PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management held a special ceremony today to mark completion of a new beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods State Park. Beginning tomorrow, the beach will be open daily – with all new concessions, restroom and shower facilities, an expanded nature center, and improved parking areas. Lincoln Woods, located just outside the Providence metro area, is one of Rhode Island's most popular state parks, attracting nearly one million visitors each year.
"We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have an array of parks and natural areas to enjoy a beautiful sunset, hike a trail, swim, or catch a fish. For many, Lincoln Woods is at the top of that list," said First Gentleman Andy Moffit, who chaired the Rhode Island Outdoor Recreation Council. "Exploring nature provides an opportunity to recharge, connect with family, and lead more active lives. It's so important to our economy, way of life, and health that we continue to invest in our parks and make them attractive, safe places for all to enjoy. I applaud our Congressional Delegation and DEM for their leadership in making this great project at Lincoln Woods possible."
The project introduces modern visitor facilities and amenities while also helping to improve water quality in Olney Pond. With the three new buildings connected to public water and sewer systems, the old septic system has been removed and the swimming area at the beach has been shifted east – away from sensitive wetlands. The facilities, connected by a central plaza, were designed to honor the history and aesthetic of the park as well as reduce their impact on the natural environment through the use of efficient technology, recycled materials, and innovative design strategies. The "green" features of the project include:
• The building design uses a combination of passive ventilation and daylighting to minimize the need for cooling and heating. • Highly efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems conserve natural resources. • Solar energy used for heating water in key areas, including the main building and in public showers, to reduce energy consumption of park operations. • The landscape design includes native, non-invasive species that require minimal irrigation. • The new, expanded parking area made of porous asphalt; bike racks added to promote more active forms of transportation.
"I am grateful to the National Park Service for working with us to make a critical $1.4 million federal investment in this project. We impressed upon the Park Service the importance of Lincoln Woods to both our state's history and future," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees National Park Service funding. "For over a century of public use, generations of Rhode Islanders from all walks of life – particularly working families – have come here to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the park, Olney Pond, and outdoor recreation in all seasons. Lincoln Woods is for everyone. It is family-friendly, budget-friendly, and serves as a great big backyard for the entire community. These upgrades make it even more accessible, sustainable, and welcoming, and will provide more visitors, and future generations, with an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Lincoln Woods."
"Rhode Island's parks and beaches are part of what makes our state a great place to live and visit," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Thanks to Senator Reed and state leaders, the new pavilion at Lincoln Woods will provide a better experience for beachgoers, and will help preserve one of the Blackstone Valley's natural gems."
Rhode Island is home to a wealth of historic parks, beaches, bikeways and other recreational facilities. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs each year. Last year, Governor Raimondo convened the Rhode Island Outdoor Recreation Council – with membership from state and local government, industry and community – to develop an actionable vision for promoting and growing outdoor recreation in Rhode Island. The Council released its Final Report last December, highlighting the importance of this recreational network to Rhode Island's economic and cultural vitality. A recent study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that State-managed parks and bikeways alone contribute $311 million to the economy annually and support over 3,700 jobs and nine million visits.
"Lincoln Woods State Park is one of Rhode Island's many beautiful recreational sites, and the new Beach Pavilion will make this outdoor treasure an even more attractive destination," Congressman Jim Langevin said. "The project made significant investments in park facilities and will boost Rhode Island's economy. This pavilion is a win-win for the state, its residents and the tourists who frequent this great seasonal location."
"One million people, both Rhode Islanders and visitors, visit Lincoln Woods every year. This new pavilion is a state of the art facility that will ensure Lincoln Woods remains a vital part of our state's culture and economy for years to come," said Congressman Cicilline. "I am glad that federal funding through the National Park Service was able to help make this project happen. This project clearly demonstrates how support for parks across our country enhances the quality of life for Rhode Islanders and helps put people back to work."
Lincoln Woods is located in one of Rhode Island's most densely populated urban areas and is a popular retreat for Rhode Islanders and visitors to the state, offering fresh-water swimming, trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, ice fishing, ice skating, and many other recreational opportunities. The park is teeming with walkers, joggers, and fishermen daily. Lincoln Woods was the first park acquired by the State of Rhode Island in 1909.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the completion of this project and to offer our visitors new, modern amenities while they enjoy a relaxing day at the beach," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Lincoln Woods is a special place – known for its history, beauty and tranquility and where suburbanites and city dwellers converge to take refuge beneath its trees and by the shore of Olney Pond. During the summer months, the park and beach bristle with excitement, as families flock to the water to escape the heat and spend time together. I am so pleased that this project will not only provide better facilities to beachgoers but also help improve water quality in the Pond, which benefits our environment and all park visitors."
The $5.5 million project was designed by Providence-based Brewster Thornton Group Architects and constructed by Ahlborg Construction Corporation of Warwick, Rhode Island. It was funded through the National Park Service Land and Water Conservation Fund ($1.4 million) and Rhode Island Capital Plan Fund ($4.1 million).
"The value of Lincoln Woods – and our vast network of historic parks, beaches and green spaces in Rhode Island – to our quality of life and vitality as a state is immeasurable," continued Coit. "I am incredibly proud to cut the ribbon on this project and to celebrate the beginning of an exciting, new chapter in the history of Lincoln Woods."
For more information about Rhode Island state parks and other DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.