Waterfront Preservation Project Nears Completion (RI)

WARREN, Rhode Island, 3/17/2003: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation organization, announced today its purchase of the 1-acre Harbor Marine property on Water Street from Anawan Realty, Inc., for $1.575 million. This purchase marks a major step forward in a larger effort to maintain the Warren Waterfront National Register Historic District’s maritime heritage, provide public access to the waterfront, and create new economic opportunities.

Later this week, TPL plans to sell a ?-acre parcel of the land to the Town of Warren for use as a public waterfront park, town marina, and future ferry-landing site. Because a grant of $500,000 from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will fund the Town’s acquisition, no municipal funds will be used for the purchase.

“We are very pleased to have reached this milestone in the effort to preserve Warren’s waterfront,” said Valerie Talmage, director of projects for TPL. “Many partners have worked hard to bring the project this far, including town officials and staff, volunteers, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, and RIDOT. We would also like to say a special thank you to Luther Blount, whose $1 million gift was essential in providing public access to the Harbor Marine and nearby Eastern Yacht properties. His contribution also made it possible to restrict the future uses of both properties, in order to preserve the area’s maritime heritage and contribute to its vitality.”

“I would like to congratulate the many fine people who have volunteered their time and energy to this incredible project,” said Warren Town Council President Frank J. Alfano. “Our historic waterfront would not have been protected without the hard work of everyone involved. I am especially thankful for the commitment of the Warren Waterfront 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 RIDOT grant for the Harbor Marine purchase was made possible as a result of federal funding under the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century. The Harbor Marine purchase also received strong support from Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.

“I applaud the Town of Warren, the Trust for Public Land, Luther Blount and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for having the vision to join together to preserve Warren’s working waterfront,” said U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee. “When this Enhancement Program was reauthorized in 1998, its biggest boosters were mayors and local officials, and their input was critical in not only continuing the program but expanding it. This program is a perfect example of how the federal government can work with states and municipalities to bring about positive action in the community.” ?

“Warren’s waterfront is a vision of how we can balance alternative transportation and environmental needs with highway funding,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “The residents of Warren will see first?hand the benefits of the enhancement program and how it directly complements more traditional highway funding.”

“Securing open space that both protects our environment and provides areas that our residents can enjoy has always been a top priority of mine,” said U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy. “My thanks to the Trust for Public Land for the leadership they’ve taken in protecting this parcel along Warren’s beautiful waterfront area. I look forward to enjoying this picturesque area along with the residents of the East Bay and am pleased I was able to play a small role in securing it.”

“Since day one, I have been committed to this project,” said RIDOT director James R. Capaldi, P.E. “As RIDOT’s new team leader, and a team player for 32 years, I know that protecting this waterfront is vital not only to Warren but to the State of Rhode Island as well.”

TPL will continue to own the remaining ?-acre of the Harbor Marine property, including two commercial industrial buildings and a small residence, for the next several months. The organization plans to protect these parcels with permanent use restrictions and then resell them for uses that will contribute to the revitalization of the area. Marketing of these parcels will begin later this spring.

Because the Harbor Marine property was formerly used as a coal storage facility, a soil management plan must be approved by the state for the entire property, to remediate any residues from the coal. The Town and TPL will work cooperatively to complete this process. Last November, TPL purchased a nearby 1 ?-acre property from Eastern Yacht Services, Inc. and EYS Properties, LLC and placed permanent historic preservation and public access easements on the property’s six parcels. Each of the parcels was then sold to private buyers for a variety of uses, including artist studios, a bakery and cafe, and private residences.

“This project could not have happened without TPL,” said Davison Bolster of the Warren Waterfront Committee. “They brought the experience, funding, capacity, and expertise needed to present a credible plan to the Town Council. Combined with the donation by Luther Blount, and a huge effort by the community, as well as numerous state and local officials, we have created a unique blend of economic development, historic preservation, and public access on our waterfront.”

Last June, the Warren Waterfront Committee made formal recommendations to Warren’s Town Council, which included maintaining a working waterfront, providing public access, preserving historic buildings, maintaining marine-related uses, and keeping most of the land on the tax rolls.

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, open space, and historic sites. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.5 million acres nationwide, including nearly 150,000 acres in New England.