Session Sponsored by Rocky Point Foundation will Seek Input from the Public on Development of Rocky Point Park
PROVIDENCE - Governor Lincoln Chafee and Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit will take part in a public forum hosted by the Rocky Point Foundation on Tuesday, May 7 at 6 p.m. Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston.
The Rocky Point Foundation, a non profit organization that lobbied to have the state save all of the former amusement park land, will sponsor the public forum to talk about the park and solicit ideas on how it should be developed. This is the first of what could be several forums in other parts of the state as the Department of Environmental Management considers the use of the 83 acres acquired earlier this year and how it was be integrated with the 41 acres of shoreline bought by the city of Warwick with the help of state and federal funding six years ago.
Governor Lincoln Chafee has been a supporter of the preservation of Rocky Point since the days when he was the Mayor of Warwick. "This has been a long process, but I am proud that the State of Rhode Island has been able to preserve Rocky Point for future generations," said Governor Lincoln Chafee. "This iconic property, 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 Chafee Administration looks forward to receiving ideas and suggestions from the public on the best possible use of Rocky Point for the people of Rhode Island."
According to DEM Director Janet Coit, the future development of Rocky Point Park will be a collaborative process involving many stakeholders and partners. "Now that the State has secured ownership of Rocky Point, we want a discussion with the public on the development of this special area that is part of our history," said Director Coit. "Tomorrow's session sponsored by the Rocky Point Foundation will be the first of many opportunities to hear from the public as DEM moves forward to create a new state park for residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come."
Suggestions on how the park should be developed are already filtering in to the DEM and the Foundation. Proposals have included a fishing pier and ferry dock, restaurant and facilities that could accommodate wedding parties, walking paths and picnic areas and bringing back some of the rides that were the park's signature for more than 100 years.
But that is only a sampling of the possibilities, and the Foundation is asking people to dream of what the park's future could be.
DEM Director Janet Coit will open the forum with the introduction of Governor Lincoln Chafee, who worked to reach an agreement with the Small Business Administration, court appointed receiver for the park that closed in 1995, to buy the property for $9.65 million. Governor Chafee has budgeted $2.5 million for the cleanup of the property beginning with the demolition of the Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium and Windjammer that are in serious states of deterioration. Director Coit is hopeful of opening the state land by the end of this year although its final development may take many years. But first there needs to be a vision of what the park could be.
Providence planning consultants Veri/Waterman, who are donating their services, will facilitate the forum. Following a brief presentation on the history of the park and park development in other parts of the country and world, those attending will be asked to break into groups of eight and 10 to explore concepts and ideas. Those proposals will then be collected and shared with the entire group. Veri/Waterman will prepare a report to be shared with the state and disseminated publicly.
The Foundation is also looking to solicit ideas through its website, getthepoint.org, and with an online survey, which has yet to be finalized. "We're looking to make this fun and exciting," said Foundation president John Howell. Tickets recovered from the former park that have been made into key chains will be given to all attending and then used in a raffle for mugs and other items. "So many have so many fond memories of Rocky Point," said Howell. "What the Foundation hopes to do is to get people thinking about what the park can be so good times will be enjoyed by generations to come."