Dr. Robert Quigley, a local chiropractor, had recognized that the three towns of Aquidneck Island share common goals and problems, and they should work united, in its planning and problem solving to bring a higher standard of living and economic growth to its residents. The doctor transformed that vision into a reality in 1985 when he founded the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC), a non-profit organization with a mission to help build consensus and planning across Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth borders, including Naval Station Newport.
Although Dr. Quigley passed away last September, the 170 people who attended the AIPC’s 25th anniversary dinner on Wednesday night at the Atlantic Beach Club demonstrated that his legacy would be faithfully honored and the work to bring together the towns of Aquidneck Island would continue.
“We have three beautiful municipalities,” said AIPC Executive Director Tina Dolen. “When they work together, we have a much richer quality of life.”
The AIPC recently completed the West Side Master plan, which presented a vibrant plan for 5,000 acres along the island’s west side that includes a mix of commercial, residential, and recreational development, including recommendations for traffic management, a high priority for Quigley.
Navy Surplus Land
One of the AIPC's latest endeavors is the planned reuse of Navy surplus lands on the island's west side; the commission has coordinated with the island communities and federal agencies to form the Aquidneck Island Reuse Planning Authority (AIRPA) to oversee the conveyance of 225 acres of former Navy parcels and overcome development hurdles that has left much of the land unused for the last 38 years.
Bob Silva, an attorney in Middletown, was the president of Middletown’s Town Council when the Navy scaled back operations on Aquidneck Island in 1973 and abandoned use of many of the parcels. Silva, who worked with Dr. Quigley, said this holding pattern was created primarily because of environmental contamination concerns and demonstrates the importance of the AIPC.
State Senator Dr. Christopher Ottiano from Portsmouth said the land can be used for recreational purposes, such as open space, water access and bike paths. Portsmouth has the largest section of the land within its borders.
Senator Ottiano referred to Quigley as an “outstanding gentleman” who was committed to the island’s traffic issues, the management for which many agree is key to community growth.
Excellence in Planning Fund
Also at Wednesday's dinner, the AIPC announced the formation of an annual “Excellence in Planning Fund” program, to be awarded to projects that reflect the commission’s mission and vision for Aquidneck Island.
The special fund also will be available directly to the AIPC to help continue support for sustainable planning projects.
Looking into the near future, Silva said he believes the AIPC should also be involved in municipal water treatment, sewage and storm water projects. All are pressing issues that cross town borders and do not have easy solutions, he said.
For more information or to provide a donation to the Excellence in Planning Funds, please contact the AIPC at 401.845.9299 or email@example.com
To read about the AIPC recognitions bestowed upon each of the Aquidneck Island communities, click here.