By ETHAN HARTLEY A picturesque, sunny fall day was the setting for a celebration at Salter Grove Memorial State Park on Saturday afternoon, as local officials, members of the public and - most importantly - lots of children gathered to bask in a renewed
A picturesque, sunny fall day was the setting for a celebration at Salter Grove Memorial State Park on Saturday afternoon, as local officials, members of the public and – most importantly – lots of children gathered to bask in a renewed green space that overlooks the ocean and represents an ecological gem in Warwick.
“What can you say – just look at the beauty that surrounds us,” Mayor Joseph Solomon said in his remarks before a crowd of around 150 citizens that had gathered. “I can’t say enough about the Salter Grove community.”
The completion of the park’s playground represents the most recent finishing touch on a park revitalization process that goes back to the formation of the Friends of Salter Grove in early 2016 – and even unofficially many years before that.
The group’s advocacy, combined with the legislative support from Senator Michael McCaffrey and Rep. Joseph McNamara – who were both in attendance on Saturday – resulted in two large grants from the state’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM), which helped reconstruct the causeway out to the breakwater and helped purchase equipment for and construct the new playground.
Going further, the playground project was helped along by over 1,000 hours of in-kind work from the city’s Department of Public Works, Solomon said, and local artisans donated handcrafted benches and trash receptacles that now adorn the park throughout. Other advocates and volunteers helped with landscaping and plantings, and the Department of Transportation rushed to erect a guardrail that protects the playground prior to the event on Saturday.
“This playground will stand as a symbol for years to come as an example of what good things can happen when we work together,” Solomon said.
Governor Gina Raimondo was unable to attend the celebration, but a state citation commemorating the event was read from her office. Megan DiPrete, chief of planning and development for DEM, challenged the crowd to close their eyes and listen to the sounds of nature that emanate from the park – unfortunately she did so right as a motorcycle started up its engines in the parking lot.
“Sounds like a Harley,” quipped one member of the audience, drawing widespread laughter.
Laughing along, DiPrete said that her point was to drive home how Salter Grove is one of the many examples of accessible natural beauty in Rhode Island, and how “This park represents the things that we strive for,” such as connectivity to nature and encouraging families to get out into nature.
“And economic development, with the airport nearby” she added quickly with a smile, as an airplane engine roared overhead.
Peter Becker, coordinator of the Friends of Salter Grove, encouraged people to enjoy the park but to do so responsibly so that it may last for many years to come. “Use your noodle,” he said, hearkening back to advice he often received from his father.
Becker also made sure to give special mention to Lynn Salter McCauley – a Warwick resident and the granddaughter of George B. Salter, for whom the park was named – who was also in attendance. McCauley said that being at the event was “very cool” and expressed pride that so much work was going into a park that bore her grandfather’s name. Salter was a Ward 1 councilman that helped steward the park during his tenure.