Only one park in Providence sits in the shadow of a castle. Surrounded by historic pastel houses, Dexter Training Ground enjoys its summer farmers market and hosts soccer and kickball matches on the weekends. Now it has chess and bocce to brag about too.
The newest additions to the park’s slate of games come from members of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, who never stop seeing room for improvement in their corner of Providence. In May, for instance, they turned on the newly installed fountain in Luongo Square, signaling the completion of a neighborhood project long in development. Other initiatives include a crime watch, oil recycling program and neighborhood preservation projects. So when two brothers (and former West Side residents) approached the WBNA about honoring their community-minded parents by furnishing the park with new bocce courts and chess tables, the association got to work. In the spring, after months of planning and prototyping, several volunteers worked alongside the parks department to saw timber and lay gravel for the bocce courts, and in July, the chess tables, fabricated by the Steel Yard, were installed.
Despite inclement weather, over two dozen people attended the July ribbon cutting. Neighbors, state and city politicians and several members of the brothers’ family huddled beneath a canopy tent – their mother even cut the ribbon and threw the first jack.
These tasks require hard work and massive dedication, but, according to executive director Kari Lang, each plays an important role in furthering the WBNA’s mission to make West Broadway “a safe, vibrant, and sustainable place to be ‘SWELL’ (‘shop, work, eat, live and learn locally’). It’s a great place, we all live here, so [we] work to make it better.”