NORTH SMITHFIELD – Residents reacted this week to a sign posted outside the fence by the North Smithfield High School Athletic fields stating the facility is off limits to the town’s taxpayers. But according to School Committee Chairman James Lombardi, the unauthorized message may have been a joke.
The somewhat mysterious sign advised residents not to walk or run on the track; play basketball, frisbee, disk golf, football or soccer; go sledding or tubing, adding, “you could go fly a kite.”
“Just go do it somewhere else,” the sign stated. “The gates are locked for a reason.”
Residents photographed the message, posting complaints on social media.
But Lombardi noted that the gates are currently locked due to ongoing construction of new bathrooms and concession stands by the fields. The project, planned as a condition of approval in 2020 of Green’s 38-megawatt solar farm on Iron Mine Hill Road, is expected to be complete by graduation this year.
“The track and basketball courts are open, but the upper gate is locked,” Lombardi said. “The complication now is construction of the bathrooms.”
The district is in the process of creating a schedule for ongoing use of the athletic facilities, which will be open to the public when not in use by the schools or other outside groups, according to the chairman. Ongoing discussions have centered on how to address maintenance and the problem of litter, while still allowing residents to take advantage of the recent improvements, such as newly-laid turf.
“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 assume the sign is a joke,” Lombardi said. “It was not authorized by the School Department. If it’s up now, it will be taken down.”
NRI NOW will publish information on the facility use schedule once it becomes available.