RICHMOND — The Chariho Regional School District is inviting residents to weigh in on Richmond Elementary School’s crumbling outdoor recreation facilities at a listening session on Nov. 12.
At the Richmond Town Council meeting on Oct. 15, Chariho asked the town to apply for state funding to help pay for work on the degraded facilities.The council agreed to apply for the funding from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, because the school district is ineligible to apply for the grant.
Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said the public meeting is a requirement of the grant application.
“It was a requirement of the grant that we consider community input,” he said. “We want the community to use our facilities and it’s important to consider what the community wants.”
With money from the current year’s budget, the district has hired Providence architects Robinson Green Beretta to prepare a master plan for upgrades to the basketball court, two tennis courts and a softball field, all of which are currently unusable.
The plan, which will determine the amount of the requested grant, will include projected costs as well as an outline of how the improvements would be phased in.
There has been some uncertainty about whether the responsibility of maintaining the outdoor facilities is the school district’s or the town’s, but Chariho recently agreed that the district would assume responsibility.
Town Council President Richard Nassaney said he wanted to make sure the outdoor recreational facilities were not only usable but safe.
"We need to make sure our facilities are safe for our kids," he said. "The Chariho school district has also taken the responsibility to maintain the facilities once they are finished."
Council member Nell Carter, who first raised the issue at a council meeting, also expressed relief that the school district had accepted responsibility for maintaining the school facilities and was making progress toward making them usable again.
“I’m pleased to see that this is on the front burner,” she said. "This is a concern they have and they’re being very proactive.”
Carpenter said she was looking forward to the Nov. 12 meeting.
“I will certainly be there,” she said. “I brought this up because I’ve been concerned about this for years.”
Ricci said he hoped residents would provide plenty of input at the listening session, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be chaired by Richmond Principal Sharon Martin.
“I really want this to be not tainted by preconceptions,” he said. “We’ll record their comments and submit them to the architect."