NORTH SMITHFIELD – Discussion over resident use of the North Smithfield High School athletic facilities took a negative turn this week, with a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission resigning over comments made online by other public officials.
Chase Fuller submitted a resignation letter on Monday, March 28, saying he’s, “disgusted with the way elected officials are behaving,” and that issues he cares about were, “trivialized.”
The conflict began after Fuller, an avid runner and founder last year of a town club based on the sport –dubbed “N.S. Reservoir Jogs” – encountered a sign posted by the high school fields stating that the facilities were off-limits to residents.
Fuller took a photo of the laminated sign, which instructed, “You can go fly a kite. Just do it somewhere else.”
NRI NOW was made aware of the note by a reader, and contacted School Committee Chairman James Lombardi on Sunday, March 20. Lombardi said that the sign was not authorized or hung by anyone in the school department and had likely been posted as a joke by an anonymous party.
At the time, the chairman said the note had already been removed once from school property, and that if it had been replaced, it would again be removed. He said that top gates by the facilities had recently been locked due to the ongoing construction of new bathrooms and concession stands, but that a schedule for resident usage of the track and basketball court was being finalized, and would be released soon.
That schedule came out on Thursday, March 24 – the same day The Valley Breeze published an article in which Fuller discussed his reaction to the sign, questioning the assertion that it wasn’t posted by school officials.
“One thing that doesn’t add up is that if this sign is a joke, who would know enough about the underlying context to make the sign?” Fuller reportedly asked, also recalling a previous incident in which an unknown man had rudely told him to leave the track, yelling “something about people from other communities,” according to the article.
“You couldn’t be an ordinary citizen with no vested interest in this issue and come up with the idea to post this sign as a joke,” Fuller was quoted as saying. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“There’s all this coded language,” Fuller added. “People don’t want people who don’t look like them to use the track. There’s no trust among the community at all, there’s just this pearl-clutching resentment.”
Lombardi reacted to the story, stating he was, “surprised to hear,” about Fuller’s experiences at the school track, and that he wished the commission member, “would have contacted us directly, so that we did not have to learn about this incident through the media.”
“As a NS Parks and Rec Committee member, we should all be working together,” Lombardi wrote. “To be honest, I’m not sure how your experience relates to the town as a whole or some ‘code,’ but I’ll move on.”
“Throughout the discussions of Veterans Memorial Stadium, and specifically the NS track and field – and in conjunction with our joint meeting with the Town Council – we always considered it to be a town asset with public access,” Lombardi wrote. “I fully understand the confusion with the top gates locked due to construction but we were coming out with a schedule when the story was published. I would like to ask for an investigation on who put up the sign and who spoke to you. Can you email me with the times, dates, and location of the incidents so we can review the cameras to see if we can identify anyone?”
Town Council President John Beauregard also weighed in.
“It’s very unfortunate Mr. Fuller felt the need to inject race into this issue. I don’t want people from Woonsocket using the turf field either. I don’t want people from any community other than North Smithfield using the turf field without permission and/or without paying for it. Is that ‘coded language’ for anything?” Beauregard asked. “It’s because of construction of the bathrooms, not race.”
In his resignation Monday – and in response to the comments – Fuller said that he did bring the issue of track usage to the School Committee in February.
“For better or worse, we only got results after the press was involved, and I don’t regret my actions for a minute,” Fuller wrote. “People can disagree with me, but I am disgusted with the way our elected officials are behaving. They demagogue people who disagree with them. I felt like issues I care about were trivialized, and very few were taking me seriously. This is wrong, it is unfair, and I refuse to be associated with them.”
Beauregard told NRI NOW that he was surprised by the resignation.
“He said something unnecessary and unfortunate publicly, so I called him out on it publicly,” Beauregard said of the commentary, adding that the school department could have been held liable if gates to the athletic fields were left open, and someone was hurt at an active construction site. “Why insult the whole town because you’re upset you can’t run on the track? That’s why I jumped in.”
Still, Beauregard added, “It doesn’t mean he should resign.”
But Fuller said the conflict has taken the joy out of being part of town governance.
“It can be argued your ability to implement change is greater when inside an organization than from the sidelines, but I’ve decided to step back and distance myself despite this,” Fuller wrote. “For these reasons, I am submitting my resignation from the North Smithfield Parks and Recreation Commission, effective immediately.”
B L, you will fit right in, especially with comments like this, ” As for taxes I am happy to pay them and am fine with higher taxes”
I see how you just took a portion of my statement. Classic move there Pat.
I’m sorry B L, I should have included your qualifying statement “living here the past 2 years”, as the highlight of your post. With all that town experience your insight on how our tax dollars are spent improving the community is welcome, please elaborate. As a resident of North Smithfield for over forty years, I have seen firsthand of how our tax increases do not necessarily improve quality of life. Our towns building infrastructure, school system, police, fire & safety, and public works have been all declining for several + years.
