JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A beloved Johnston bowling alley’s days are officially numbered.
Town Hall Lanes on Atwood Avenue is set to close May 12, according to general manager Paul Norato.
The duckpin bowling alley first opened back in 1959 and is home to a number of competitive leagues.
Norato, who has been the general manager of the bowling alley for more than two decades, tells 12 News the closure has been a hard pill for him to swallow.
“It’s like a second home to me and it’s a big part of the community,” he said. “Everybody is family here.”
Norato first started bowling at Town Hall Lanes when he joined a league back in the 1980s. He later found himself behind the counter coordinating the bowling alley’s competitive leagues.
“We run a kids’ league, and now they’re all adults,” Norato said with a laugh, admitting he was “showing his age.”
“They’re all like family to me, I see them every week and I’ve watched them grow up,” he continued. “Most of them are married now and have their own kids.”
Norato said he’s heard from plenty of league members who are heartbroken by the closure.
“I know a lot of them are upset right now,” he said. “It’s sad that it had to come to this.”
The building’s condition and upkeep played a big role in the owner’s decision to close the bowling alley, according to bookkeeper Lori Richardson.
“The way the piping system works, they would have to shut off the water [to make repairs] and we wouldn’t be able to operate because of the fire sprinklers,” she explained.
Richardson said the bowling alley would likely be without water for an extended period of time, which would also mean it would be without business.
“It’s going to be sad to see it go,” Richardson said. “It’s like when Rocky Point left Crescent Park.”
Paula Krause has been bowling competitively at Town Hall Lanes for a couple of years now.
“It’s been a place for us to get together,” she said. “We have fun, we bowl, we chat. It’s a girls day out.”
For Krause and her team, the closure is heartbreaking.
“I just think it’s a shame because we need places like this,” Krause said. “Kids like to come for birthday parties and a lot of special needs kids come on Fridays to play and that’s good for them.”
“It’s a place to come meet people and it’s a sport,” she continued. “They’re taking that away from us and I don’t think that’s right.”
Richardson encouraged everyone to visit Town Hall Lanes one last time before it closes for good.
“We hope people will come out to support us and take a little memory back with them,” she said.
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