Man donates land, then sues to get it back

monument

monument

The Warren Land Conservation Trust has returned a large tract of land to the man who donated it last year, after he sued over a large monument erected on the property.
In July 2012, East Providence resident John Robert Pesce donated 14.7 acres of land at the end of Kelly Street in memory of his father Giovanni. Mr. Pesce, who onws Consolidated Concrete in East Providence, bought the land about 20 years ago from one of his drivers, unconcerned that as wetlands it was mostly unbuildable. It’s assessed at about $15,000 by the Town of Warren.

“I always thought it was just a nice place, a nice view,” he said. When his father passed away, “I thought we’ll make a memorial.”

So last year he looked for an organization to donate to and found the trust. President and treasurer Marilyn Mathison gratefully accepted the gift, agreeing at the time to grant his request to install a “plaque” there in honor of Mr. Pesce’s late father.
“I expected a plaque,” she said at the time.
In late 2012, though, trust officials were surprised to find that a large granite monument marked “John Pesce Memorial Park” had been installed without permission. It included a five or six-foot wide granite slab surrounded by field stones mortared into place. It didn’t sit well with trust members.
“I don’t like the idea of calling it a park,” Ms. Mathison said at the time. “It’s open space; I’m also worried that calling it a park is going to affect (the trust’s) insurance.”
The scale of the memorial was also much too large, she said, and there was a question of whether the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) needed to sign off on the monument’s installation (Mr. Pesce said it does not).

After it became clear that keeping the plaque on the property could be a problem, Mr. Pesce sued the trust for the return of the land. In late October, the trust’s board of directors met and voted 4 to 1 to deed it back over. The transfer was recorded at Warren Town Hall last week.

The monument is still at the Kelly Street property, and Mr. Pesce said it will stay there as “it doesn’t need CRMC approval.” As for the future of the land itself, he said, he will still eventually donate it, but plans to find a different organization.

“It’s not going to be the trust,” he said.

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