NORTH SMITHFIELD — Residents reacted this week to a sign posted outside the fence near the North Smithfield High School athletic fields stating the facility is off-limits to city ratepayers. But according to school board chairman James Lombardi, the unauthorized post may have been a joke.
The somewhat mysterious sign advised residents not to walk or run on the track; play basketball, Frisbee, disc golf, football or soccer; tobogganing or tubing, adding “you could fly a kite”.
“Go do it somewhere else,” read the sign. “The doors are locked for a reason.”
Residents photographed the post, posting complaints on social media.
But Lombardi noted that the gates are currently locked due to the ongoing construction of new bathrooms and concession stands near the fields. The project, slated as a condition of approval in 2020 for Green’s 38-megawatt solar farm on Iron Mine Hill Road, is expected to be complete with graduation this year.
“The track and the basketball courts are open, but the upper gate is locked,” Lombardi said. “The complication now is the construction of the bathrooms.”
The district is creating a schedule for the continued use of athletic facilities, which will be open to the public when not in use by schools or other outside groups, according to the chairman. Ongoing discussions have focused on how to address maintenance and the litter issue, while allowing residents to take advantage of recent improvements, such as newly laid sod.
“We expect it to be open to the public when not in use,” he said.
Lombardi said the sign was not produced by school officials, but appeared a few weeks ago and was taken down.
“I guess the sign is a joke,” Lombardi said. “It was not authorized by the school department.”
NOW will post information on the schedule for the use of facilities as it becomes available.