January 17, 2019

Commentary: Bob Rodericks

"Where is our Voter-Approved Recreation Center?"


Voters in East Providence have overwhelmingly approved a plan to build a new city Recreation Center to replace the ancient former Riverside Junior High building. The current site at 100 Bullocks Point Avenue in Riverside was built in 1930. In 1967 the City opened a new Junior High at the current site on Forbes Street.

The East Bay Community Action Program took over the building in 2013. The Self-Help program is also housed in the 42,524 square foot building. The old, decrepit Junior High gym is used for recreation purposes. The city Recreation Department led by Recreation Director Diane Sullivan, Recreation Center Supervisor Rebecca Chace and small staff do a wonderful job offering residents a fitness facility, basketball court, and game room. The administrative offices of the Recreation Department are located within the Senior Center at 610 Waterman Avenue. Indoor recreational activities are held at the Recreation Center located at Bullocks Point Avenue.

The Riverside building, with little parking and horrible indoor conditions, has long outlived its usefulness to our city. The inside is totally unfit as a quality recreation center for our families and residents.

This is why local voters approved a proposal to build a new center to serve youth, families and elderly all in a modern, efficient facility. A committee of residents and officials planned to probably have the center built on a corner at Pierce Stadium in the vicinity of the current underground bar room. A Rec Center attached to Pierce Stadium would have been ideal! A no-brainer.

City records are incomplete but the first voter passage was done in the 1990's. A prior City Council (once again) stalled the wishes of the public. It was put forth and voted on favorably again on Question #15 in 2004. Incredibly it was ignored again! Some will tell you that legal steps were never followed through with but all I know is that we, the people, voted twice for a new Recreation Center and the will of the people was trashed.

A Recreation Center may sound frivolous to some but to me it speaks to a quality of life. Our lifetime is short enough. We should provide quality services to residents as much as possible. Education, public health and safety, leisure activities are all important to our quality of life.

Bottom line - we voted for this TWICE. Where is our Rec Center? Those current politicians that have all of a sudden decided to cancel the 2018 EP election because of a vote in 2012 that was never codified, should now build our Rec Center to be consistent with other prior votes!

This is an example of what has motivated me to be a candidate for City Council-at-Large. I will never ignore the majority vote of our citizens. I want to help, but this council won't let me get to the starting line. Unfortunately, I and others, now have to spend money on a court case to get integrity returned to this city. We seriously need a return to Basics in EP. I hope to join with others in helping to return integrity to EP government.

(This is an opinion from Bob Rodericks and does not necessarily reflect the views of this publication)


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