September 30, 2014
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13 could be Rocky Point's lucky number
Warwick Beacon photo
MORE TO COME: The Rocky Point coastline pictured here from the northern end of the park has already been preserved. With the anticipated sale of more than 80 acres to the state, all of the former amusement park will have been preserved for public access.

Feb. 1 came and went without a competing bid for the more than 80 acres of the former Rocky Point Park that the state hopes to buy for $9.65 million. Now Feb. 13 is on the calendar, followed by an unnamed day in March.

And even further ahead, Mayor Scott Avedisian looks forward to a relationship with the state that will not only rejoin the 41 acres of Rocky Point coastline the city acquired in 2008 with about 82 acres, but also outlines the development and uses of the land.

More immediately, the focus is on next Wednesday when Federal District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux considers the request of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that was appointed receiver for Moneta Capital to sell the land.

The significance of Feb. 1 is that it was the deadline for competing bids that would have had to have been at least 110 percent of the state’s offer to be entertained.

“Our position is to go into court on the 13th and ask to confirm our request,” SBA District Director Mark Hayward said Tuesday.

Although there are no bids at this time, a potential buyer could still show up in court and appeal to Lagueux.

When questioned, Hayward said there have been other interested parties, which he did not name.

“There have been people asking questions, but no formal proposals,” he said.

Assuming court approval, the next date would be a closing for the property, which could happen by the end of March.

Avedisian says he’s excited. He plans to hold a meeting with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) that has been handling the purchase and would operate the park, “so we can hit the ground running.” Among the many issues he sees is establishing policies used to respond to requests that the city is already receiving. He said people have inquired whether they can erect benches in memory of loved ones at the park.

Citing Conimicut Point, where several benches have been privately installed along with shrines, Avedisian said there needs to be uniformity. He suggested an option for memorializing could be a brick walkway with inscribed bricks.

A fundamental question is how the two property owners – the city and the state – will interact.

“They’ll own their land,” he said of the state, “with covenants to us.” Conversely, the city owns the 41 acres with covenants already in place to the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The city used $800,000 from an open space bond, plus $1.4 million from DEM to match the $2.2 million NOAA grant enabling the $4.4 million purchase. The agreement also includes conservation easements, which can’t be undone, the mayor added.

Avedisian sees split ownership of the overall park as a good thing.

“It forces everyone to pay attention,” he said.

He also imagines a role for an “overseer,” a group or entity that would coordinate park use so that conflicting activities aren’t booked between the city and state.

Even with state acquisition of the remaining park acreage, much will need to be done to the property. Two major buildings, the former Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium, are still standing, although in various stages of decay, along with scores of cottages in the Rocky Beach portion of the property. At the mayor’s urging, more than 40 structures that made up the park midway were leveled years ago. Piles of rubble dot the former park.

The city has offered to remove the cottages.

Estimates on cleanup have not been released, but generally it is projected to be more than $1 million and potentially much more depending on what is planned.

State funds for the purchase will come from $10 million earmarked for the park that was part of a $14.7 million bond issue approved by voters in 2010. A non-profit formed by citizens interested in preserving the entire former park, the Rocky Point Foundation, lobbied for placement of the referendum on the ballot and campaigned for its passage. The foundation aims to play a role going forward with a series of public meetings where people can share their ideas for the park’s future.


Comments
6 comments on this item

Follow the bouncing bonds on this, if you can...

1. RIDOT, in serious financial difficulty pledges the Shooters property as collateral for money needed for highway projects from the Feds.

2. In order to release the lien on the property so as to market it, the Feds have to get paid, so, we float a bond for $14.5M, roughly $5M goes to discharge the lien, the other $10M to "buy" Rocky Point for open space from the SBA. The property goes from RIDOT to the EDC??? Say it ain't so... Keep in mind, we are paying juice on the original money that was lent to the State DOT and now paying interest on that $14.5M bond.

3. Surprise, more money will be needed to clean up the site and make it suitable for open space shoreline access...Price tag for that, UNKNOWN, but I will bet another $5-15M...

4. The developers who were interested in building high end, luxury units on the site were willing to pay $ 16-22M for that right. If 200 were built and assessed at $600K each with our current residential tax rate, well, do the math...

5. You will end up with something that looks like a garbage dump, nearly impossible to maintain, unkempt, an eyesore attracting the wrong group.

6. This was an unholy alliance from the beginning, with collusion, conflicts of interest driving it and nimby-ism and scare tactics at its worst. It's like MONOPOLY money in the end, but who will pay?

LOL . .You clearly do not know what you are talking about; you are miximg and mashing

Mr. BenDover, stand up . .get your facts straight . . and then comment . . .p.s. go back to school . .start in 3rd grade and then proceed . . maybe one day you will earn your GED

OK E-1...Tell me where I'm wrong? Other posters are right about you...You have passive-aggressive issues and are a dilettante. Good luck with your shallow life in Mom's basement. Hope you get the help you need.

Hahahaha a dilettante, point to you . . .maybe you do a have your GED. . .but I do not live with mom . . .do you? You are a peculiar chap indeed, all this talk about moms. Stand up look around . .its better for your back

Rhode Islanders just love to criticize, and so do I. But this open space is a great idea for quality of life. It seems like the original contributor is saying that selling it to houses can be built would be good for Warwick. Each $600k house would pay only enough taxes each year to educate ONE child. The other two would be paid for by the rest of us. Residences are never a good deal for the tax base when you add in the children. Not to mention other services the city would be obligated to provide. Then there is traffic. As if West Shore Rd is not busy enough at rush hour! RI is the second most densely populated state, and most of that is the northeast corner which we are in. Open space is a good idea. I agree there will be some undesireables, litterers etc, but they will be in the minority of all the users of this great shorefront space, and our accredited police department should help keep them 'discouraged' from causing too much trouble.

TAXPAYER; You have made my point for me...You proffer the very arguments that the detractors have spewed since Toll Brothers said, "Thanks, but no thanks, we are not going to spend $22M with a real estate market going into a free fall and PAY FOR THE CLEAN UP at this time." Further, who said anything about houses? I was hoping a development similar to ANGEL-SEA would be built. I dare say the well heeled folks in there are not flooding the Warwick school system with students. If so, show me a school census from that development. If there are any students living there, they are no doubt older, and most likely attending private or parochial schools. The traffic argument is specious. If 200 units were built and each had 2 cars it is a quantum leap of faith to assume they would all be on the road at the same time during drive time in the morning. More talking points from the liars against the luxury units. The tangible property taxes on those cars would go very nicely with the property tax assessments. Lost in all of this is the fact that had those revenues happened, Warwick could utilize some of that revenue to retire its massive unfunded liability pension debt. God forbid we actually pay for and honor our obligations. Your point is taken regarding dense. I do believe this may very well be the second most dense State in the country, the only question would be what State could be more dense?

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