2018-04-26 / Front Page

State awards $90K grant to upgrade Taylor Point parking lot

BY TIM RIEL

A solar-powered composting toilet and a freshly paved parking lot are in the pipeline for Taylor Point, the 20-acre town parcel under the Newport Pell Bridge — and the state is footing nearly 80 percent of the bill.

The work, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Tuesday morning, will be subsidized by a $90,000 grant from the 2016 Green Economy Bond.

“Having clean, safe and attractive parks and recreational facilities in our communities provides tremendous economic, health and environmental benefits,” she said.

The award was part of $3 million in matching grants to 15 cities and towns. According to Dennis Webster, a founding member of the Taylor Point Restoration Association, this money will finance improvements along the park’s entrance at Bay View Drive, including timber guardrails, bollards and signs. The Clivus Multrum toilet, he said, will be similar to the design at Beavertail State Park. The nonprofit association worked alongside the town parks department during the application process.

“We are delighted about the news,” Webster said.

The coastal parcel overlooking Potter’s Cove, officially named the Taylor Point Nature Preserve, has been undergoing a restoration of its natural habitat since Webster’s organization was created in summer 2015. The bulk of the volunteer work has been removing invasive plants and re-establishing native species. While the association’s main focus is preserving the habitat, Webster said improving accessibility to the rocky cliffs is an important element, although he hopes the manmade footprint will be minimal.

The town will contribute $25,000 to the work outlined in the grant, which includes measures to correct erosion problems at the lot. While this work is being done, Webster and his association will take the next steps in the design process for the trail. The path leading to Narragansett Bay, he said, is in rough shape because of poor drainage.

“The water running downhill creates a stream bed,” he said. “That whole thing is a drainage problem.”

While the grant references improvements that adhere to the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, Webster said this accessibility work does not fall under the scope of the town grant. Also, having wheelchair accessibility is no guarantee, although the association is crossing its fingers, Webster said. That’s because the slope leading from the parking lot to the water is on the safety threshold due to the incline. He also has concerns about a path for wheelchairs that leads to a 15-foot cliff into the ocean. Regardless, Webster said he is trying everything to make it work.

“It’s our endeavor to make it ADA accessible,” he said, “but we can’t guarantee anything until we talk to some experts.”

While Andy Wade, director of the parks department, is pleased with the $90,000 award, he is disappointed because the larger grant application for $300,000 just missed getting state approval. That money would have financed improvements to the soccer fields on Eldred Avenue.

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