SOUTH KINGSTOWNâ€”The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced on Thursday the recipients of matching funds for recreational open space development. Although the greatest portion of funding has been awarded to the larger, urban centers of Rhode Island, Broad Rock Park in South Kingstown will receive $53,000 for upgrades to the baseball field and Dog Park there. Another $53,000 will be matched through local capital improvement funding.
$4.2 million were given in total to renovation projects across the state, $958,734 of which comprises funding for 16 small recreation development projects, including the Broad Rock Park. According to Theresa Murphy, Director of Leisure Services in South Kingstownâ€™s Recreation Department, the funding is a welcome addition to its capital improvement program.
â€śWe are thrilled to be receiving the money from DEM because we will be able to start planned improvements even sooner,â€ť said Murphy. â€śThe [$53,000] will be matched through local capital improvement dollars.â€ť
â€śThe town has been fortunate enough to receive some grant funding in the past from DEM,â€ť she added.â€ť The Village Green project, for example, was constructed using funding from DEM and the town. South Kingstown has taken advantage of the application process and submitted because that funding allows us to do so much rather than use the limited capital dollars that we have.â€ť
A drinking water line will be constructed through the South Kingstown Dog Park behind the YMCA off of Broad Rock Road, and a stairway for access to the park will be built as well.
â€śWe will also be able to construct an extension of the retaining wall along the hillside where it is becoming deteriorated,â€ť said Murphy. â€śI think [the funding] is critical for the community to be able to access parks and facilities that are maintained on an ongoing basis.â€ť
â€śIn addition to the townâ€™s capital improvement plan, these grants enable us to do [improvements] better and to have exceptional facilities,â€ť she added. â€śMost of the public would agree that all ages use our parks for passive and active recreation, and this funding is nothing to sneeze at. We are definitely happy to have it.â€ť
The funding awarded by DEM has been applied through the last number of grants from Rhode Islandâ€™s Open Space and Recreation Development Bond, voted upon and authorized in 2008. Of these remaining funds, another $2,249,895 will provide monies for 13 larger urban and suburban renovation projects through Rhode Island. $200,000 from the Open Space bond will be added to $790,000 for construction of a recreational trail and access road on the McHale property in East Greenwich, near East Greenwich High School. In North Kingstown, $132,895 has been allotted for roadway, bike path, and picnic area improvements at Calf Pasture Point in North Kingstown.
â€śDEM is delighted to award these grants that will help expand and improve the recreational opportunities available to Rhode Islanders in neighborhoods across the state,â€ť said Janet Coit, DEM Director. Â â€śThe wide-range of projects funded by the grants will help enhance the quality of life in local communities and ensure a beautiful Rhode Island and healthy Rhode Islanders.â€ť
The Rhode Island Recreation Resources Review Committee was responsible for selecting the 35 state-wide projects from 44 submitted applications. The group consists of members from local recreational development committees, from the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns and the Rhode Island Parks and Recreation Association to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
â€śIt is a group of about 10 of us, DEM sits on it, and there is a scoring process whereby points for each question are given,â€ť said Katherine Bradley, second-year member of the Committee. â€śWe work for several weeks, order the applications, tally the points up, and [the applications] fall where they lie.â€ť
â€śThe process is pretty competitive, and there were a lot of requests this year,â€ť she added.