$5 Million Available for Large, Small and Passive/Historic Park Development Projects
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that it is now accepting applications from municipalities for open space recreation acquisition and development grants. A total of $5 million is available this year under three grant programs. Funding for this round of projects comes from the Rhode Island Open Space Bond Authorization of 2012.
The grants will provide 50 percent of funding to acquire, develop, or renovate outdoor recreation facilities. Categories include large grants which range from $75,000 up to $400,000 each, and small grants of up to $75,000 each for projects of smaller cost.
Applications are also being accepted for passive and historic park development/recreation grants. These grants will provide up to 90 percent funding to municipalities to restore, renovate or develop passive and/or historic parks, with a maximum grant award of $100,000. Up to $500,000 is available during this round of funding.
"I am glad that the funds from the voter-approved environmental bonds, which I proposed for the 2012 election, will be used to benefit our cities and towns, and protect and enhance recreational areas, open spaces, parks, and beaches. They are State assets that draw visitors from around the world and are a source of pride for Rhode Islanders," Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. "Projects such as these initiatives are important to strengthening Rhode Island's economy, future, and environment."
"This new grant round is another milestone in our efforts to help expand and improve recreational opportunities in neighborhoods across Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Providing children and families with places in their communities where they can get outdoors, enjoy nature, get fit and have fun is the key to ensuring a beautiful Rhode Island and healthy Rhode Islanders."
Since 1986, the wide-range of projects funded by this grant program have helped to expand the recreational opportunities available to Rhode Islanders, enhance the state's efforts to preserve open space, and add to the quality of life in local communities. Among the projects that have received prior funding through the large and small grant programs include Riverpoint Park in West Warwick for construction of four new lighted tennis courts, restrooms and a concession area; Deerfield Park in Smithfield for a new multi-purpose field; Lime Rock Park in Lincoln for new restrooms, basketball court and roadways; Tucker Field in Cumberland for construction of a new field with artificial turf for multiple sports; Ball O'Brien in New Shoreham for construction of restrooms and picnic shelter; and Rotary Park in Westerly for two new tennis courts.
Prior projects funded through the passive and historic park grant program include the development of Depot Square Park in Hopkinton; restoration of Jenks Park in Central Falls; creation of a parking lot and walking path at Rocky Point in Warwick; renovation of Galbraldi Park in Providence; development of a passive park on the Town Commons in Tiverton; development of Thomas Park in Bristol, a waterfront passive park; and the development of Mary Fazioli Park, a passive waterfront park in Newport.
Applications will be accepted through November 29, 2013, and will be reviewed and scored by the eight-member Rhode Island Recreation Resources Review Committee, made up of state and local government officials and representatives of non-profit agencies. The Committee utilizes an open project selection process (OPSP) developed as part of the 2009 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, and each application will be evaluated and scored based on the criteria of the OPSP. The highest scoring applications will be forwarded to DEM Director Coit for review and approval. DEM expects to announce the grant awards in January 2014.
"One of the most important things DEM does is to provide funding for recreation development and open space protection through its grant programs, and we encourage municipalities to apply for these matching funds," Director Coit added.
Under the last round of grants for recreation acquisition and development, in 2012, out of 44 applications received, 35 projects in 23 communities across the state were funded. The grants provided funding for 16 small recreation development projects, 13 large urban and suburban projects, and parkland grants to six communities to acquire 137 acres of land to be used for park development.
Grant applications, specific rules governing each grant program, and additional information is available from Joseph Dias at DEM's Division of Planning and Development at 222-2776 ext. 4301. Information and downloadable applications are also available on DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bpoladm/plandev/grants.htm.