E.P. Council gets capital projects update as new fiscal year nears

Rec Field expansion, Pierce Stadium bathrooms receive focus

By Mike Rego
Posted 10/20/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — With other capital improvements expected to come on the books shortly upon the start of the new fiscal year in November, the City Council requested and received a timely …

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E.P. Council gets capital projects update as new fiscal year nears

Rec Field expansion, Pierce Stadium bathrooms receive focus

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — With other capital improvements expected to come on the books shortly upon the start of the new fiscal year in November, the City Council requested and received a timely update at its October 19 meeting from the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva on the status of previously approved expenditures.

City Finance Director Malcolm Moore told the council the administration was tracking a total of 101 items from years past, starting in 2016. Of those, 51 have been completed and closed out. Another 46 remained in progress. Of those 32 have at least had a purchase order submitted or incurred expenses while 14 have neither of those things, meaning they’re still in either the planning or RFP (Request for Proposal) stage.

Moore continued, one project has not been started and the allocations for three will be turned back to the fund balance because council approval was not sought nor given. Those projects were for Sweetland House repairs on the senior center campus at Waterman Avenue, various park upgrades and a request to purchase stainless steel road sanders.

A correction was also made to the list, at the behest of Ward 1 member and council president Bob Britto, who noted the dog park at Hunts Mills in Rumford, situated in his district, was completed at least a year ago.

Of the summary (see attached) he presented in general, Moore said, “I know the council always wants an update and rightfully so,” adding the administration has been meeting regularly to discuss ongoing projects and “we feel we’re in a pretty good place to report to you where we’re at.” He said as well, “Most have a pretty good explanation about why they haven’t been closed out.”

Parks projects
A couple of the projects still open talked about in more specifics last week were on the bathrooms inside Pierce Stadium proper and plans to renovate the Riverside Rec Field.

The Pierce bathrooms project was approved in 2016 and basically completed in 2018 and 2019. However, Moore said the facilities, especially those on the perimeter of the stadium, have suffered from vandalism. That situation still needs remedy and funding is available, so that is why it is considered an active project.

Britto suggested that was an incorrect way of defining its status, saying “If you complete a project, it’s complete. So if somebody comes back and vandalizes it, it doesn’t re-open the project I would think, personally. Because if you come back and say it’s still open it appears that the project was never actually completed in the first place…I think it gives a false impression of all these jobs you may have as in progress, which actually could be completed.”

In addition, the bathrooms inside the stadium do remain in need of repair, said Department of Public Works Director Dan Borges in response to a question from Ward 2 Councilor Anna Sousa, she repping the district where Pierce is located.

The Rec Field matter, brought up last week by At-Large member Bob Rodericks and which twice received support from this council and a previous incarnation of the body, hasn’t begun for a few reasons, specifically due to concerns expressed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

In 2019, the current council added $100,000 to an approved allocation of $250,000 in FY2017 towards the construction of a parking lot between Riverside Middle School and the Rec Complex aimed at alleviating traffic in the densely populated Somerset Avenue neighborhood where the Rec complex is located.

The DaSilva administration approached the council in ’19 to include the construction of a new soccer field between the sites while decreasing the size of the proposed parking lot, bringing the total requested amount for the revised project to $350,000.

Borges said DEM approval has been the biggest hurdle to the effort, the state agency citing ground water and field elevation concerns. Borges added, however, “We’re 90 percent…almost there…We’re actively working to move this along.”

Additional active items of note include the ongoing South Broadway culvert replacement, which Moore said still requires some paving; the former VAMCO property on Bullocks Point Avenue in Riverside, which he noted is expected to be sold to an area non-profit to construct affordable housing units; and improvements to Weaver House on the library property at Grove Avenue, Moore saying three-quarters of the historic structure had been painted though the front porch much still be repaired. The director said the low bid for that element came in at $150,000, but only $100,000 was allocated.

Appropriation change
The council approved an amendment to the current FY22 Capital budget, previously approved by the body as part of the larger package of annual expenditures.

The council backed the removal of $17,765 for security cameras from the capital budget of the Crescent Park/Looff Carousel, which had garnered the money from another source, and shifted it for use for the same purpose at the senior center.

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