Lincoln officials not enthusiastic about selling to NP

Lincoln officials not enthusiastic about selling to NP

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Mayor Charles Lombardi’s proposal to buy a small piece of land from the town of Lincoln to expand Camp Meehan/Notte Park is not moving as quickly as he’d originally hoped.

When the mayor approached Lincoln Town Administrator Joseph Almond with the idea in late May, he said he was looking to submit a grant to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management by June 5.

Almond said at the time that the best they could do by early June was to begin negotiating the terms of the purchase between the two towns.

More than a month later, Lincoln Town Council members tell The Breeze that they haven’t had any conversations with Lombardi about the land sale since he originally wrote to them asking for a meeting to begin the conversation.

“There has been nothing presented to, or by the council to vote on,” said Town Council President Keith Macksoud. The council’s July meeting is scheduled for next week.

Lombardi told The Breeze his staff has been working on a more formal and detailed proposal, and that he's looking forward to meeting with the Lincoln Town Council soon to discuss the matter.

Though councilors expressed general support for the land sale when the idea was raised in May, Macksoud said some Lincoln residents are concerned about the move.

“After this story ran in late May, I have had a lot of calls and conversations with the residents that live close to Camp Meehan regarding what Mayor Lombardi proposed, and they are not in favor of the town selling any of its open space and would prefer for us to leave the property as is,” he said.

Macksoud said he explained to his constituents that the mayor is looking for abutting property and that the land will remain open space.

“Some say there’s no reason to sell it then,” he said, “Frankly they make a point. If there’s open space, what’s the difference if Lincoln owns it or North Providence owns it,” he said.

Macksoud said they haven’t heard more from Lombardi regarding “what he really wants” in terms of location, size and use.

District 4 Councilor Pamela Azar said none of the constituents she has heard from have been in favor of selling land to North Providence.

Lombardi’s goal is to further expand Camp Meehan, what he calls the “jewel of recreation in North Providence.” The park abuts more than 80 acres of open land in Lincoln.

Lincoln originally purchased the bulk of the land for more than $2 million. Macksoud said they’re unsure how selling land would impact an existing bond, or if it would be allowed under the terms of the bond.

North Providence already uses some Lincoln-owned land at the park.

Almond said any land sold would only be land already in North Providence or directly abutting the line. He said he would not agree to sell off a large portion of Lincoln’s conservation land.

Any sale between municipalities would not change town lines, and would need to be approved by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Lincoln officials said they need a more specific proposal outlining what North Providence is looking for in the land sale.

“More homework has to be done,” Macksoud said. “We’re looking to see what (Lombardi) wants, and if there’s any appetite for it. We don’t know what he’s looking for or why.”

Almond said he is willing to pursue the sale, while Lombardi said he remains committed to buying the parcel from Lincoln to add to North Providence’s open space.

"I'm looking forward to sitting down with leaders in Lincoln to discuss this further," he said. A date for the meeting has not been finalized yet.