Friday 08 July 2022
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A new series of GoLocal investigations examines the condition of Providence parks and recreation facilities.
Despite promises and press conferences, many of Providence’s taxpayer-funded spaces — earmarked for public use — are unkempt, littered and derelict.
This week GoLocal visited Hope High School, one of Providence’s high schools that is used for recreation throughout much of Providence.
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High school games, youth leagues, and open day activities are all played at Hope High.
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The facility includes open fields, a baseball field, a softball field, a running track around a soccer field, an outdoor basketball court and eight tennis courts.
The playing fields are inferior to suburban and private schools, but the fields have been cut and most of the worn areas have been patched.
The other recreation areas are badly derelict or poorly maintained.
Neither condition appears to have been caused by abuse or vandalism, but is more likely due to lack of maintenance and regular upgrades by city and school officials.
The track – home of the legendary Hope track team – is badly damaged. Wear and tear has resulted in pitting of the track and at one end of the track three of the lanes are covered in moss making them unsafe at any speed.
The outdoor recreational basketball court has no nets and the court has several jumps with growing grass. The court is not maintained.
“Here’s my take. City recreation facilities are critical to youth. These facilities are safe havens for them to exercise their bodies while finding clarity in their minds,” said Hope High School graduate Anthony Sanders and All-State Sprinter, who won 4×400 relays.
“These spaces are a place for youth to form relationships and keep them away from negativity. If we can invest millions of dollars in visitor centers and streets, we can certainly invest in our youth,” added Sanders, the founder and CEO of Awoken premium clothing.
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Can everything be done right?
In 2020, GoLocal reported that the tennis courts at Hope High were renovated in 2019 at a cost of $75,357.
The courts collapsed after just a year – most of the time the courts were idle due to the winter months and the coronavirus lockdown.
The company awarded the contract by the Board of Contract & Supply was JG Coffey Company, LLC of Bristol, Rhode Island. The board is chaired by Mayor Jorge Elorza.
Now, two years later, five of the eight tennis courts are damaged – cracks spanning many of the courts. In some places, grass grows in the cracks.
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Who maintains the facility?
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) acquired Providence Schools in 2019. However, it assumes no responsibility for the condition of the leisure facilities.
Victor Morente, spokesman for RIDE, told GoLocal in an email: “PPSD [Providence Public School Department] manages the maintenance and upkeep of the Hope High School grounds. They do this regularly to ensure the area welcomes visitors. A representative went out today and reported that the site was clean and free of debris. With this in mind, we continuously assess the needs of school facilities in general and make improvements.
While the state has taken over the schools, issues such as maintenance and accountability for performance are rarely held accountable.
School committee members have repeatedly resigned, and in three years there have been three providential superintendents. Currently dr. Javier Montañez in this position.
The Providence School Department’s Christopher Petisce, the executive director of finance, did not respond to inquiries about the annual cost of maintaining the facility.
NEXT WEEK: GoLocal will be reporting on another facility.