PROVIDENCE – Demolition has begun at Rocky Point, launching the next phase of a $3.06 million project to restore and redevelop the property into a new coastal state park, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management said Wednesday.
Initial work will involve the demolition of the Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium/Windjammer building, which the DEM said are in serious disrepair and beyond restoration, and several remaining cottages on the site will also be demolished. In addition, workers will remove asbestos and perform restoration work at the main buildings and in the midway area.
This phase of the project is expected to be completed within two and a half months.
“This is an exciting step in the process of getting Rocky Point open to the public,” said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. “The walking path that is already open is one of the busiest locations here in the city, and we know that the rest of the park will only add to the popularity of this destination.”
The Rocky Point property had been a popular summer destination for Rhode Islanders and tourists for more than 150 years, first as a place for nature walks, and later as an amusement park, concert spot and home to the Palladium banquet and wedding facility.
When Rocky Point amusement park went bankrupt in 1995, the property was closed to public access. Warwick bought 41 acres of shoreline at Rocky Point in 2007 with the help of state and federal funding, and has since developed a public parking area and waterfront walkway, installed landscaping, and demolished vacant derelict summer cottages.
In March 2013, the DEM acquired 83 acres at Rocky Point with plans to integrate the land with the 41 acres purchased by the city.
According to DEM Director Janet Coit, the future development of Rocky Point Park will be a collaborative process involving many stakeholders including the Rocky Point Foundation and the city of Warwick. HK&S of North Kingstown, the contractor on the project, will coordinate with the city if there is a need for temporary closing of the shoreline walking path, the DEM said.
Possible features of the new coastal park include a system of walking paths, fields, fishing access and other recreational amenities. The state will seek public-private partnerships and explore federal funding opportunities for parkland development.