The Town Council wants to add additional trails to the popular park on High Street and O'Neil Boulevard.
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MIDDLETOWN VALLEY IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AUGUST 3, 2021) – Upgrades are on the way for the Middletown Valley, just how much remains to be seen.
At a meeting earlier this week, the Town Council accepted an $80,000 trails grant from the state Department of Environmental Management and thanked staff for their work securing the money to improve the park on High Street and O’Neil Boulevard.
Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said in coming weeks, the Town would put out a bid for contractors to submit proposals to build as much trail possible on the southern third of the property for $100,000. Brown said the bid package would have an alternate option to price out the entire .6-mile loop, which is expected to cost more than $100,000.
From there, it would be up to the council to determine what course to take at a future meeting once all the bid proposals have been submitted.
“This is an excellent project for the Town, whatever option you decide on,” Brown said. “Whenever I go by the Valley, there are people using it and enjoying it. It’s an important project for our entire west side, the whole town really.”
Since Middletown Valley opened four years ago, it has evolved into a place of peace and beauty on the west side of Town.
At any time of day, people from across the community can been seen walking their dogs or simply soaking in nature and the scenic vistas along the 1.3-mile walking trail system.
Free parking for visitors is available in a gravel lot just south of the Aquidneck Centre shopping complex anchored by a Shaw’s grocery store.
The Town purchased the close to 50-acre site from the Kempenaar family in 2004 to save it from a rumored housing development. Contamination left over from when the property was used for farming adds costs and has complicated what the Town can do on the land.
“There’s a certain amount of base cost in the project just off the bat,” Brown said. “The property does have contamination from agricultural use.”
Under the current plan, up to a .6-mile walking trail would be added to the existing walking path. As part of that plan, the existing trails would meet up in two locations across from the Paul Avenue area.
A map sign board would be added near the intersection of High Street and Adelaide Avenue, where a new entrance to the Middletown Valley would be placed. No additional parking is being discussed.
According to the state requirements, the Town needs to provide a 20 percent match – or $20,000 – to accept the DEM trail grant.
From there, Brown said depending on the bids, it will be up to the council to decide what course to take. Brown said the Town does have existing open space bond money and/or capital funds to cover the extra work, if the council opts to go that route.
Long term, there has been talk of linking up the Valley to a town-wide trail system that could stretch to Middletown High, Gaudet Middle School, lower Aquidneck Avenue and beyond.
“We weren’t sure we were going to get the grant at all,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said. “Now, we have the grant, we have the ($80,000) and we have to decide how to proceed.”
“Open space and passive recreation is part of what makes Middletown great,” Brown said. “People are getting outside now more than just a couple years ago and having such opportunities helps make our town a great place to live, work and play.”