One hundred years ago, a small group of committed local residents recognized the need for a community hospital, laying the foundation for what is now South County Health, a leader in the delivery of superlative, high quality health care.

More than 35 years ago, South County Hospital found itself in an enviable but challenging position. As the hospital grew, it was quickly running out of space.

In partnership with local officials, hospital administration came up with a unique proposal: trade six acres of town-owned property adjoining the hospital for land South County Hospital would purchase on Tuckertown Road. The result was a net gain of 65 acres that today stands as one of the area’s most heavily-used recreational facilities -- Tuckertown Park, home to tennis courts, soccer fields, a baseball field, and a playground.

Today, we are in similar predicament. Our goal is the same as the community’s; we both want South County Health to continue operating as a high performing, independent health system. To make that happen, we need to continue growing strategically.

Parking is critical to our growth. Patients, visitors, and employees alike can attest to the shortage of parking on our main campus. For years, we have offered valet parking and have shuttled employees into work from off-site locations. We need a longer term solution.  

We have been working with the local community and officials, our Congressional delegation, and others on a plan developed in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). We believe it is a win-win for our health system and the town.

South County Health is proposing a land swap like the one that forever changed our community’s recreational capacity in 1983. In this case, there would be net gain of 28 acres in parkland to be enjoyed by all.

In this proposal, the hospital would purchase 35 acres at 494B Glen Rock Road in South Kingstown, which would then be “swapped” for seven acres at Town Farm Park, also known as the Kenyon Avenue playground. The hospital would then utilize this land for additional parking.

The Glen Rock parcel offers an array of recreational opportunities like hiking, fishing, and bird watching. The two-acre Glen Rock lake is suitable for canoes and kayaks. The town would offer parking and public access from a town-owned parcel at the corner of Gardner Road and James Trail.

It is understandable that some are concerned about the loss of the baseball field at Town Farm Park. Data supplied by the town shows a dramatic decrease in the field’s usage, which is natural given our community’s changing demographics. Thankfully, there are a number of alternative fields available locally for baseball and softball.

The land swap will create recreational opportunities for people of all ages. If endorsed by the Town Council, this proposal would be submitted to the DEM, which would in turn submit it to the National Park Service for further review. Like the 1983 land swap, this plan would positively impact the community for generations. For South County Health to remain a vital health care leader and one of the area’s largest employers, this proposal is critical.

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