Orca Aquatics staff

Staff from Orca Aquatics, which will make its home at the North Providence Pool and Fitness Center, are, from left, swim instructors Sydney Willis and Johanna Willis, and swim team coaches Wayne Willis and Dylon Willis.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A new rental agreement at the North Providence Pool & Fitness Center will bring more than $20,000 in revenue to the town annually, helping to offset the costs of running the building and continuing Mayor Charles Lombardi’s trend of making municipal facilities into money-making ventures.

The best part, said Lombardi, is that the $1,800-per-month agreement won’t interfere with current swimming programs and activities, including ones enjoyed by the town’s older residents and students, with swimming scheduled to happen in the evenings.

Orca Aquatics is a very active swim club, said the mayor, and he said he’s hoping this will “reactivate the program” lost when the North Providence Barracudas went offline, bringing fresh opportunities for local youth, particularly those who were part of those swim teams.

“To me, I think it’s great,” said Lombardi.

Johanna Willis, a resident of Attleboro, Mass., and owner and founder of the swim club, which she runs with the help of family members, said Orca will arrive in North Providence on Nov. 1. The program runs both swimming lessons and a fledgling swim team, she said, with a handful of people in North Providence already committing to join the swim team. Some Cranston members are also following, she said.

By taking the old Barracudas time slot of 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. weekdays, Willis said they’re not taking away availability for anyone else, including seniors, youth, and others in the general public. She said they’re hoping to see Barracudas swimmers come join them.

Orca will also run swim lessons on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the North Providence pool, said Willis.

“The mayor and people at the pool have been super accommodating,” she said.

The reason they’re moving from Cranston is that the pool there was only available Saturday and Sunday, with the high schools using it on weekdays.

“We are psyched,” said Willis of the move to North Providence.

The pool facility behind the North Providence Library on Mineral Spring Avenue remains what he considers the town’s “best-kept secret,” said Lombardi, and this will increase use of the facility and not cost taxpayers more in operational expenses. He said he checked in with staff first to confirm that the pool still needs to be kept running even when no one’s using it.

He said his only real concern here was that town swimmers not be pushed out of the pool by any program, and he said the Orcas will generally use it when others aren’t using it.

The pool reopened a year ago with revised rules and hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and traffic hasn’t returned close to pre-pandemic levels.

Lombardi has said operating the pool costs taxpayers more than $300,000 annually. Lombardi said he plans to revisit the $1,800-per-month agreement in six months to ensure the town is getting what it should.

Other money-making ventures by the town in recent months include event revenue at the Meehan Overlook at Notte Park, rental revenue at the former Marieville Elementary School, and selling off lots previously purchased from National Grid. The mayor is also in the process of selling off the town’s old public safety complex at 1967 Mineral Spring Ave. He said he expected to hear back from the would-be buyer on a development proposal this week.

Find contact information to sign up with Orca Aquatics at www.orcaaquaticsri.com .

(1) comment

fromthesideline

$1800.00/ month is a drop in the bucket when you consider the Town of North Providence ,(5 square miles), has in excess of $100 million annual budget. Then again I guess this was a good decision , since this lease will cover the Mayor's annual pay raise of $20,000.

https://www.valleybreeze.com/news/council-approves-pay-raises-for-mayor/article_ab7ca26e-b0d2-54d8-be44-a17826576b4a.html#tncms-source=login

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