Providence - Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as Receiver for Moneta Capital, has accepted has accepted the State's offer to purchase the remaining land at Rocky Point in Warwick for the development of a future State Park. The 82-acre property would be purchased for $9.65 million, to be paid from the $10 million Open Space bond approved by Rhode Island voters in 2010.
The property is currently under the control of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island with the SBA as the Court-appointed Receiver for Moneta Capital Corporation. The SBA is required to present the offer to the Court for approval, a subsequent step in a process that will continue to unfold over the course of the fall.
"SBA's intent to sell the Rocky Point property to the State is a milestone event in what we hope to be a successful effort to acquire and preserve this iconic property," noted Governor Lincoln Chafee. "This property, which is one of Rhode Island's most beloved natural assets, holds many special memories of the past, and we will need to carefully plan for its future."
"The Small Business Administration as Receiver for Moneta Capital is very pleased to have finally reached agreement with the State of Rhode Island on this historic property which is so important to all Rhode Islanders," said Mark S. Hayward SBA District Director. "We look forward to presenting to the US Federal District Court the final purchase and sales agreement."
"Today we take another step forward towards creation of a coastal park that will benefit Rhode Islanders for centuries. While there are several steps yet to come, the collaborative nature of this effort – and the overwhelming support of the public, and federal, state and local officials – make me very optimistic," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "I appreciate our close working relationship with the City of Warwick and the progress we have made with the Small Business Administration and look forward to pursuing those next steps."
Forty-one acres of shoreline property at Rocky Point were previously purchased in a City/State/Federal partnership effort in 2007. Over the past three 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.
"The SBA's acceptance of the state's offer is a wonderful development in our collaborative efforts to preserve the remainder of the property," said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. "It has been very exciting to see how many people have visited our shoreline property since it opened last summer and has really reinforced how special Rocky Point is to thousands of Rhode Islanders. I am hopeful that the Court will approve the purchase offer and look forward to working with the state and other partners to restore the property, which has been such a vital part of our state's rich history and culture."
The acquisition of the City's 41-acre parcel was made possible through the efforts of many parties including Senator Jack Reed, who obtained a $2.2 million federal grant for the purchase. Senator Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman Jim Langevin were early proponents of public access to the Rocky Point property. In November 2010, Rhode Island voters approved a $10 M bond to purchase the remaining 82 acres of land at Rocky Point for a public park. This effort was spearheaded by a non-profit group called the "Rocky Point Foundation" with help from Save the Bay.
"Rocky Point is a special place. Many Rhode Islanders have fond memories of coming here as youngsters and I am proud to have helped preserve the natural beauty of this place for future generations," said Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment. "I am pleased plans are moving forward to preserve and develop the surrounding area and keep it accessible for more families to enjoy."
"Rocky Point is a historic landmark that holds a special place in the hearts of many Rhode Islanders. Preserving this landmark property will open up over 120 acres of beautiful shoreline property for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy for years to come. Today is a proud day for our state," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
"As a Warwick native, Rocky Point will always be a special place full of fond memories for me," said Langevin. "I understand well what this park means to our community and I am grateful for the commitment of so many people to its further development as a State Park. If we all do our part to preserve its natural beauty, Rocky Point will remain a source of pride for generations of Rhode Island residents to come."
The Rocky Point property in Warwick has a 150+ year history of being a popular summer attraction for Rhode Islanders and visitors. 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. Soon thereafter, the United States Federal District Court appointed the SBA as Receiver. Over the past 17 years, several developers have failed in their attempts to develop the property.
"The State is thankful for the tremendous support and assistance of our Congressional Delegation, the City of Warwick, the Rocky Point Foundation, and the 205,218 Rhode Islanders who supported passage of the Rocky Point open space bond issue, allowing us this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," added Governor Chafee. "We will press forward and hope for more good news as we work to finalize the acquisition of this historic seaside property."