December 19, 2014
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Court is last hurdle to Rocky Point purchase
John Howell
IN PREPARATION: Ronald Renaud, back to camera, chairman of the State Properties Committee, talks with Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, SBA District Director Mark Hayward and DEM Director Janet Coit prior to Tuesday’s meeting where the committee approved the purchase of Rocky Point.

It only took the State Properties Committee 20 minutes to approve a purchase and sales agreement Tuesday that director of administration Richard Licht said could profoundly impact the lives of Rhode Islanders for hundreds of years to come.

Unanimously, the committee approved state acquisition of the remaining 80 acres of the former Rocky Point Amusement Park for $9.65 million. The money will come from a $10 million bond issue approved by voters in 2010 and will go to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The court appointed the SBA the receiver soon after the park’s owner, Moneta Capital, filed for bankruptcy in 1995.

The next, and presumably the final, step in the transfer of the property – U.S. District Court approval of the sale – could come before the end of the year, according to SBA District Manager Mark Hayward.

“We’re on target,” Hayward said after the vote. The agreement calls for a closing on the property on or before Jan. 13.

There could be a twist in the road, a turn that could nix the deal and result in the property being privately developed.

No one speculated that would happen Tuesday and there was no talk of the provision that allows a qualified buyer to nab the property for a 10 percent purchase premium.

Nonetheless, state and Warwick officials have taken steps to lessen the chances of losing the property. In drafting the agreement, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the SBA agreed that 50 acres be preserved as open space. Another buyer would also have to abide by those terms.

And on Sept. 26, the Warwick City Council abated $2.3 million in unpaid taxes on the park. That abatement only applies should the state acquire the property, meaning in addition to a 10 percent premium; a prospective buyer would need to come up with an additional $2.3 million.

“Any Rhode Islander who has been here more than 20 years has a fond memory of Rocky Point,” Licht told the committee. He called the land a “jewel” and said “rarely do you get this opportunity to protect a property for perpetuity.”

He said that in a “couple of hundred years” Rhode Islanders would still be enjoying the park thanks to the actions taken today.

In opening remarks to the committee, DEM Director Janet Coit said there is not another property in the state like Rocky Point with its spectacular views of Narragansett Bay. Once the land is acquired, she said, it would be a “number of steps” before it would be accessible to the public, including its cleanup and development “so it truly becomes an amenity for the public.”

Ronald Renaud, committee chairman, agreed.

Renaud walked the property last week and in spite of debris left from demolished structures on the Midway and the crumbling Shore Dinner Hall and deteriorating Palladium, called the site “absolutely spectacular.” He said that the 80 acres is assessed at close to $15 million and that at $9.65 million, this “is a tremendous deal for Rhode Island.”

“It has been a long, long process to get here,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian. He called the park a “great amenity.” As the city, with state and federal assistance, was able to acquire 41 acres of park shoreline in 2007, the state acquisition would reunite the full former park property for public use.

Lisa Primiano, DEM deputy chief of the State Land Conservation and Acquisition Program, reported that a survey of what would be needed to clean up the property has been completed. She said there are no transformers on the land or hazardous waste. And she said the state has been in talks with the city over the demolition of the scores of Rocky Beach cottages on that portion of the land.

Primiano also touched on the sale of two lots that are on the other side of Palmer Avenue to the park to Kenneth Perry. Perry has served as the park’s caretaker for years. Should Perry execute the sale with the SBA, the funds realized would be deducted from the state’s cost.

“We’re still not sure that’s going to happen,” Primiano said of the sale to Perry. She said it’s to the state’s benefit to dispose of the Perry Lot, as it is referred to in the agreement.

Robert Griffth was the only committee member to raise questions over how the state will care and pay to maintain the park.

Coit said nothing has been budgeted at this point, but DEM would assume control and that it would come under the direction of the division of parks and recreation.

“We will work with some kind of partnership and generate revenue streams,” Coit said. Coit has said she looks forward to a public process where ideas for park development and means for it to generate revenues are publicly discussed.

Hayward also appeared before the committee.

“This has been a partnership,” he said, adding, “This has been long in coming.” He called the sale of the land to the state, “most apropos.” He thought the court might consider the sale as soon as next month.


