Johnston lands $1.1 million grant for new soccer complex


Rhode Island and Johnston’s top politicians gathered inside the town’s Johnston Indoor Recreation Center Saturday afternoon. Members and coaches of local soccer teams packed the blue bleachers lined up on the gym floor.

“We’ve got some great news,” announced Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena.

Polisena wouldn’t reveal the reason for the assembly before the event. Instead, he packed the auditorium with  Ocean State dignitaries like Gov. Dan McKee, Attorney General Peter Neronha, Rep. James Langevin, Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins, a Johnston native.

He welcomed Langevin to the lectern.

“There’s a person who led this charge,” Polisena said, referring to Langevin, who has announced he’s serving his final term as the Congressman representing Rhode Island’s second district.

“Last week … Congress passed and the President signed, a spending package to fund the entire federal government for the rest of the year,” Langevin told the crowd. “‘The For the People Package,’ as we call it … includes funding for education, national security … cyber security, assistance for Ukraine, and countless other urgent national priorities.”

Some of those “national priorities” have focused inward, in the restoration of earmarks, which send funding back to towns and cities for local projects.

“But we’re here today, because the ‘For the People Package’ also funds community projects … we’re bringing back community funded projects; projects that strengthen our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods,” Langevin said. “I’m thrilled to share with you, that I was able, along with my colleagues in the Delegation, Sen. Reed, Sen. Whitehouse, Congressman (David) Cicilline, that I was able to secure a $1.1 million grant for the town of Johnston to fully rehabilitate and restore the soccer complex.”

Roaring applause sounded from the audience.

“When we work on appropriation issues, we all work together as a Delegation,” Langevin said. “I was proud to secure this grant. This funding is going to support the removal of the current grass field, the sod, the underground sprinklers. Replace them with brand new, padded artificial turf field, plus the goals and striping. So it’s really going to make the complex spectacular I believe. And when the project is finished you’ll have a state-of-the-art facility.”

Few other project details were available Saturday.

The politicians in the crowd, seated with Johnston’s local School Committee and Town Council members, and Johnston Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr., took turns speaking at the lectern.

McKee addressed the audience.

“Maybe this new turf will help them avoid injuries,” he said, speaking directly to the players and coaches. “What a pleasure it’s going to be for the young kids in this town to … play soccer on a turf field. It’s going to raise up the enjoyment, it’s going to raise up the dedication of the coaches and all the teams that are participating.”

Reed and Whitehouse also announced round $5 million in expected federal funding to help fight flooding issues in both Johnston and Cranston. The delegation promised more details on those upcoming projects in the near future.

“Congratulations on your new facility,” Gov. McKee told the crowd. “I have no doubt that all of you will play hard and make wonderful memories here. But you’ll continue to make the people of Johnston, the people of Rhode Island, incredibly proud … I can’t wait to visit the new field.”

Polisena thanked the federal delegation for securing the funds.

The town’s current fields surround the 1741 Atwood Ave. Indoor Recreation Center, which has been named for Polisena, who also donated the facility’s scoreboard.

“It’s really remarkable,” Polisena said to conclude the speaking program.


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