Langevin Calls for Open Space, Beach Access at Rocky Point

Jun 18, 2001

(WARWICK NECK, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin today joined with local Warwick officials and community activists to call for a plan that preserves open space and public access to beachfront property at the former Rocky Point Amusement Park area.  Langevin is also calling on the White House to provide additional funding to the state to purchase the estimated $8 million, 124-acre oceanfront parcel. 

 Picture of the Old Gate“The State of Rhode Island has an unique opportunity to preserve a pristine area of open space for present and future generations to enjoy,” said Congressman Langevin.  “For years, Rocky Point provided local residents and tourists alike with a perch to view one of or greatest natural treasures, Narragansett Bay.  It is imperative that local organizations work with state government to develop a long term plan, that includes ample open space and public access to the beach area of Rocky Point.” 

Langevin has appealed to both U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management regarding funding matters, stating:

[begin letter to Interior Secretary] 

Dear Madam Secretary:

I would like to inform you of an exciting new endeavor that we are undertaking in Rhode Island to encourage open space preservation.  I am working with local organizations and civic leaders to establish as a public park the land known as Rocky Point, a site with great scenic, cultural and historical significance to the state.  I hope to join with you and the Interior Department in making this plan a reality.

Rocky Point, a scenic spot located in Warwick on the Narragansett Bay, has played an important role in the lives of Rhode Islanders for over 150 years.  Originally a site for Sunday school outings in the mid-1800s, Rocky Point later became a resort area frequented by people of all backgrounds, and boasted an early Ferris wheel and roller coaster, a hotel (where President Rutherford B. Hayes made the first Presidential telephone call), vaudeville and concert facilities, and a baseball field.  However, most Rhode Islanders of my generation associate Rocky Point with the amusement park that brought joy and delight to our state's families from 1948 until its closing in 1995.

Rocky Point is now subject to bankruptcy proceedings, and a statewide coalition is working to preserve the property as open space.  With two beaches, a scenic view of the Narragansett Bay, wooded areas, and a dock, the land is the ideal location for a park or similar recreational facility.  We expect to develop a public-private partnership to conserve this land, a strategy that you have repeatedly advocated as Interior Secretary.  As we move forward in this process, we request your assistance in locating and securing funding sources for Rocky Point preservation.

I thank you for your commitment to land conservation efforts, and look forward to working with you on this important project. 

[end letter]

[begin letter to DEM director] 

Dear Jan:

I would like to request the assistance of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in working with my office, local organizations and civic leaders to preserve Rocky Point park as open space.

Rocky Point, a site with great scenic, cultural and historical significance to the state, has played an important role in the lives of Rhode Islanders for over 150 years.  Originally a site for Sunday school outings in the mid-1800s, Rocky Point later became a resort area frequented by people of all backgrounds, and boasted an early Ferris wheel and roller coaster, a hotel (where President Rutherford B. Hayes made the first Presidential telephone call), vaudeville and concert facilities, and a baseball field.  However, most Rhode Islanders of my generation associate Rocky Point with the amusement park that brought joy and delight to our state's families from 1948 until its closing in 1995.

As you are aware, Rocky Point is now subject to bankruptcy proceedings, and a statewide coalition is working to preserve the property as open space.  With two beaches, a scenic view of the Narragansett Bay, wooded areas, and a dock, the land is the ideal location for a park or similar recreational facility.  I believe that resources from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has helped enhance such Rhode Island treasures as Goddard Park and Misquamicut, should be targeted for this project.  A state commitment to a public Rocky Point would help strengthen the public-private partnership needed for this endeavor to succeed. 

I thank you for your commitment to land conservation efforts, and look forward to working with you on restoring Rocky Point.

[end letter]
 

 The Congressman Speaks about Legislation to Preserve Rocky PointOn Capitol Hill, Langevin has co-sponsored HR 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, or CARA.  Under CARA, Rhode Island would receive an additional $255 million over the next fifteen years to purchase parcels of open space for preservation purposes, and to support historic and wildlife preservation, coastal conservation, and endangered species protection.  The legislation has 196 bipartisan cosponsors to date. 

“Failure to secure Rocky Point for open space and recreational purposes will place an uncontrollable demand on local schools and roadways,” added Langevin.  “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by, lest Rocky Point and the 124 acres become a concrete jungle in one of the most pristine areas on Narragansett Bay.” 

 The Congressman Speaks in Front of the Gate to Local Officials and ResidentsCongressman Langevin was joined by Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian, State Senator William Walaska, Councilman Carlo Pisaturo, Mark Garisson, a representative from the community organization Citizens for A Public Rocky Point and a number of members from Save the Bay. 

Langevin also invited those interested in additional information regarding the Save Rocky Point effort to log onto his web page at www.house.gov/langevin/rockypoint.  Here, people may share their Rocky Point memories with other web surfers and also find additional legislative options to help preserve Rocky Point.  Langevin can be e-mailed directly at james.langevin@mail.house.gov

On the web: www.saverockypoint.org

 A Forbidding Keep Out Sign at the Gate, Now Vandalized

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