Starting Tuesday, May 7, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, the public is being asked to help write the ticket for the future of Rocky Point Park.
The Rocky Point Foundation, a non-profit organization that lobbied to have the state save all of the former amusement park land, will sponsor a public forum beginning at 6 p.m. to talk about the park and solicit ideas on how it should be developed. This is the first of what could be several forums in other parts of the state, as the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) considers the use of the 83 acres acquired earlier this year and how it will be integrated with the 41 acres of shoreline bought by the city of Warwick with the help of state and federal funding six years ago.
Suggestions on how the park should be developed are already filtering in to DEM and the Foundation. Proposals have included a fishing pier and ferry dock, restaurant and facilities that could accommodate weddings, walking paths and picnic areas, and bringing back some of the rides that were the park’s signature for more than 100 years.
But that is only a sampling of the possibilities, and the Foundation is asking people to dream of what the park’s future could be.
Janet Coit, DEM director, will open the forum with the introduction of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who worked to reach an agreement with the Small Business Administration, court appointed receiver for the park that closed in 1995, to buy the property for $9.65 million. Chafee has budgeted $2.5 million for the cleanup of the property, beginning with the demolition of the Shore Dinner Hall and the Palladium and Windjammer that are in serious states of deterioration.
Coit is hopeful of opening the state land by the end of this year, although its final development may take many years.
First, there needs to be a vision of what the park could be.
Coit said the future development of Rocky Point Park would be a collaborative process, involving many stakeholders and partners.
“Now that the state has secured ownership of Rocky Point, we want a discussion with the public on the development of this special area that is part of our history,” said Coit. “Next week’s session sponsored by the Rocky Point Foundation will be the first of many opportunities to hear from the public as DEM moves forward to create a new state park for residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”
Providence planning consultants Veri/Waterman, who are donating their services, will facilitate the forum. Following a brief presentation on the history of the park and park development in other parts of the country and world, those attending will be asked to break into groups of eight and 10 to explore concepts and ideas. Those proposals will then be collected and shared with the entire group. Veri/Waterman will prepare a report to be shared with the state and disseminated publicly.
The Foundation is also looking to solicit ideas through its website, getthepoint.org, and with an online survey, which has yet to be finalized.
“We’re looking to make this fun and exciting,” said Foundation president John Howell.
Tickets recovered from the former park that have been made into key chains will be given to all attending and then used in a raffle for mugs and other items.
“So many have so many fond memories of Rocky Point,” said Howell. “What the Foundation hopes to do is to get people thinking about what the park can be so good times will be enjoyed by generations to come.”