Seems to be a lot of whiners in this town. They rebuilt the field and opened up use of the track when ready. The parking lot is still locked as there is construction ongoing. This is all standard practice. My kids played basketball there all summer. Just had to use the lower lot. Not a big deal. On other posts, people complain that the said no high heels or cleats on the track. Makes sense as it can damage the track. As for taxes I am happy to pay them and am fine with higher taxes if that monies goes towards making my community better. From what I see living here the past 2 years and seeing the demand for people to move here, this is a great community to live in. Sorry for the positivity. I know it may ruffle some feathers.
Best of luck. I have lived here since 1987 and it has gone backwards and not forward. Higher taxes should indicate better educational standards and a better quality of life. Compared to MA educational standards we are mediocre and reports indicate that it will take 20 years to catch up. They always tout how great we are, compared to what? We are not Barrington or East Greenwich…in northern RI we fair better than Woonsocket.
I know many successful people come out of the Woonsocket school system including myself. Personally i feel like you get out what you put in to your education. Good parenting and support are critical to a students success. I chose NS for the school system (among other reasons) as it is one of the better in RI and with our parental guidance I am certain my kids will be successful.
Another example of a poorly managed town and council. Many good people of this town trampled by these power-hungry money grabbers….
Such a shame. It’s time for someone else to resign.
We all know who posted the lamented sign. No one would laminate a sign for a joke. It is also time for Mr. Beauregard to step down for his racist comments. We are running the town the way certain enforcement departments are run in the state. It’s time for change.
Frank, if you know who posted the sign please let us know. I would love the opportunity to have this person answer for “the joke.”
Frank, please share the racist comments you say were made by Mr. Beauregard as well as who you allege laminated and hung the sign. If you and others are are gonna make these claims, you should be prepared to back them up. Don’t you think??
Here comes Steven Vowels adding his 2 cents or should I say looking for new ways to waste taxpayers money. Mr Beauregard stated “felt the need to inject race into this issue” which is police code for race is an issue. Also when you state I want no one from Woonsocket or any other town using the field is also not a comment in good community spirit. Also it seems like you have a guilty conscience about who posted the sign. Here is an idea why don’t you charge the interscholastic league a fee each time the field is used for a school sporting event. We could also add a surcharge to the price of the tickets and a convenience fee for the restrooms. Maybe we can charge Gillette stadium prices for food and drinks and add a luxury box.
Thank god I moved out of this PAYTON PLACE of a Town you people call a Town ! John Beauregard treats the TAXPAYER as of they do NOT exist ! TAX ! TAX ! TAX! SPEND! SPEND! SPEND! That’s all this guy and the T/C know how to do ! They spent MILLIONS on a football field that DID NOT need to be replaced ! They could have opted to KEEP the GREEN GREEN GRASS of home but they wanted to keep up with the JONES many towns over ! Again thank god we moved out of this VERY TAXED TO DEATH TOWN !
Former TAXED to DEATH resident !!!!! GOOD BY !
Looking at the RI tax rates we seem to be middle of the pack. I see many of RREs above $20.
During the recent Town Council joint meeting with the members of the School Committee, on 3/15, I did address the many concerns NS residents had with not being able to use the turf field and basketball courts, it was not the result of Mr Fuller bringing attention to the issue. I asked for all decision makers to be present, from the Superintendent to the Athletics Director, even the Director of School Facilities to answer these questions. Why are the gates locked? Ongoing maintenance of the turf? Residential use? Outside non-resident use? Scheduling via permit? I would suggest that you go back and watch the meeting on YouTube for their answers.
We understand that it’s all of our taxpayer money that funded this turf field but if we don’t put “expected” measures in place to properly maintain it, the Town will be in the same position it was before resulting in fast deterioration.
NS Town Council
John Beauregard should know how it feels to be called out publicly, but obviously as the last election proves, the town tolerates and elevates people like him. He is the very one who intimated that Chase insulted the residents of the town. Funny that town officials, insult all targets, whether by sexual orientation, people of color, economic status or ageism and their views and prejudices are always on display. Their biases and prejudice are reported by NRI Now and The Valley Breeze all too frequently. Unfortunately, Chase should have known that John and Jim would make it appear, that he is at fault. My guess is that one of their zealots posted the sign, “as a joke.” We will never see the images from that camera, because they know who it is. My guess is that they also know the person who confronted Chase. And now, another individual, a true leader has fallen victim to their attack. That’s the way it goes folks. Will you never learn?
I am very upset with our town council and how they have acted over this new track. The track has been locked since completion last year and I have been using it weekly up until it was closed for work on the new track. I am a tax payer in NS and have been driving to surrounding towns tracks because I can’t use my own that is 3 miles from my home. Up until Chase put this in the spot light of the media I feel nothing would have been done to allow the public to use the track! I am angry with the way Chase has been treated since and I feel Mr Beauregard if you want to check cameras to see who said these remarks to Chase to collaborate his story, how about we look at those same cameras to see who posted that disrespectful sign to North Smithfield tax payers!!