as a board, but others have been discussed at length.

The hope is still that the lot will one day have a public use, said Conte. More than a year ago, the town completed significant landscaping to address reports of poison ivy and dead trees, and a survey was done.

Much of the opposition to this concept comes from neighbors who tend to start thinking they have rights to property next to them, said Conte during last Thursday’s Land Trust meeting. What they often fail to realize is that improving a public property brings up property values in the area. A neighbor was upset about the trees taken down, he said, but officials had the tree warden with them for the work.

Members envision a sitting area with some fresh grass. Some past plans have also included a gazebo for community nights.

Conte said taking the next step to the construction level will give a better idea on what the work would cost so the board can determine a budget. Conte noted that their funds have been depleted quite a bit, particularly with the planned purchase of a riverfront recreation property, so it might take another grant to get the Hobson Avenue work done.


What Mr Conte fails to state is that the Land trust have NOT got permission to put a park in a residential area. Yet again he forgets that the town has a petition containing 18 names of neighbours who do not want this park. Additionally, he's going against town ordinance 16-010 by trying to do this project piecemeal.Wouldnt a competent project manager address all these issues before proceeding.

I can't believe it's actually been four years since the vacant lot next to our home was desecrated by the town's land trust. The trees and foliage have since grown back, and it is once again a beautiful, shaded area filled with small wildlife and many species of birds. And yet the land trust in our town is STILL attempting to construct a "pocket park." They definitely have a bee in their bonnet with this project.
We have been to several town meetings over the years to protest this, we have brought signed petitions from neighbors who do NOT wish to have such a "park" on our street, and we've gone to land trust meetings to express our disdain. This woodland area is right next to our home, and we certainly do not want a public park there. I'm not comfortable with having a "community gazebo" under my bedroom window!! There is also the matter of safety. Cars peal around Central Avenue onto Hobson, exactly where this area is located. And wouldn't parking be an issue if people are coming from another area? This is a residential area where we know our neighbors and we all have yards--there doesn't need to be a PUBLIC area for ANYONE to congregate in these uncertain times. I can't believe that while there are some children don't have lunches because they aren't in school, we are in the middle of a serious pandemic, our country is falling to pieces, and the Town of North Providence wants to spend money on a "pocket park" that no one wants. Where is the logic in this? Can't anything stay green and wild any more? I always thought land trusts were meant to keep areas green and were interested in conservation. Not this one.