August 5, 2008

Council Wants an Update on Narrow River Dredging Project

By Randal Edgar

NARRAGANSETT -- In a perfect world, the long-awaited dredging of Narrow River would be good for the environment, good for boaters and good for the Town Beach.

But when will the project take place? What will it accomplish? Will sand that could be used to restore the beach be dredged from the mouth of the river?

Looking for answers to these questions, the Town Council last night voted to schedule a workshop with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service and the towns of North Kingstown and South Kingstown.

The idea for the workshop came from Councilman Christopher Wilkens, who said it's time for the town to check on the status of the project and bring the interested parties together for a face-to- face meeting.

"We get little snapshots here and there, it's on, it's off," he said of the project. "But nobody in town has been contacted."

Wilkens said he sees the goal of the dredging project as threefold: improving the environment along the river, improving navigation on the river, and replenishing sand that's been lost over the years from the Town Beach.

With help from Sen. Jack Reed, $465,000 has been allocated for the Corps of Engineers to undertake the project, said Town Manager Jeffry Ceasrine.

But he said it is unclear when the project would be done and what the scope would be, or if more money is needed.

"The last time we had contact with the corps was the spring of '07," he said.

In an interview in April, a Corps of Engineers official said dredging near the mouth of the river -- where sand to restore the Town Beach would come from -- would do little to improve the flow of water and therefore might not happen. But dredging upstream to restore salt marshes and other natural habitats would take place, said Larry Oliver, a project manager.

Asked about the timing of the project, Oliver said it was not expected before 2011.

Wilkens didn't like the idea of such a long wait.

"That beach, right now where you see the low-tide mark, that should be the high-tide mark," he said.

The council voted to suggest two dates to the other interested parties: Sept. 2 or Sept. 15. In either case, the workshop would be held before a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Narragansett [email protected] / (401) 277-7418

Originally published by Randal Edgar, Journal Staff Writer.

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