Town of Middletown, RI

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Town Hall Announces Grant Award June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014

From the Office of the Town Administrator:

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Department of the Interior announced Monday that the Sachuest Coastal Resiliency Project was awarded a $2.3 million grant as part of the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant program. The funds from this grant award, along with matching funds or in-kind services from the Town of Middletown and its local partners, will be used to improve biodiversity restoration and green infrastructure enhancements in the Second and Third Beach areas in Middletown.  

This partnership includes the Town of Middletown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Scenic Aquidneck Coalition, Norman Bird Sanctuary, The Nature Conservancy, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the Center for Ecosystem Restoration, who collaboratively submitted the grant proposal that led to the federal funding award. The Scenic Aquidneck Coalition is a unique collaboration between the Aquidneck Land Trust, Preserve Rhode Island, The Preservation Society of Newport County, The Townscape Institute, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. “The real story here is the partnership,” said Shawn J. Brown, Middletown Town Administrator. “Everyone on Aquidneck Island benefits when the various partners come together and collaborate on a grant proposal that will have a positive ecological and economic impact on the region.”

The Sachuest Bay Coastal Resiliency Project will seek to improve water quality and ecological assets through a series of projects that include assessing the Maidford River watershed; reinforcing barrier beach shoreline; improving Maidford River culverts; elevating roadbeds to address sea level rise; and restoring wetland and habitat for fish and wildlife. It is expected that the grant-funded projects will be completed in two years.

 “Improving Sachuest’s resiliency is important to the community because of the exceptional concentration of natural and cultural resources, recreational uses, and economic assets located in this vulnerable coastal area,” said Scenic Aquidneck Coalition spokesperson Kaity Ryan of the Preservation Society of Newport County. Severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy and winter storm Nemo increase the risk of damage from high winds and flooding. When Sandy hit in October 2012, Sachuest Point Road and the adjacent dunes and plant material were damaged by tidal surges. High winds knocked out utility poles and lines. The roadway was destroyed, resulting in the Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge remaining inaccessible for over six months. Repairs to Sachuest Point Road cost $868,000.

The Scenic Aquidneck Coalition will be leading one of the more visible projects: the utility undergrounding along Hanging Rock/Sachuest Point Road and Third Beach Road. This effort will highlight one of Aquidneck Island’s most scenic vistas while providing a safer, more scenic place for the numerous cyclists, beach-goers, surfers, birdwatchers, and others that visit Second Beach, the Norman Bird Sanctuary, USFWS Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, St. George’s School, Purgatory Chasm, and other nearby sites.