DEM, Raimondo award grants to improve outdoor recreation

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With eyes on the future — when sheltering at home to avoid the spread of COVID-19 may end — Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management awarded $5.79 million in matching grants to 21 cities and towns Friday morning so they can develop or improve outdoor recreational facilities.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us how critical the outdoors, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are for people’s well-being,” Raimondo said in a news release. She is making a priority of reopening state parks, beaches, and recreation areas.

The 27 projects range from improvements to town landings to creating shared-use paths along local rivers and interpretive signage.

At least a dozen projects include improvements to, or creating entirely new, playgrounds. Several projects will create or improve basketball courts, and one will turn a basketball court into two tennis courts.

The grants will need to be matched by communities. They’re funded through proceeds from the 2018 Green Economy and Clean Water Bond.

The DEM’s Janet Coit said the competition was tough and unfortunately, she added, only half of the 55 project applications could be funded under the agency’s budget.

Outdoor recreation in Rhode Island contributes an estimated $3.3 billion to the state every year, and supports 36,000 jobs, according to the DEM.

Grants were awarded to the following projects:

Burrillville: Hero Park Improvements
New play area, shade structure, picnic tables, benches, water fountain, and shed

Central Falls: Bringing Tennis to Central Falls
Replace existing basketball court with 2 tennis courts and install lighting

East Providence: Pierce Field Splash Park Construction
New splash park in Pierce Field

Little Compton: Town Landing Improvements
Establish a safe all-weather parking area, develop a walkway from parking area to beach, plantings, restore turf, and establish a stone memorial to benefactor

New Shoreham: Andy’s Way New Boardwalk and Beach Access Improvements
New universally accessible beach access boardwalk and improvements to site access and parking

Newport: Abruzzi Sports Complex Basketball Court Construction
New basketball court, bicycle storage racks, player benches, spectator bleachers, fencing around basketball court, extension of accessible walkway, and installation of a universally accessible water fountain

North Providence: Marieville Playground Construction
New playground with benches, fencing, landscaping, and lighting

Portsmouth: Mt. Hope Park Sea Wall Replacement
Replace a section of the existing sea wall

Providence: Blackstone Park Trail Network Improvements
Trail restoration with bank stabilization, new fencing, trail maps, interpretive signage, and trail markers

Providence: Woonasquatucket Adventure Park Improvements Phase 2
Create safe access from the Barbara Street neighborhood including improved access from Barbara Street entrance with one accessible parking space, concrete sidewalk repairs, fencing and gates, earthwork and preparation for pathway from upper portion of bike path, site preparation for playground area, picnic pavilion space, parkour area, public art, installation of bioretention rain garden, and new bicycle storage structure building

South Kingstown: Saugatucket Park Improvements
Reclamation and paving of walking path, replace chain link fence with decorative fence, clear invasive species along fence, and replace basketball court with combination-use outdoor court for basketball and pickleball

Westerly: Bradford Preserve Walking Trail Construction
Accessible walking trail, benches and landscaping

Large grants were awarded to the following projects:

Barrington: Walker Farm Recreation Shoreline Improvements
Expand gravel parking lot, new accessible walkway to new boat launch, improve shore access for kayakers and rowers, new floating dock for kayaks and rowers, new platform next to dock, benches, educational signs, and plantings

Burrillville: Beckwith-Bruckshaw Lodge Recreation Center Improvements
New playground, walking path, and parking

Charlestown: Ninigret Park New Fitness Space
New fitness equipment and games with cement surface, new shade structure, removal and disposal of existing fencing and clearing of ice-skating rink, new solar charging stations, picnic tables, benches, and shade trees

East Greenwich: Fairfield Playground Improvements
Installation of new universally accessible playground equipment, bench, playground safety surfacing, access walkway, new fencing

Foster: Foster Athletic Fields Construction Phase 2
New football/soccer field, basketball and tennis court, extension of walking path, well, and sprinkler system

Glocester: Memorial Park Improvements
Expand and relocate playground with fitness course, covered areas, benches, new bocce court with benches and shade structures, renovated basketball courts, improvements to pedestrian connection to Putnam Pike via Sherman Lane, and new signage

Hopkinton: Crandall Field Playground Improvements
New playground to replace existing playground, underdrainage system, wood fiber surface, walkway to playground, bollards at walkway entrance, loam, and seed

North Kingstown: Town Beach Campus Playground Improvements
Renovated walkways and playground surfacing, new accessible exercise area with four accessible play structures and three accessible equipment elements, four accessible parking spaces, concrete surfacing and bike parking, two picnic tables and three benches, sensory garden, new landscaping with rain gardens, and shade trees

North Providence: Pate Athletic Field Construction
New multiuse athletic field for soccer/football/ lacrosse, new parking lot, new concession/restroom/equipment storage building, seating, and irrigation system

Pawtucket: Acquisition ($75,000) and Development ($400,000) of Blackstone Bikeway Along Front Street
Acquisition and development of the last segment of the Blackstone River Bikeway needed to connect from Tolman High School to Central Avenue

Providence: Gotham Greens-Atwells Fire Station Path Construction
Create 1,000-foot shared-use path along the eastern bank of the Woonasquatucket River, benches, interpretive signs, riverbank restoration, native plantings, connection between the Woonasquatucket River Greenway and the Washington Secondary Trail extension currently under construction by RIDOT

Tiverton: Town Farm Recreation Area Improvements
Replace playground incorporating accessible equipment and sensory elements, new fitness park, and modification of two of the four existing tennis courts into six full-time pickleball courts

Warren: Burrs Hill Park and Town Beach Playground Improvements
Replace and relocate existing building to develop a new activity center with accessible bathrooms, concession stand and storage area, replace existing playground equipment, add a connecting pedestrian path from the East Bay Bike Path to Burrs Hill parking lot, and install overhead lighting

Warwick: Oakland Beach Splash Park Construction and Playground & Boardwalk Improvements
New boardwalk, splash park, playground enhancements, coastal buffer improvements, low impact bio swales, and pedestrian plaza entry improvements

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