EP Council talks Sabin Point boat ramp, rec center, old Oldham property

Appointments are made to new Charter Commission

By Mike Rego
Posted 3/22/23

EAST PROVIDENCE — If concepts come to fruition, the dilapidated boat ramp at Sabin Point Park in Riverside will soon be replaced with a modern, more functional kayak launch.

The City …

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EP Council talks Sabin Point boat ramp, rec center, old Oldham property

Appointments are made to new Charter Commission


EAST PROVIDENCE — If concepts come to fruition, the dilapidated boat ramp at Sabin Point Park in Riverside will soon be replaced with a modern, more functional kayak launch.

The City Council, led by Ward 4 member Rick Lawson, broached the subject at its March 21 meeting. Then, Lawson, in whose district Sabin Point is located, sought the input of Department of Public Works Director Dan Borges.

The condition of the boat ramp needs to be addressed regardless, both agreed. Lawson, taking up the matter following input he received from a recent community gathering he held in his ward, suggested the location be converted into the kayak launch.

Lawson said from the feedback he’s received from constituents, “people like the idea.” He noted there really isn’t enough room to maneuver and park a boat trailer at the location, which has limited parking spots. He also pointed to boater access of existing ramps located at Haines Park at the Riverside border with Barrington as well as one located at Bold Point Park off Warren Avenue, which is scheduled to be upgraded in the near future.

Borges said he has already contacted the engineering firm the city hired to consult on how best to approach remedying the existing situation. The firm is looking into the feasibility of turning the location in the kayak launch.

Because the proposal is still in the early stages of development and the scope of the project is yet known, no costs were discussed. Either way, the boat ramp will be removed and additional parking spaces will be created.

“We are going to reconfigure the boat ramp into a kayak launch,” Lawson said when reached after the meeting. “The reasoning is there is no parking for trailers and the ramp needs repairs. When we looked at allocating funds to repair it, it didn’t make sense to keep it a boat ramp. Haines Park is two miles down the road and is still in Riverside. They have a beautiful boat ramp maintained by DEM (Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management) with plenty of parking. We needed to do something with the ramp for safety reasons, so why not do something that makes more sense.”

Rec center ARPA money
During a discussion on an unrelated note, the DaSilva’s director of administration Napolean Gonsalves informed the Council the mayor planned to allocate some $10 million in federal COVID-19 pandemic response American Rescue Plan Act funds towards the proposed Recreation/Community Center on the Robert Rock/Senior Center grounds at the intersection of Waterman and Pawtucket Avenues.

Lawson then clarified where the monies for the center could come from, adding the $3 million in infrastructure monies the city received also from the federal government via the state’s Congressional delegation led by departing District 1 Representative David Cicilline.

DaSilva pegged the initial price tag of center to be some $45 million when he made his formal presentation to the Council at its meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 21.

The some 61,000 square foot building would be a two-story structure built around a large gymnasium on the first floor and an elevated walking track on the second floor, similar to the facility inside the new East Providence High School across Pawtucket Avenue. Also like the new EPHS, the center would have an auditorium/theatre, which would include seating for audiences of over 300, a 50-foot by 20-foot stage and a sound booth.

Unlike the new high school, but akin to the old building, the center would have an Olympic-style pool with eight-lanes and bleachers for spectators. It would also have an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant lift and restrooms/bathing areas.

Former Oldham property
The Council followed up on a move made by its counterpart School Committee late in 2022, conveying ownership the former Oldham Elementary School building and property on Bullocks Point Avenue back to the city.

As stated in the resolution, the aim is to turn the former school, which was shuttered by the state-appointed Budget Commission back in 2013, into a “a commercial incubator space allowing residents the opportunity to start a new business and eventually move off site and grow.”

Since being closed it has been used as a storage facility by the district, which has maintained it pretty much in the least costly manner possible. There has been some thought the building may need to be brought back on line as an active place of learning if district enrollment increases, but upgrades about to begin at Waddington likely mean that is no longer a concern.

At the Committee’s final meeting of the calendar year and of that body’s two-year term Tuesday night, Dec. 13, retiring At-Large member and chairman Joel Monteiro, who presided over his last meeting of the body after serving for 10 consecutive years, said the building “has become a liability to the district.”

Superintendent of Schools Sandra Forand supported that assessment when quizzed on the topic by Ward 4 Committee member Jessica Beauchaine, where the original Oldham building is located. Forand agreed with the notion it would take multi-millions of dollars to bring the building up to modern codes and standards set for educational use.

When shuttered a decade ago the old Oldham was deemed to need a new roof and other improvements that were estimated at the time to cost upwards of $2 million.

Students and staff were initially moved to the former Meadowcrest building and eventually to the Waddington Elementary School as part of further restructuring. The Meadowcrest/Oldham location later became an extension of the expanded Pre-Kindergarten/Early Learning program in the district.

The Council approved one appointment presented to it by the office of Mayor Bob DaSilva requiring its confirmation and was alerted to two others where its backing was not needed.

The appointment of Paul Moura, the former state representative and long-time Waterfront Commission member until he stepped in away from that position about two years ago, to the Canvassing Authority for a six-year term running from March 3, 2023 to March 1, 2029 received Council support.

DaSilva made it known to the body he had appointed of his own accord John Faria, the veteran city political operative and DaSilva ally, and Valerie Perry, the former City Clerk and City Councilor, to the soon-to-be seated Charter Review Commission each for an eight-year term running from March 14, 2023 to March 14, 2031.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.