PROVIDENCE – As part of a continued focus on supporting healthy communities and promoting outdoor recreation, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today awarded $3 million in matching grants to 15 local municipalities to develop or renovate recreational facilities in their communities. The grants will fund 19 projects across the state, including new basketball, pickleball, and multi-sport courts; a boat ramp; universally-accessible outdoor fitness equipment; sports fields; a water-play feature; restrooms; and various site improvements.
"Having clean, safe and attractive parks and recreational facilities in our communities provides tremendous economic, health, and environmental benefits for Rhode Islanders," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Modernizing playgrounds, sports fields, and walking trails will encourage people to get outside, get active, and explore our beautiful state."
Rhode Island's outdoor recreation industry is an increasingly important part of our state's economy, contributing an estimated $3.3 billion annually and supporting 36,000 jobs. As part of a larger network of recreational opportunities in the state, municipal facilities play an important role in beautifying communities, supporting public health, and promoting a cleaner environment. Including today's awards, 519 grants have been awarded and $73 million invested in improvements in all 39 Rhode Island communities since the inception of DEM's community recreation grant program in 1988.
"We're thrilled to assist communities across Rhode Island to improve and expand their recreational facilities through these grant awards," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Providing people with places in their neighborhood to get outdoors and enjoy nature is part of DEM's core mission, is good for health, fosters our next generation of environmental stewards, and ensures Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to live."
Rhode Island's historic parks, bikeways, and green spaces provide opportunity for public enjoyment – in addition to improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state's climate resilience, and supporting the economy. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 local jobs.
The grants, which require a community match and range from $77,600 to $300,000, are funded through 2016 Open Space bond proceeds. Categories include large grants which range from over $100,000 up to $300,000 each, and small grants of up to $100,000 each for projects of smaller cost. The state grants will be matched by local funding to generate over $5 million in recreational project improvements throughout Rhode Island.
Applications were evaluated and scored by the Rhode Island Recreation Resources Review Committee, consisting of government and non-profit members, using the Open Project Selection Process (OPSP) developed under the 2009 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. This is one of the "Green Space" grants DEM offers to local communities.
The small grants being awarded today include:
Barrington: Police Cove Park Public Space Enhancement Project, $95,280 Installation of a new water play feature, shade canopy, game tables, and plantings
Burrillville: Burrillville Dog Park & Walking Paths, $100,000 Installation of a new fenced dog park near the existing animal shelter, walking paths, landscaping, and a 24-foot wide driveway with 24 parking spaces
Central Falls: River Island Campground Renovation, $100,000 Create additional camp sites and renovate the existing campground, walking trails, and footbridge; increase kayak access points to the Blackstone River; remove poison ivy, and add new fire pits
Coventry: Herbert Paine Memorial Park Multisport Court, $98,000 Replacement of two tennis courts with eight multi-sport courts for low-impact sports such as pickleball and badminton; installation of new and upgraded fencing and mini-volleyball and para-sports courts for players in wheelchairs
Cumberland: Eptheta Park Multi-use Field and Sensory Playground, $100,000 Installation of a new multi-use field and sensory playground equipment for ages one through eight, and a six-car gravel parking lot
East Greenwich: Fry Brook Outdoor Fitness Equipment, $77,600 Installation of new, universally-accessible outdoor fitness equipment with ground surfacing and connections from walkways to an existing path
Jamestown: Taylor Point Restrooms and Restoration, $90,000 Installation of a new restroom and improvements to the park entrance including a new wooden guardrail, defined access points, signage, and an ADA viewpoint
Newport: Miantonomi Park Restrooms and Upgrades, $100,000 Installation of new restrooms, sidewalk, ADA access, multi-level drinking fountain, and a bike rack corral
Providence: River Road Small Boat Ramp and Bank Stabilization, $100,000 Installation of a new concrete boat ramp, trash receptacles, and signage; riverbank restoration and stabilization
Providence: Veazie Street Park Fitness Equipment, $96,000 Installation of an outdoor learning and fitness challenge area and ADA pathways
South Kingstown: West Kingston Park Playground Improvements, $100,000 Renovations to existing playground
Warwick: Salter's Grove Playground Improvements, $100,000 Improvements to existing playground, handicapped-accessible apparatus, installation of a safety surface, new picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles, fencing, and landscaping
Large grants were awarded to the following projects:
Barrington: Latham Park Phase 2, $234,400 Installation of a new playground, pedestrian walkways, fitness trail, ADA viewing areas, stage, rain gardens, and plantings, and renovations to the existing volleyball court and parking lot
Central Falls: Macomber Stadium Softball/Baseball Field Remediation, $300,000 Remediation of softball/baseball fields; renovations to the irrigation system, bleachers, and dugout; and installation of perimeter fencing
Hopkinton: Langworthy Field Improvements, Phase II, $300,000 Installation of a new shade pavilion, lighting, perimeter walking loop, benches, picnic tables, concrete seating wall, stormwater infiltration, cameras, bike rack, and security cameras; upgrade the tot lot, expand parking, and replace trees
Lincoln: Fairlawn Park Renovation, $300,000 Installation of new basketball and pickleball courts, shade pavilion, and concession stand; replacement of a play structure; and renovation of an existing walkway path, outfield fencing, and the exterior of an existing restroom facility
Middletown: Multiuse Athletic Fields on Vacant Drive-In Property, $300,000 Installation of two new multi-purpose recreation fields, ADA restrooms, security lighting, irrigation system, stormwater best management practices, buffer plantings, and an ADA sidewalk/steps/ramps from parking lot
Newport: Vernon Park Tennis/Pickleball Courts, $180,000 Renovation of existing tennis courts and installation of a pickleball court, new posts, nets, fencing, benches, and an equipment storage box
Woonsocket: Cass Park Softball Field Improvements and Playground Renovation, $300,000 Installation of a new softball field, fencing and netting, benches, lighting, paved walkways, a new lawn area, scoreboard improvements, and renovation of an existing playground
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.