By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — Waterfront recreation will be coming back to Rocky Point in Warwick and the former Shooters nightclub site on the city's shoreline.
At its May 9 meeting, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) approved a new public pier for Rocky Point State Park, the iconic former amusement park on Narragansett Bay that closed in 1996.
The new T-shaped, fixed-timber dock will replace what remains of Rocky Point Pier, a warm-weather destination for recreational boaters dating back to the 1850s. The planned fishing and transient-boating wharf will extend 281 feet from the shore to a perpendicular, 110-foot-long dock section. A series of aluminum ramps and gangways will provide access to floating docks. Each floating dock will contain four boat slips. Boats will be allowed short-term, “touch-and-go” access to the slips. No overnight docking will be permitted.
Although there are no plans for a commuter shuttle boat to Providence, the pier will be built to accommodate ferries. Also, a 36-foot-by-21-foot roofed shelter with benches will be built at the end of the pier.
The goal of the project is to provide public fishing and boating access to the 121-acre park. The amusement park rides and buildings have been replaced with walking paths along the shore and trails through open fields and into wooded areas.
The CRMC board of directors voted unanimously to grant a high-intensity marina on the shoreline, a zone designated for low-intensity use common to residential areas. A CRMC review concluded that the project was worthy of a waiver because it serves a broad public interest as opposed to private or individual gain. Its merits include public and handicap access to the shoreline, as well as an economic boost for the recreational fishing industry.
A headwall will be built to connect the existing walking path with the new pier. The pier design accounts for sea-level rise and future storms by building the deck 13 feet above mean low tide.
Fragments of wood pilings from the former pier will be demolished and removed. Much of the current shoreline consists of a crumbling, stone riprap wall, a concrete seawall and a small beach.
The park and pier will be managed by the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Warwick bought the 41-acre shoreline portion of the park in 2007. DEM bought the remaining 80 acres In 2013. Money for the acquisition came from a 2010 $13 million voter referendum to buy Rocky Point and the Shooters property on India Point.
There is no start date for construction of the new pier, but the project will go out to bid in June.
There were no objectors to the project at the CRMC hearing. George W. Shuster Jr., legal council for the Rocky Point Foundation, said the new pier is consistent with the history and use of the property, as well as plans for the future of the park.
The Shooters nightclub property is a stage behind the Rocky Point Pier. A call to bid on the design of a wharf will go out soon from DEM. Like Rocky Point, the Shooters pier will have fishing and boating access. Seasonal ferry access to Newport would continue. The wharf would also include offshore moorings, dinghy storage, a fuel depot, and a pump-out station.
The cost of both projects will be funded through a marine infrastructure line item in DEM’s budget. The budget includes $3.6 million between 2018 and 2021. Federal funds will be needed to fund a portion of the Shooters project.
CRMC must also vote to approve a waiver to change the shoreline designation for the Shooters pier.