Magical, or was it something more? Laura Logan couldn’t help but wonder as she stood in the dappled sunlight looking over the park and play area that was a part of daughter’s life nearly …
Magical, or was it something more? Laura Logan couldn’t help but wonder as she stood in the dappled sunlight looking over the park and play area that was a part of daughter’s life nearly a quarter of a century ago at the end of Kerri Lyn Road.
Even now, the fenced-in sanctuary of tall trees, playground equipment is known for Nicole Barrette. She is remembered in a dedication stone, which now is partially hidden by overgrowth in one corner of the site and far more prominently on a sign wired to the entrance to the neighborhood pocket park. Living a couple of houses away from the park and a member of Girl Scout Troop 43, Nicole decided to make the park a troop project. The troop adopted the park that had fallen into disrepair.
Nicole never lived to see her dream come true. She died in an accident at the age of 11. Yet she was present at the park Friday afternoon. There was no other way to explain the series of events surrounding Laura’s return to Warwick and the park on the 22nd anniversary of Nicole’s death. While Laura remarried and moved to Florida ten years ago, she remains in touch with Rhode Island friends and family. Her son, Rick, now 35 operates Barrette Fabrication on Toll Gate Road that specializes in Jeep repairs and modifications. She follows Positive Warwick and saw a post that playground equipment at the park had fallen into disrepair. She posted she would be returning to the park to on the 22nd anniversary of Nicole’s death to plant a garden. She tagged Mayor Frank Picozzi.
Those reading the post followed up with comments. A city crew repaired the playground equipment and the park was cleaned up by the time Laura arrived Friday. She was delighted to see the park looking so cared for. She also met a very pregnant Leah Charpentier Lavala who had brought along a plastic bag filled with bulbs. Leah, who lives in Pontiac, had been following the Positive Warwick page and wanted to help Laura beautify the park.
Laura and Leah scoped out where to plant the bulbs, a collection of daffodils and iris. Leah held up an especially large bulb, a bearded purple iris.
“Did Nicole have a favorite color?”
“Purple,” answered Laura. It seemed more than a coincidence as did the rapid cleanup of the park and the outpouring of comments on Positive Warwick. As the pair pulled out crabgrass and dug into the dry earth, neighbors came over.
Laura had brought along purple mums and other flowers to enhance the park. She and Leah were staking out a garden near the entry as the neighbors gathered.
Laura had followed the news and knew that Girl Scout Troop 43 which disbanded some time ago had recently reformed. There was yet another serendipitous connection. Among those gathered was the Miceli family who are living in the former Barrette home. They compared notes. Laura commented on the appearance of the house and they talked about the aging deck and how the time is approaching to replace it.
The focus returned to the park and Nicole’s efforts.
Twenty-two years ago Nicole was with her father, Richard Barrett Jr. He and Laura had divorced, but Laura often accompanied her father as he drove a 10-wheel milk delivery truck from upstate New York to the city. The truck was on an off ramp to Bruckner Expressway when a car pulled in front of him. He braked hard, which shifted the load in the truck causing it to flip over. Nicole didn’t make it.
Nicole’s dream for the park didn’t die. The troop worked continued its work and then Mayor Scott Avedisian committed city resources to make it happen. Two years after Nicole died the park was dedicated in her name.
In a Beacon story about the dedication, Robert Shapiro the late superintendent of schools was quoted, "You will be remembered every time someone is playing here." He remembered Nicole, who used to answer phone calls at Lippitt, as a bright and verbal young girl. Avedisian looked for the good, saying, “"Out of bad things can often grow very good things.”
With the neighbors looking on, Laura and Leah worked on the garden. The question was raised, who would care for the garden and water it?
Kaley Miceli had joined Leah, trowel in hand. To Laura’s amazement, she is a member of the reorganized Troop 43. She has plans to erect a lending library at the park for a troop project.
Might she also care for the garden? Kaley didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
Laura felt blessed.
In an email following her visit, she wrote, “It’s just kind of magical the way it all came together over 3 days and culminating on the 19th. (Nicole’s anniversary of her death).
It makes me happy to know that after 20 years the neighborhood is pulling together as a community to reinvigorate life back into the playground.”
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