PROVIDENCE – The town of Bristol has been awarded an $861,000 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to turn the downtown Naval Reserve Armory into a municipal maritime center.
The $861,000 federal contribution will be matched by $896,000 in state and local funds that stem from a $9 million bond referendum approved by voters last November.
According to a feasibility study conducted by business students of Roger Williams University, the average visiting boater spends about $70 a day in Bristol and fully utilizing the harbor could bring in as much as $707,000 per year for the town.
“It is important to help cities and towns across Rhode Island capitalize on their assets and one of Bristol’s great attractions is our beautiful waterfront,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, in a release. “Turning the Naval Reserve Armory into a municipal maritime center will ensure that visitors and local boaters have access to high-quality facilities.”
Reed, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which oversees federal funding for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, will meet with Bristol officials and R.I. Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit on Monday, Sept. 9, to outline new plans to attract more boaters and anglers to Bristol and help boost the local economy.
The federal grant comes from a U.S. Fish & Wildlife fund designated to support recreational boating through the Boating Infrastructure Grant program, which promotes water access and opportunities for recreational anglers and boaters.
In 2008, Reed helped Newport secure a $713,000 federal Boating Infrastructure Grant to renovate the Armory Wharf and construct a central tie-up facility for visiting boaters, with restrooms and other amenities.
The Bristol municipal maritime center will feature amenities such as laundry, restrooms with shower, and storage. In addition to the maritime center, the project also includes the installation of 16 additional transient moorings, and a dingy dock with fresh water for eligible boaters.