Lions present ultimatum to council on picnic shelterCivic group expresses frustration over delays
Construction of a picnic shelter at Ball O’Brien Park, long delayed, is now slated to get the go-ahead from Town Council at its next full meeting on Monday, June 3.
Lions Club member Ed McGovern, accompanied by a group of approximately 10 other Lions, informed the town council at the work session Wednesday night that if construction on the project did not move forward, the $30,000 they had set aside two years ago for the shelter would be reallocated.
Calling Ball O’Brien Park the Lions’ “pet project,” McGovern said that the group had turned down other funding requests because money was earmarked for the shelter. “We are here to express our frustration. Let us build it. We have the volunteers; we want to get this done,” McGovern said.
Plans for the shelter are part of a joint grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and sponsored by the town and the Lions. The town is undertaking construction of two restrooms at the park, which already has a basketball court, a playground and tennis courts built with monies contributed by the Lions.
Town Manager Nancy Dodge attributed the delay in part to problems with the restrooms. They were planned as self-enclosed concrete structures, but the cost of transporting those, and a crane to site them, turned out to be “well over” the allocation. Dodge said she has held up the shelter construction until new plans for the restrooms could be finalized in order that both projects could be built at the same time.
The Lions said they have volunteers ready to work on the building. According to Dodge, soil borings needed for the project have been completed, and local contractor Shea Butcher has agreed to oversee the project and include it under his insurance policy. Lions member Chris Willi told the council that Butcher’s crew will put the trusses in place, and the volunteers will construct the rest of the shelter from a kit.
Before the structure can be erected, a concrete pad needs to be laid. (According to Willi, there is $15,000 in place for the slab.) Councilor Sean McGarry urged Dodge to put out a bid for it. Dodge said she had considered using Joe Sprague, who has a town contract, to do the work, but McGarry said, “Anything over $5,000 needs to go to bid.”