September 30, 2008

State Grants Boost Park Projects in 3 Towns

By Randal Edgar

Narragansett, Hopkinton and Richmond benefit from $100,000 DEM grants.

Plans to build public parks in three South County towns are moving forward on a surer financial footing this fall, thanks to three $100,000 grants that were recently announced by the state Department of Environmental Management.

The money is earmarked for projects in Narragansett, Hopkinton and Richmond, adding to money raised through local contributions.

The Narragansett grant is helping to pay for the Casino Courtyard at The Towers, a project that will replicate a courtyard that was outside the historic Towers on Ocean Road before the catastrophic casino fire of Sept. 12, 1900.

The new courtyard, which is under construction, will have benches, special lighting, and a fountain which will be the new home for a bronze fish sculpture that once sat atop a fountain near The Towers. There will also be a new service driveway running behind the courtyard to provide access to the rear of The Towers.

The project is expected to cost about $250,000, of which nearly $150,000 has been raised through donations, said David Ousterhout, the town's public works director and a member of the Friends of The Towers Committee.

About $90,000 of those donations have come through the sale of pavers that will line the courtyard floor. Another $60,000 has come from larger donations from donors that include Gilbane Development Co. and the Narragansett Improvement Trust, Ousterhout said.

The Narragansett Lions Club is overseeing the fundraising effort that is helping to pay for the courtyard, designed by local architect Patrick Brady.

The pavers come in two sizes: 12 inches by 12 inches and 9 inches by 8 1/4 inches by 14 inches, Ousterhout said. They can be inscribed with a memorial to a loved one or a special message. Anyone interested in ordering one should go to The Towers Web site,, he said.

Also receiving $100,000 is the Depot Square Park plan in the Hope Valley section of Hopkinton. The park is expected to complement the village's rich history with a wall of etched quotes about local history, a memorial fountain with a cast-iron urn that was once part of a horse trough at the village's train depot and a memorial sidewalk made up of individually engraved pavers along Mechanic Street.

The groundbreaking for the project, expected to cost $522,289, was yesterday, said Town Planner James Lamphere.

The third $100,000 grant is going to the Knowles Mill Park project in the Shannock section of Richmond. The park, on the site of the former Knowles Mill, is expected to provide public access to the Pawcatuck River and a footbridge over the river, connecting Richmond and Charlestown.

The DEM announced a total of $1.28 million in grants for 15 park projects across the state. The Rhode Island Recreation Resources Review Committee chose the 15 projects after reviewing 34 applications. [email protected] / (401) 277-7418

Originally published by Randal Edgar, Journal Staff Writer.

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