Comments
6 comments on this item

Now RI should step up and make something out of this land, A Park yes thats a good idea!! But an amusement park?? AN EVEN BETTER IDEA!

I agree. I was five when I first went to Rocky Point. I was there the last year they opened as a carny. I went inside years after it was closed and in bad shape. I miss the old park. What a great place to take the family.Lets bring values back to the family.Memories you take with you forever.Boy I miss those clam cakes. Help bring families together again !!!

Well done so far,,,,,,seal this deal.......I love it!

Bring in Cedar Fair Entertainment to build and run the park. http://www.cedarfair.com

Rocky Point, more land taken over by the government and off the tax roles of the City of Warwick. Another maintenance nightmare for the remaining taxpayers left to pick up the tab. We took a taxable privately held asset and turned it into a public liability! The City of Warwick and State of Rhode Island have long been hard pressed to maintain the properties they already have, did we really need more?

In the City of Warwick alone we have Conimicut Point Park, Oakland Beach, City Park, Goddard Park all on the waterfront and we want more. Have any fishing piers or dining halls and the like been built or proposed on any of those properties? Who will pay for the maintenance? Check the condition of a little park in Conimicut on the corner of Beach Avenue and West Shore Road then try to imagine the City of Warwick or the State of Rhode Island trying to care for a large tract like Rocky Point...it will never happen Warwick and you know it! We have a boat launching ramp in Oakland Beach that was funded and built by the state and given to Warwick to maintain, go take a look at that mess....the North ramp is constantly filled with sand and most times unusable! The weeds are overgrown and out of control. I've yet to see a maintenance crew doing anything there, the list goes on and on! Did you know that the City of Warwick doesn't have an emergency boat launching ramp other the one at Oakland Beach, if they have to launch for an emergency off Conimicut Point the firefighters have to traverse the sand and oftentimes get stuck with their fire and rescue equipment. Talk to the Warwick Fire Department about it along with the implemtation of boat rescues on the bay and where they launch from. Ask how long it would take them to get from the Oakland Beach Ramp to Conimicut Point! How about after dark? We're sure going to have egg on our faces if there's ever an aircraft emergency off the Warwick shoreline. Here we are worrying about Rocky Point, let's do something smart for a change Warwick!

Rocky Point worked in the past when it was privately owned and operated by the Ferla family as a family entity. Families had one car back then and the whole family would pile in (little roads) and go for the day, those days are long gone and we still have little roads! Today's economy wouldn't support an entity that's only viable six months (at best)out of the year, that's why the former owners could no longer make a go of it! The taxes and insurance liabilities drove them out of business. If you doubt what I'm saying call your insurance carrier and the City tax assesor for quotes. If you acquired the property for free you wouldn't be able to make a go of it! Hold onto those memories as I have, it's time turn the page.

Rocky Point belongs in the private sector (2 1/2 acre house lots) bringing tax dollars to the City of Warwick, build something in Oakland Beach, Goddard Park, City Park, etc. where there's better access and egress. We do not (nor will we ever) have sufficient access and egress (Rocky Point Road and/or Palmer Avenue) to the Rocky Point property!

For your information the City of Warwick (I believe) turned away prospective (Rocky Point Property) developers in the past for the following reasons....

No building permits without the developers buying all the land and then having to give the strip of the waterfront to the city for free....there's a term for that which I dare not mention here.!

Outrageous and costly sewerage system requirements of any interested developer....

Inadequate access and egress to the property, would produce too many vehicles!

I'm sure if any of you care to dig deep enough into past council meetings you will learn what really happened!

If the City of Warwick received such a great deal on this property they should consider putting it on the market and profiting from it. Repair the roads and gain tax dollars, it would be a win win situation! There's more than ample open space in this little state of less than one million people with it's 39 local governments, a state government a federal government and plenty of parks that go mostly unused.

I think we should put another Amusement park.like were rocky point was be for.we need a nunn amusement park so people can bring ther children to play in the park to have funny.that is why we need a nunn amusement. Park.that is all i am going to say.you have my vote no that.ok.and thank you.a have a nice day

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