Organizers plan rally to highlight lack of animal shelter

Organizers plan rally to highlight lack of animal shelter

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Tired of being told that a new animal shelter is right around the corner, a group of local advocates is planning a rally to draw attention to the situation.

Karen Vaillancourt, who is organizing the event with Cathy Lanni, said that while the topic of a new shelter has been spoken about since at least 2014, appropriate money “has yet to be set aside and used to build a proper, to-code animal shelter in North Providence,” and an architect experienced in building state-of-the-art shelters has not been engaged.

They’re inviting anyone who wants to join the cause to the North Providence Public Safety Complex, 1835 Mineral Spring Ave., this Sunday, May 16, for a rally running from 1 to 2 p.m. The event is titled “North Providence Needs A New Shelter Peaceful Show of Support,” and will be held on the sidewalk in front of the complex on busy Mineral Spring Avenue.

Vaillancourt said Monday that there’s been quite a bit of interest in the event, including 25 people who say they’re going and a few dozen more who say they’re interested in attending. She said organizers are hoping this effort will help push Mayor Charles Lombardi to do more.

“It’s important, but it doesn’t seem important on his list,” she said of the goal of replacing the run-down old shelter on Smithfield Road.

She said the mayor seems to have settled on another architect with no experience building state-of-the-art animal shelters, and he wants to use the architect to design the facility and then have town employees build it.

“Not very promising,” she said.

Lombardi said this week that he agrees with advocates that a shelter needs to be built, but said there’s a process that needs to be followed. Just like them, he said, he’s not happy that it’s taken this long, and in private business, it would have just gotten done, he said. But the town has done its due diligence and waited for an agreement with Smithfield as a third partner on the shelter to finalize. Partners North Providence and Johnston will now utilize Smithfield’s shelter on an interim basis while their new tri-community North Providence shelter is built to replace the current animal shelter building where it sits on Smithfield Road, he said.

Lombardi said he expected officials to have a final meeting with Cranston-based Lonardo and Associates on Monday about plans for the shelter.

The Breeze reported a month ago that the town was joining up with Lonardo, a company that had previously worked with the Animal Shelter Committee and is on the state’s master list.

Once that final drawing for the shelter is agreed to following Monday’s meeting, said Lombardi, he’s leaving it up to Animal Control Officer Ernie Calandra and his team to make sure questions are answered and needs fulfilled.

He said he wants to make sure this is a modern animal shelter everyone can be proud of.