“Who has anything like this?” asked Keith Stokes, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), as he walked through the active construction projects at Fort Adams State Park on Wednesday morning.
Stokes said that although Newport has lacked the infrastructure to attract maritime activities in the past, the projects will not only make Newport a competitive venue, but with its history, charm and sailing conditions, Newport will rise into a league of its own.
“It’s Newport," he said. "It’s a place people want to be."
In November 2010, the RIEDC posted a request for proposal to hire an engineering firm to develop plans for a two-phase project including land and marine upgrades at the park.
A $662,000 contract for land-based improvements was awarded to the Lucena Brothers, a contractor based in Woonsocket, RI. A $400,000 contract for the marine improvements was awarded to Reagan Construction, based in Newport.
Stokes said when he was growing up, Newport had three working shipyards, but for a long time, Newport has not had the infrastructure to attract maritime trade or events.
The RIEDC says that the improvements will not only prepare Newport for the America’s Cup events this summer, but that they'll also create a world-class sailing venue to help promote Rhode Island nationally and internationally for years into the future.
According to the RIEDC, there are three phases to the improvement project. The first phase of improvements was finished in 2011 and included the paving of the main parking lot and removal of the traffic islands.
The RIEDC says that land improvements, including upgrades to the electric, water and lighting systems in the sailing center, are 75 percent complete, on schedule to be completed by May 1. There are 8-12 workers on site each day.
The water side improvements are in progress and targeted to complete at the same time. These improvements include a build-out of additional pylons and floating docks. Currently there are 6-10 people working on these upgrades daily.
The third phase of the improvements is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2012. This will include the development of a 400 ft. wave attenuator. The wave attenuator and associated dock will provide a sheltered harbor for boats and the shoreline, larger boats will have the opportunity to moor and it will protect the other docks at Fort Adams State Park.
The Department of Environmental Management plans to post a request for proposal at the end of summer 2012 for a $1.5 million contract.
Improvements inside the fort are a separate project, managed by the Fort Adams Trust. This $1.5 million initiative will secure the interior areas of the fort surrounding the 6.5 acre Parade.
“It’s a natural amphitheater,” said Stokes as he toured the progress inside the fort. “It’s the country’s oldest and most intact structures.”
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