By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff
KINGSTON, R.I. — The Greenhouse, at the University of Rhode Island, sits between acres of asphalt at either end of Flagg Road. Until last week, the greenhouses, on aptly named Greenhouse Road, enjoyed a green buffer between the building and Flagg Road. Not anymore.
The view from the building’s north-facing windows is no longer obstructed by trees, old or young. The older trees were recently cut down and the younger ones dug up in hopes they can be transplanted. The grass is gone, and soon will be replaced by parking spaces. For now the Greenhouse view is of dump trucks and bulldozers preparing the space for the arrival of the automobile.
URI’s most-recent removal of natural space to create additional parking has upset more than a few people and is reminiscent of what the former State Agricultural School did last year, only this time on a smaller scale.
(URI Botanical Gardens Blog)Last fall, construction at Flagg Road and Plains Road forever removed a significant portion of agricultural land. In fact, the building of a 330-vehicle parking lot and a new road began about a month before Rhode Island voters were asked to approve $20 million in bond money for, among other things, farmland preservation.
Some have called the university’s digging up of agricultural land to make way for more parking, especially in a state that has lost 80 percent of its farmland since 1945 and is actively seeking to increase the amount of food it grows, shortsighted.
URI officials say this work is needed because of the lack of on-campus faculty, staff and student parking. They also note that these projects are part of the 2000 University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus Master Plan.
In the meantime, while construction continues outside the Greenhouse, those looking for parking near the building will have to travel three-tenths of a mile east on Flagg Road or a half-mile west to find a spot.