COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — Coventry residents could potentially lose recreational access to Johnson’s Pond early next year, 12 News has learned.

The lease between Soscia Holdings, which owns the pond’s water flow rights and dam, and the town is set to expire March 31, 2024. That lease allows residents to use the pond for recreational purposes.

But Soscia Holdings doesn’t plan on renewing the lease, according to attorney Patrick Dougherty.

Dougherty tells 12 News that, while it’s unlikely that Soscia Holdings will draw a hard line in the sand when it comes to residents’ access to the pond, a law on the books gives them authority to do so in the lease’s absence.

When asked why Soscia Holdings doesn’t plan on renewing the lease, Dougherty explained the town is not performing required maintenance to the dam.

Dougherty said a recent inspection of the dam and its pier raised safety concerns.

But the town disagrees.

Coventry Town Solicitor Stephen Angell said there is no imminent threat of collapse.

Angell would not comment on what the town plans to do next, but tells 12 News they will act prior to the lease expiring next year. He said all legal options are being considered at this time.

There are some property lines that extend into the water of the pond. It’s unclear how water access would be impacted for those property owners without a lease in effect.

There are roughly 600 residents that live around Johnson’s Pond, formally known as Flat River Reservoir.

The pond’s water flow rights and dam were sold to Soscia Holdings in 2020 by Quidnick Reservoir Company, a private corporation. Since then, Soscia Holdings and the town have been in and out of court disputing water levels and maintenance of the pond’s dam.

Soscia Holdings is currently suing the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) over a new state law that requires dam owners to get a permit before raising or lowering the water levels.

The law, signed by Gov. Dan McKee last summer, was first introduced after residents’ expressed concerns over the pond’s low water levels and how it was impacting wildlife.