Work Begins on RI Coastal Park
July 14, 2014
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has announced that demolition and site restoration work begins at Rocky Point in Warwick, Rhode Island, this week. This work is the first step in the creation of a new coastal state park at Rocky Point that will benefit Rhode Islanders for centuries.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has been a supporter of the preservation of Rocky Point since the days when he was the Mayor of Warwick. “I am pleased that cleanup work is underway at Rocky Point so that the public will be able to enjoy this special place on the Rhode Island landscape,” said Chafee. “This iconic property is one of Rhode Island’s most beloved natural assets and holds many special memories from the past.”
The cleanup of the property began with the contractor preparing the site for the asbestos removal work and building demolition. The initial work will involve the demolition of the Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium/Windjammer, which are in serious states of deterioration and beyond restoration. In addition, asbestos removal and site restoration work will be performed at the main buildings and in the midway area. This portion of the project is expected to be completed in 75 days. Several remaining cottages on the site will also be demolished over a 60-day period. The contractor for the project will coordinate with the City of Warwick if there is a need for temporary closing of the walking path in front of the Shore Dinner Hall.
“The Department of Environmental Management is pleased to launch this phase of the redevelopment of Rocky Point,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “This week we taking another step forward towards the creation of a coastal park at Rocky Point for residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”
In March 2013, DEM acquired 83 acres at the site of the former Rocky Point amusement park in Warwick. This land will be integrated with the 41 acres of shoreline at Rocky Point that was bought by the city of Warwick with the help of state and federal funding in 2007. Over the past four years the city of Warwick, under the leadership of Mayor Scott Avedisian, has made tremendous strides in opening the waterfront portion for public use by developing a public parking area, a waterfront walkway, installing landscaping, and demolishing vacant derelict summer cottages.
“This is an exciting step in the process of getting Rocky Point open to the public. The walking path that is already open is one of the busiest locations here in the city, and we know that the rest of the park will only add to the popularity of this destination,” said Avedisian.
According to Coit, the future development of Rocky Point Park will be a collaborative process involving many stakeholders and partners including the Rocky Point Foundation and the city of Warwick. The state will seek public-private partnerships to minimize the use of state resources while maximizing return to all, explore federal funding opportunities for parkland development, and build on the success of its partnership with Warwick.
DEM will work with Warwick and other partners to restore the property for public benefit and open up access to the land by boat. Possible features of the new coastal park include a system of walking paths, fields, fishing access, and other recreational amenities. Rhode Island’s natural resources continue to be powerful drivers for economic development and tourism and sources of great pride for its residents. These natural assets play a big role in the state’s tourist economy by providing opportunities for the public to enjoy the great outdoors, and at the same time bring revenue to the local economy.
The Rocky Point property in Warwick has a history of being a popular summer attraction for Rhode Islanders and visitors for more than 150 years. Over the decades, attractions at Rocky Point have come and gone — nature trails, a ferry pier, an observation tower, hotels, clambakes, restaurants, swimming pool, rides, games, and concerts — but the attraction of 120 acres of land for public use within 10 miles of downtown Providence has been a consistent draw since 1850. In 1995, the operation of Rocky Point as an amusement park ceased.
DEM recognizes that Rocky Point holds many special memories of the past for generations of Rhode Islanders. Development of a new coastal state park will feature remaining elements of the former amusement park, which may include the base of a stone observation tower, Rocky Point arch, and the base of the circle swing, if they are deemed structurally sound.
The contractor for the project is HK&S of North Kingstown. The department will use a combination of state and federal resources to clean up the site. Total project cost is $3 million.