December 22, 2014
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Playing ball on relocation of Winslow Park

It hasn’t come easily or without a lot of rhetoric, but Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson tells us that a draft plan for the relocation of Winslow Park playing fields is nearing completion and that in the near future it will be shared with leagues and the new neighbors of the fields.

For those who haven’t followed the issue, the Winslow Park fields on Rhode Island Airport Corporation property are within the glide path zone for the runway off Main Avenue. Many years ago, the area was cleared of homes and the city was given permission to allow development of the fields, some of the best softball fields, we would add, in the state.

That was fine, even though landing jets seemed to be in danger of fly balls – a bit of hyperbole – until the Federal Aviation Administration told RIAC they wanted the playing fields out of there.

That direction coincided with RIAC plans to lengthen the main runway. The two thus became connected with RIAC pledging in a memorandum of agreement that it would relocate the fields as part of the City Council’s agreement not to bring legal action that would stall or halt the runway project.

The question, however, was where to relocate the fields.

For a time it looked like the Knight Campus of CCRI would be a good place, as the fields could serve multiple groups. But when an analysis was conducted, the fields turned out to be too costly because of ledge and there wouldn’t have been enough of them either.

RIAC’s fallback plan was land cleared of homes in the neighborhood sandwiched between Warwick Pond and the airport. The Lakeshore area has become somewhat of a neighborhood park, offering residents a convenient place to walk their dogs or bike and jog on what were once residential streets.

Understandably, residents were aggravated when RIAC sought city approval – the land required a change in zone since it would have been used commercially – to build private jet hangars on the property. The hangar plan was shot down.

Now the area is to become a locus for soccer and softball games.

Vella-Wilkinson is concerned that the playing fields don’t become a neighborhood nuisance. She told us that she wants to ensure all access is from the maintenance road off Airport Road – not via the neighborhood – and that there is no parking on neighborhood streets.

We look forward to seeing the proposed plan. After many years of talks about where the fields might go, RIAC and Vella-Wilkinson are to be commended for working out the details and affording the leagues and the neighbors the opportunity to fine-tune the plan.


Comments
2 comments on this item

I don't want to be a "Debby-Downer" so here goes.

First I would like to make it known my comments are based on the fact that I have seen Winslow Park re-located from Apponaug to it's current location. I think we're talking some 20 plus years. I am also a neighbor who resides across from one of the fields and have been a resident at

the same location all my life.

I wish Camille and all others who are associated with the re-location the very best in minimizing the impact on the "new neighbors".

Camille Vella-Wilkinson wants to "ensure all access" is from the maintenance road off Airport Road.

How does she plan to accomplish this?

This WILL NOT HAPPEN unless they block off access to both Lake Shore Drive and Cedar Swamp Road.

QUESTION: How do you get the word out to everybody regarding access off of Airport Road?

Someone had better tell the visiting softball teams from Apponaug Girls Softball, C.C.R.I. Women's Softball, the High School Softball Teams

and oh, let's not forget the Soccer teams as well.

How is Camille going to enforce the "No Parking" on the side streets? I can't wait to see this.

Regarding the playing fields not becoming a neighborhood nuisance. Camille should be very concerned about this.

Currently Winslow Park is not secured (fenced off) between dusk and dawn. I've seen people come here 24/7/365 during the night...

I recommend Camille and the other planners make this a "gated" and "secure" athletic complex. Oh, this will cost $$$$$.

Chuck McHaughey has even expressed his concern regarding the limited parking that will be available at the new site.

Let's also not forget currently the soccer fields are not located adjacent to the six softball fields unlike the proposed plan

at Lake Shore Drive according to FAA's artist rendering in the environmental impact statement.

Again, I wish Camille all the best in taming the neighbors especially during softball tournament time. It really gets crazy

around my property. There is something like 40 to 45 and almost up to 50 teams participating in the larger tournaments between

Friday beginning at 6PM and until late Sunday afternoon or early evening.

Time will tell. But what can one expect at the eleventh hour?

Based on my limited knowledge/viewing of the Winslow Park fields & accessibility, I don't believe the new fields will be adequate enough if it is hoped that they provide the full complement of athletic activities that the Winslow Fields did(especially for softball tournaments).

Warwick/the Leagues may need/want to prepare for alternative sites/field options to provide additional athletic games,etc. that MAY be needed.

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