First Purchase for Warren Waterfront Plan (RI)

WARREN, Rhode Island, 11/5/02: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation organization, announced today its purchase of roughly 1.25 acres from Eastern Yacht Services, Inc. and EYS Properties LLC. This acquisition marks the first phase of a joint initiative with the Town to maintain the Warren Waterfront National Register Historic District’s maritime heritage, provide public access to the waterfront, and create new economic opportunities.

Over the next several weeks, TPL will place permanent historic preservation and public access easements on the property’s six parcels, and sell each of them to private buyers for uses that are compatible with the Waterfront Plan put forward by the Warren Waterfront Study Committee. Anticipated uses for the six parcels include art studios, retail shops, a bakery and cafe, a wooden boat restoration shop, short-term storage for fresh fish, and private residences.

“I would like to congratulate the many fine people who volunteered their time and energy to make this dream a reality,” said Warren Town Council President Frank J. Alfano. “I am so proud of the team effort by the citizens of Warren who have been working on this issue. Clearly the benefits of our combined efforts will be felt for decades. I am especially thankful for the dedication and hard work of the Warren Waterfront Study Committee, town manager Michael Abbruzzi, town solicitor Tony DeSisto, the Warren Planning Board, my fellow councilmen, the Trust for Public Land, and the many citizens who have given valuable input.”

“The Town of Warren stands out as a community that is committed to protecting its unique character and marine heritage,” said Valerie Talmage, director of projects for TPL. “We are delighted to be helping the Town Council and Waterfront Study Committee create new economic opportunities while also ensuring that future generations will have access to the town’s historic waterfront.”

“Without the Trust for Public Land, the Town of Warren would not have been able to carry out this forward thinking plan,” said Davison Bolster of the Warren Waterfront Study Committee. “This project sets the standards and the direction of our waterfront’s development. By combining public access, historic preservation and economic development, we are stabilizing this historic working waterfront and the adjacent neighborhood.”

Recently proposed as the site of a condominium development, the Eastern Yacht property consists of six parcels on Water, Church, and Baker Streets and includes approximately 700 feet of frontage on the Warren River. It also includes two residences, an historic bank building, boat slips and a waterfront “barn” and shed. TPL purchased the land for $1.65 million. T

PL began negotiating the purchase last January, at the request of the Waterfront Study Committee. Last June, the Study Committee made formal recommendations to Warren’s Town Council, which included maintaining a working waterfront, providing public access, preserving historic buildings, and keeping as much of the land on the tax rolls as possible. The Town Council endorsed the recommendations on June 18, 2002.

In the second phase of the waterfront partnership, TPL hopes to purchase the adjacent Harbor Marine property, which is just over one acre, from Anawan Realty, Inc. by the end of December. TPL will then transfer the majority of the land to the Town for use as a public waterfront park, town marina, and possible future ferry-landing site. A small portion of the property, roughly 10,000 square feet, which includes a commercial/industrial building, will be sold to a private buyer.

Because the Harbor Marine property was formerly used as a coal storage facility, TPL is having environmental testing done. The testing should be completed within two weeks, and TPL and the Town will then discuss remediation alternatives to eliminate any remaining hazardous coal.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has granted $500,000 to the Town towards the acquisition for a ferry landing. In addition, a gift from local business owner Luther Blount, who last year generously pledged $1 million towards the Town’s acquisition of the waterfront, will help cover a portion of the costs. As a result of this extraordinary gift, the Town of Warren will not need to contribute any municipal funds to the acquisition.

“I would like to commend Davison Bolster and the Waterfront Study Committee for guiding this project,” said Luther Blount. “I am happy the waterfront is being kept for the public, and hope that the potential for tourism development will be kept in mind.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 100,000 acres in New England.