2017-11-22 / Front Page

Town seeks $400K for park improvements

Council OKs grant submissions for Taylor Point, Eldred Field
BY TIM RIEL

The parks department is requesting nearly $400,000 in grants to upgrade two recreational sites in town while making the soccer field handicap-accessible.

The town councilors gave their unanimous thumbs-up during Monday night’s council meeting. With their blessing, Andy Wade will submit the applications with the state Department of Environmental Management. Wade, who oversees the parks department, is requesting $90,000 for Taylor Point and $300,000 for the Eldred Avenue soccer fields. The grants will be for 80 percent of the estimated costs, although the town’s 20 percent match could be met through in-kind services.

“We’re trying to ride the wave of success that we had in the last round,” said Wade, referring to the $500,000 he secured in September 2016 to rebuild the North Road playground and upgrade the athletic complex at Lawn School.

At Taylor Point, Wade wants to install a solar-powered composting toilet at the popular fishing site. He also wants to improve the main trail entrance both “aesthetically and functionally” with signage, wooden guardrails and pedestrian gates at the top parking lot. Finally, the grant would subsidize work to correct the drainage system that has been causing erosion. Because the town is teaming with the Taylor Point Restoration Association, Wade expects the state to responds optimistically to the private-partner partnership. They also support the green toilets, he said, which the state operates at Beavertail State Park and the Charlestown Breachway.

“This can be seen as an attractive project to get behind,” he said.

At the soccer fields, the $300,000 grant would require $75,000 in taxpayer dollars, although that could be secured through labor. The idea is to remove the existing playing surface, then regrade it with a proper mix of sand and loam to promote better turf health and drainage, he said. However, Wade added, turning a “soccer field into a soccer field” probably would not be a top priority with the state, so he added other tasks to make it more attractive.

Along with installing a solar-powered composting toilet at Eldred, Wade wants to pave a pathway from the parking lot to the field that complies with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, because the state is a fan of “standing recreation,” Wade is requested money to clear the undergrowth beneath the beechwood forest for a picnic area.

“I tried to put a few items on there to make it score a little higher,” he said.

If successful, Town Administrator Andy Nota said it will be important to manage the renovations between Lawn Avenue and Eldred Field, which could be closed for a year.

Coyote update

Also Monday night, Police Chief Ed Mello updated the councilors on his proactive approach to aggressive coyotes.

Since his last report in mid- October, Mello said he has received reports of a few sightings but no serious incidents.

“Nothing earth-shattering,” he said.

However, Jamestown biologist Numi Mitchell of the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study is prepared to fit a coyote in town with a tracking collar. Moreover, her group has won a grant to study coyote activity at four sites in Rhode Island. The entire island is one of those sites.

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