PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Before Monday, someone using a wheelchair might have been stuck on land at Providence’s Fields Point area, unable to get very close to the waters of Narragansett Bay.
Then again, there was a time you’d be happy to stay away — before recent preservation efforts.
A new public pier that accommodates people using wheels or walkers in addition to those on foot was opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning. The project was spearheaded by nonprofit Save The Bay as part of its dedication to keeping Narragansett Bay healthy, swimmable, fishable, and accessible to all.
The pier will offer touch-and-go docking, kayak launches and fishing, to say nothing of a prime view of the upper Narragansett Bay, said the nonprofit’s executive director, Jonathan Stone.
It’s a testament to the work that’s been done in cleaning the area, agreed state leaders on hand for the event.
“I can recall going out [on the water] with Save The Bay a decade or more ago and churning through the brown waters of Narragansett Bay,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said. “Now, you can get out on a beautiful kayak and go through the pristine, beautiful blue waters of Narragansett Bay. That’s not an accident.”
In fact, the pier’s debut Monday was the finishing of a two-part mission. Phase one was a floating dock installed about four years ago, now followed by the larger pier that was just completed. The floating dock acts as a breakwater to calm the area used by Save the Bay’s education and research programs.
Altogether, the project cost $1.1 million, according to Stone. The building of it was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the nearby Johnson and Wales University, the James M. Cox Foundation, outdoor recreation retailer REI, the Champlin Foundation, the Island Foundation, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Rhode Island College Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities, in addition to private donations.
The cleaning isn’t finished, of course, Stone said, and the nonprofit continues to hold volunteer events clearing away trash from the shores. Conservation advocates are encouraged to sign up with Save The Bay for volunteer events on their website.