NORTH KINGSTOWN—As the town begins to install sewers in Wickford, the village will be receiving a boost from the state to improve its waterfront. Through the Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement program, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced last week, North Kingstown will put over $200,000 towards revamping the public parking lot in the village.
“The Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement program is designed to make our central business districts more vibrant, walkable and welcoming,” said the governor. “In the process, we are supporting the small business owners who fill these districts with shops, restaurants and businesses that are the foundations of our communities and a key source of economic growth.”
Beyond the parking lot, funding will be used to add new seating and lighting on the waterfront, as well as improved landscaping. North Kingstown Town Manager Ralph Mollis said Tuesday that the scope of the project depends on whether the town can secure permission from a number of private properties surrounding the Wickford parking lot, although the grant money will be used strictly for the beautification of the publicly-owned land.
“[The grant award] is exciting for North Kingstown as it gives us the opportunity to move forward with not only ideas and visions from the community, but also allows us to incorporate resiliency adaptation measures,” said North Kingstown Director of Planning Nicole LaFontaine. “We held the Wickford Walking Charrette in 2014 where the conceptual idea was created. Since then, the town has heard interest through boards like WEDAB and through the comprehensive plan public process that connectivity of Wickford proper to the waterfront is a major missing link.”
“This opportunity will help us connect Brown Street to the waterfront and allow for further programming and enjoyment of Wickford Harbor,” she continued. “We have also been working with the University of Rhode Island and the Coastal Resource Center on green infrastructure measures, where the parking lot has been a focus of study.”
The grant will have to be approved by the town council, as well as an approximately $87,000 matching investment. According to the town’s release on the grant, the project is expected to be completed within 18 months.
Last year, neighbor East Greenwich received approximately $32,000 to make sidewalk improvements in the town’s historic commercial district. Jamestown will also receive $65,000 to improve the parking lot and landscaping at the East Ferry, while Westerly has been awarded $140,000 to repair sidewalks in its downtown area.
In its second year, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (RICC) is disbursing a total of $1 million to nine municipalities across the state.