NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town’s widespread recreation facility upgrades now include Evans Field on Route 44 and Stephen Olney Park off Smithfield Road.
The work at Evans Field at 550 Smith St., including new Little League fields and revamped tennis and basketball courts, will be a complete rebuild and reconstruction, says Mayor Charles Lombardi, while Olney Park will have work done on three fields, plus a concession stand and construction of new baseball cages.
The work will be funded through the town’s American Rescue Plan Act money.
Town Councilor Mario Martone, updating the full council recently on the public services subcommittee’s work, shared about the more in-depth plan for both park facilities, which have seen their share of wear and tear in recent years.
The subcommittee also took comments from members of the public at that subcommittee meeting, he said, and residents shared how they would like to see remaining ARPA funds used to develop a new indoor recreation center, to install lights on several local athletic fields, and to update track facilities at Ricci Middle School, among a few other ideas.
Martone said that meeting revealed that there still hasn’t been an official study done on North Providence field use to inform future decisions, even as plans move forward on new athletic fiels at Coletti Farm and the former Pate Construction property. The Coletti project off Mineral Spring Avenue is closer to being done, he said, as Pate off Ivan Street is waiting on permitting from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Evans Field, in particular, has been a target of vandalism in recent years, with council members proposing everything from increased police patrols to adding surveillance cameras.
Asked this week if the town ever installed the cameras, Lombardi said it didn’t happen, and if they did decide to move forward with such a plan, he’s not sure they would publicize it as part of town officials’ ongoing efforts to protect and upgrade North Providence’s public recreation assets.
Asked if the “broken windows theory” typically ascribed to the idea that properties that are damaged and not fixed lead to further vandalism and whether it might also apply to a facility such as Evans Field, the mayor said he believes these are two separate issues. Park vandalism is often done by young people as they are hanging out in the facilities at night, he said.
How about finishing the baseball field at the high school? Dishgraceful.
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