If all goes as planned, the state will take title to 83 acres of the former Rocky Point Amusement Park this morning in City Hall.
The $9.65 million sale by the Small Business Administration, the court appointed receiver after the park closed and filed for bankruptcy in 1995, brings to a close a period of uncertainty and opens a window to multiple possibilities. There are possibly as many ideas on what the Rocky Point of the future should look like as there were clam cakes sold on a hot afternoon at the Shore Diner Hall.
But, and this is the significant achievement, with state acquisition, all 124 acres of the park are being preserved for public access. The city initiated that more than six years ago when, with the help of the state and federal funding, it acquired 41 acres of park coastline – the jewel in the Rocky Point crown – for $4.4 million. Wisely, the administration worked quickly to open the land to the public; building an asphalt walkway that supports a steady stream of joggers, walkers, fishermen and all who seek to rekindle Rocky Point memories.
There is little question that will continue, if not increase, when all of the property becomes accessible.
But what will go at the park? How will development affect area residents? How will those developments or cleaning up what is already there be funded? And what can be done to ensure a stream of income to meet the cost of security and upkeep?
Answering these questions will take time.
We don’t expect a single person or agency to have the “magic plan,” although that’s not to say it couldn’t happen.
As the next chapter on Rocky Point opens, we hope that those who love the site play a role in setting its course. That could be a lot of people, but that is the intention of public hearings now being planned by the Rocky Point Foundation, the non-profit group that lobbied to get $10 million on the 2010 ballot to have the state purchase the land.
The foundation has a meeting set for Tuesday, May 7 at 6 p.m. at Rhodes on The Pawtuxet, for the first workshop. Additional meetings may be held in other parts of the state, depending on the turnout.
The themes and specific ideas brought forward will become a report to be made available to the state and the city. And, naturally, it will be made available to the public who will be paying for it.
Let the discussion and the dreaming begin.