Amy Beth Parravano had the right idea. Her suggestion was so outlandish that those who sat through nearly two hours of trading ideas over the future of Rocky Point last Tuesday realized they hadn’t heard it all, and laughed. And then the idea grew. Erecting a giant lobster that could be seen from points across the Bay, while impractical, seemed to fit a place that has special memories for so many.
After all, those attending the brainstorming session on the future of the park had been instructed to “think outside the box.” All suggestions were welcomed – in fact, encouraged – no matter how wild.
Other “wild” ideas included a water park, 300-room hotel, deep water dock capable of accommodating cruise ships, outdoor skating rink and cabins that would be rented on a weekly basis at an affordable rate on a lottery basis.
There were also a host of predicable suggestions at the forum run by the Rocky Point Foundation, including walking trails, ferry dock, fishing pier, museum, restaurant that could also serve for weddings, the return of some or all of the rides, playing fields and an area for outdoor concerts.
Underlying themes that were repeated, as facilitator and planner Mike Dowhan moved between tables; the park should have some form of revenue generating activity; that it should have multiple uses and that it employ “green” energy from the wind or sun.
Dowhan and the foundation will assemble the suggestions in a report to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). That may not be for some time. The foundation may conduct additional hearings in other parts of the state later this year.
In the interim, depending on legislative approval of Gov. Chafee’s $2.5 million budget to clean up the park, demolition of the Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium is expected to take place.
The cleanup is a start to the process of opening the land to the public. DEM director Janet Coit is anxious for that to happen, but with so much rubble on the property from what was once the park midway and the crumbling cottages of Rocky Beach, there are concerns for public safety.
Like the old Rocky Point that evolved for more than a century, the new Rocky Point also promises to be a process of evolution. The receptiveness and transparency, with which the state is prepared to consider all ideas, promises to keep Rocky Point a people’s park.