Visitors to Salter Grove State Park off of Narragansett Parkway in Warwick have reason to rejoice, as the Warwick Planning Department, in accordance with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), has submitted a request for proposals (RFP) to reconstruct the park’s causeway, which extends out into the breakwater, for public access and uses – primarily fishing.
The park is owned by the state, but the city is partially responsible for the management and upkeep of the grounds, so the two entities have partnered on the project. Warwick is responsible for securing the contractor to perform work and overseeing the process, and DEM will pay for the construction. The project has a maximum budget of $200,000, which includes design, permitting and construction.
According to the RFP and information from the Friends of Salter Grove, the history of Salter Grove’s causeway extends back to 1954, when Hurricane Carol ravaged the state and a group of local yachtsmen lobbied the state to build a breakwater to protect the inner harbor. That breakwater was completed in 1965.
An original causeway leading to the breakwater, which was used to construct the breakwater and was reportedly never mean to be permanent, has deteriorated over time. It currently has two specific areas of concern – gaps in the rocky jetty that are currently impassible without clamoring over slippery, moss-covered rocks or wading through the water during higher tides.
“I've always been afraid someone could go out there at low tide and then, when high tide comes in, they could get stuck,” said Ward 1 Councilman Richard Corley on Monday, who has been an advocate for rebuilding the causeway throughout previous years.
Representative Joseph McNamara (D – Cranston, Warwick) has also been an outspoken proponent of rebuilding the causeway as far back as 10 years – and shared the same sentiments as Corley.
“I am absolutely thrilled that this is being addressed,” he said on Tuesday. “I believe that it will potentially save lives, because the situation, as it exists, was and is extremely dangerous. Very often, individuals and families go out to the breakwater for recreation and fishing at low tide, and then come back and the tide has come in and it's potentially life threatening negotiating the jetty that goes out to the breakwater.”
McNamara thanked DEM, Corley, Mayor Scott Avedisian and fellow Warwick state legislator Senator Michael McCaffrey for their advocacy and seeing the value in repairing the causeway. He also gave a shout out to the Friends of Salter Grove, a neighborhood advocacy group that raises funds for, and awareness of, the park.
“They have been extremely instrumental in advocating for this and for improvements to Salter Grove, including completing the first phase of a fundraiser to replace playground equipment, getting and designing new trash receptacles and encouraging members of the neighborhood and community to utilize this beautiful park,” said McNamara. “There's a synergy now that I believe is coming together to really improve the quality of Salter's Grove. It has been a great team effort by a lot of individuals.”
Peter Becker, the coordinator of Friends of Salter Grove, said that they were delighted to see the RFP posted, thanks to the cooperation of the City of Warwick and DEM and the special efforts of Rep McNamara and Councilman Corley.
“Hopefully, permitting and other project elements will proceed smoothly so that the currently dangerous condition of the causeway is alleviated by the end of the year,” Becker said.
Corley said that he had yet to hear about RFP being submitted, but was pleased to learn that it had been.
“We're all on the same page that it's an important,” he said. “I am very excited that it will hopefully happen. I have been trying to get it done for about a year now and it would be great if it gets done.”