King Park

Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has awarded 15 grants totaling over $14,000 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant
program, the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $250 to $2,000.

Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. A recent donation of $50,000 to the Merritt Neighborhood Fund from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation allowed ALT to offer more grants than in previous years.

“We are delighted to announce the recipients of this year’s awards and are excited to see the completed projects,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director. “A generous gift from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation allowed us to increase the number of awards given this year, and we will be able to sustain this higher level for several years. It is really a pleasure to support these projects as they will have a tremendous positive impact on thousands of Aquidneck Island residents and visitors.”

Awards were given to the following applicants:

  • Emmanuel Church and School: creation of raised garden beds ($500)
  • Daffodillian: purchase of daffodil bulbs ($1,000)
  • Friends of King Park: plantings for Rochambeau Wall Garden ($965)
  • God’s Garden: vegetable garden improvements ($1,837)
  • Norman Bird Sanctuary: installation/purchase of deer-proof fencing ($1,200)
  • Newport Tree Society: signage for Miantonomi Park ($2,000)
  • The Pennfield School: creation of pollinator garden ($700)
  • Portsmouth Middle School: creation of vegetable garden ($1,000), plus rain barrel
  • Portsmouth Dog Park: park improvements ($1,000)
  • Portsmouth Garden Club: improvements to Legion Park ($250)
  •  Prudence Conservancy/Farnham Farm: improvements to community garden
  •  Rogers High School/improvements to vegetable garden ($612)
  • Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation/purchase and installation of tree and plant
    tags ($500)
  • Town of Middletown/bench installation at Paradise Park ($1,200)
  • Town of Newport/Plug Park planting ($500)

Information on the 2018 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February, 2018.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.