ENVIRONMENT

Court approves R.I. offer to buy Rocky Point property

PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN McDONALD
U.S. DISTRICT COURT has given approval for the sale of 82 acres of the former Rocky Point amusement park in Warwick by the U.S. Small Business Administration to the state for $9.65 million.
Posted 2/13/13

PROVIDENCE – The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island approved the state’s offer to purchase the remaining 82 acres of Rocky Point land in Warwick to develop a state park, R.I. Department of Environmental Management announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, as receiver for Moneta Capital, presented the state’s offer to purchase the property for $9.65 million to the District Court for final approval at a hearing held in Providence Wednesday afternoon.

“The Court’s decision today brings the state of Rhode Island significantly closer to successfully acquiring and preserving this iconic property,” Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said in prepared remarks. “Rocky Point, one of Rhode Island’s most beloved natural assets, holds many special memories of the past. I look forward to it becoming available for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy.”

The approval from the court begins a 30-day appeals period, which means that a closing on the property is at least a month away. The $10 million Open Space bond approved by voters in 2010 will fund the purchase.

“The creation of a coastal park at Rocky Point that will benefit Rhode Islanders for centuries is now just a small step away,” DEM Director Janet Coit said in a statement. “DEM is eager to see the public enjoy this special place now and for generations to come.”

Once the state secures the land, it will be DEM’s responsibility to develop a work plan and to secure funding to clean up and remediate the property for use as a park. According to the release, DEM has contracted to get an environmental assessment of the site and expects to use a combination of state and federal resources to help clean up the site in collaboration with the city of Warwick.

In his 2014 budget proposal, Chafee included $2.5 million for cleanup of the Rocky Point property, said the DEM release. Following the cleanup, DEM said it plans to work with Warwick and other partners to “restore the property for public benefit.”

Due to issues associated with cleaning up the site, public access to the Rocky Point property may not be available until the fall. Possible features of the new park include: a system of walking paths, fields, fishing access and other “recreational amenities,” said DEM.

“Thousands of people have visited our shoreline property since it opened nearly two years ago and we’re eagerly waiting for the day when the rest of the park will be available for Rhode Islanders to enjoy for years to come,” Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said in a statement.

In 2007, a city/state/federal partnership effort purchased 41 acres of shoreline property at Rocky Point. Over the past three years, the city of Warwick has made “tremendous strides in opening the waterfront portion for public use by developing a public parking area, a waterfront walkway, installing landscaping, and demolishing vacant derelict summer cottages.”

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