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North Providence mayor vows to keep town’s senior center open despite challenges

North Providence Mayor Charlie Lombardi (WJAR) 

After 40-plus years, the North Providence Senior Center has told its clients it will close Sept. 6.

“I cried all last night when I heard about it,” a volunteer told NBC 10 News on Tuesday.

Between 175 and 200 seniors come to the center every day, and 900 seniors are members, according to Karen Testa, who is the executive director.

Testa said the annual budget for the operation is $720,000, with $510,000 coming from the town.

Mayor Charlie Lombardi said he has withheld the town grant because operators of the center wouldn’t answer his questions about finances.

“When we started to ask these pertinent questions, they chose to hire an attorney, spending our money, so that they didn’t have to explain or justify how they were spending our money,” Lombardi said. “So, my question to you is, do they really care about the seniors, or are they trying to protect themselves?”

The operators of the center say they provide better services than comparable centers in the state, which is why their budget is so high.

“I’m very concerned that people coming in here won’t understand the connections that many of us have had for several years,” Testa said, with Ray D’Abate, who on the board of directors adding, “They provide services here at this facility that nobody else provides.”

But without the half million dollars from the town, the Center will close next Wednesday.

Still, Lombardi said there will be no interruption of service.

“On September 6 they say they’re going to shut it down. We will do whatever we have to do to open it on the morning of the seventh,” Lombardi said. “In the end, and I welcome you back here, in the first 12-month period of operations, I can almost guarantee you that we will save approximately $250,000 in a 12-month period.”

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