Warwick, R.I. — The recently formed Friends of Salter Grove (FoSG) are seeing quick results after meeting with Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick) at the site’s causeway last month as the DEM seeks funding for a plan to raise the structure, eliminating a high-tide drowning risk for fishermen.
Last month, members of the FoSG met with McNamara at the causeway in Salter Grove Park, a city park with some aspects managed by the RI DEM, said FoSG member Jason Major. The causeway, about half a mile long, was built in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers and provides a walking surface for hikers and fishermen to the breakwater running along upper Narragansett Bay/Providence River that connects Rock Island at the south with Marsh Island to the north.
Damage from a series of storms, particularly Super Storm Sandy in 2010, damaged a bridge across a gap in the eastern end of the causeway leading from the parking area to the breakwater. All that’s left of the bridge is a rusty frame, Major said. He posted a video of the area at low tide to Facebook in February.
A careful hiker can navigate the gap at low tide, but at high tide a person would have to wade or swim back through.
McNamara said after the February meeting where he saw the ruined bridge, he spoke with DEM Director Janet Coit, and, “Expressed a need to get it repaired in some way before the fishing season starts.”
Both McNamara and Major said the park is the first landing south of Providence with access to the bay and parking, which makes it a popular site for hiking and fishing, and the blocked access presents a drowning risk if someone is caught on the wrong end at high tide.
McNamara said Lisa Primiano, Chief of the Division of Planning and Development at DEM, is working to secure funding for a plan to raise the height of the causeway above the high tide line, eliminating the drowning risk. “So things are moving along as quickly as they can with an environmental project,” McNamara said.
Major who lives along Narragansett Parkway in the Gaspee Plateau area, said FoSG formed in February with the intent to marshall city and public support and grant funding to update Salter Grove Park as a whole. The active membership includes neighbors Peter Becker, Marina Wong, Mary Grady, Matt Dickinson, and Major.
Major said they hope to improve all four sections of the park: the shorefront, the breakwater, including the causeway, an aging playground and a wooded area.
The playground needs new equipment before he would be comfortable sending kids there to play, said Major, who does not have children of his own. “It’s just a sad little rusty swing set with a tube sled,” he said.
The rest of the park needs updates, including trash barrels for litter and fishing waste, changes that would make the park seem more lived in. “There’s a lot of a perception of the park as being a shady hangout spot,” Major said.
So, that will be their next goal once the causeway is made safe again. Major said they’re looking into available programs at the DEM and Fish and Wildlife Service. “There are grants available,” Major said.
Readers may follow Friends of Salter’s Grove on the FoSG Facebook page.