Marine One, the Fire Department’s major boat, has a new berth and the city has a partnership with Warwick Cove’s newest marina: Fairwinds at 2 Seminole Street in Oakland Beach.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Joseph Solomon visited the marina, coincidentally moments after firefighters responded to a call for assistance on Narragansett Bay. With red lights flashing the fireboat was headed toward open waters at what seemed to be a leisurely pace.
The boat would pick up speed once it left the “no wake” buoy near the mouth of the cove. The proximity of that buoy played an important part in why acting Warwick fire chief, Marcel B. Fontenault Jr. talked with Fairwinds owner Joseph McGrady in the first place.
Fontenault had a problem where Marine One was docked at the end of the cove. Getting to open water took 15 to 20 minutes. Going faster could be dangerous, leaving a wake that could set other boats and docks rocking.
“Saving someone while endangering someone else is a huge risk to take,” said Fontenault.
Fontenault decided that since Fairwinds Marina is located near the mouth of Warwick Cove, it was the safest option to dock Marine One.
McGrady was happy to accommodate the fireboat providing the year-round dockage that includes electricity and water for about $2,000.
McGrady, who was in the Massachusetts Air National Guard as fighter pilot relates to the firefighters on the level of protecting the community.
“Of course we love the support of our local community and our firefighters. I am a big fan of that, I spent twenty-five years in the military so I know what it's like to wear a uniform and to serve. Anything I can do to help out, I’m there for you guys,” he said.
Solomon also commented about how the marina and Fire Department would benefit the community as a whole. “This is a prime example of the partnership of the private sector and the public sector. I came to about this facility through our chief, Chief Fontenault, and we were searching for a place to slip our marine apparatus…Most importantly he told me about the owner of this facility who had compassion for the new community he’s come to. He told me about how he wanted to help the City of Warwick relative to their public safety response,” said Solomon.
McGrady and Eric Presby bought the marina from John Williams last August for $805,000. Since then they have transformed the area cleaning out derelict boats, rebuilding many of the docks and renovating buildings on the property.
Solomon said he wanted to see the marina for himself and made an unannounced visit on a recent Saturday.
“Everyone was so positive, the attitude, I looked around the beautiful facility we see here today. I said this was the right choice for the City of Warwick and I know the City of Warwick was the right choice for you [McGrady].”
Both parties believe that the marina will help the community and economy of Warwick.
Solomon said the marina would be a major contributor to Warwick’s economy. He believes the renovated marina will draw people into the area, which means restaurants and shops in the area will get an economical boost.
McGrady is pleased with the response to the marina since purchasing it and undertaking major renovations. When interviewed this spring, O’Grady was hopeful of filling 50 percent of the slips. He said Wednesday it is at 75 percent of capacity. Now he is looking to build upon that with highly competitive winter storage rates. As he has done with his Dutch Harbor Marina in Jamestown, McGrady will also provide boat services including bottom cleaning, shrink wrapping, engine repair and winterization as well as commissioning services in the spring.
Recognizing that boat owners often prefer to do the work, or have their favorite service person do it, that will be permitted. As the marina does not have its own hauling services, O’Grady said he has made arrangements with two nearby yards. He will not be able to accommodate sailboats unless their masts have been un-stepped.
McGrady had hoped to open a snack bar as part of the marina this year. Now he’s thinking of an ice cream shop next season. He wants to keep it local, mentioning the possibility of serving Warwick Ice Cream.
Even before the ribbon ceremony, Mayor Solomon commented on how he believes McGrady will help out the community.
"He is a super guy who takes pride in his marina, is taking pride in our community, and is taking pride in public services and safety."