The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) recently announced the 2018 grant recipients for its Outdoor Recreation Grant program funded from the voter approved Green Economy and Clean Water Bond.  Of the 40 statewide applications that were submitted to RIDEM, a total of 19 grants were awarded to 15 communities.

The City of Newport Public Services Department has announced that both of its applications were selected with a total value of $280,000.  The Newport projects funded are the renovation of the Vernon Park Tennis and Pickleball Courts with a Large Recreation grant of $180,000 and the installation of a restroom building at Miantonomi Memorial Park through a Small Recreation grant of $100,000. According to the RIDEM award letter both submissions were “exceptional” and the competition was very strong.

The Vernon Park project will replace 24-year-old tennis courts that are in disrepair and as such are underutilized.  The submission for this project cited the grant funding would be used to “increase use and broaden the age groups using the Vernon Park courts and to rebuild and reconfigure the facility to include a dedicated pickleball court and three courts designed for both junior tennis and full regulation tennis.  The city’s Recreation Division has received USTA grant funding to expand the junior tennis program.”

The Miantonomi Park Restroom project was identified in the Newport Open Space Master Plan as essential to providing additional programming and park related services to Newport’s north end.  A key element of the plan is providing an “equitable system” where citizens have equal access to recreation services. Although Miantonomi Park is the primary park for the north end of Newport, where 65% of the city’s children live, it has not had a functional restroom since the 1980’s. The lack of restrooms has greatly limited the Newport Recreation Division’s ability to use the park for programming and children’s camps.

“Receiving these two grants will help make two significant park areas more accessible and usable for the residents of Newport,” said Scott Wheeler, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor.  “During the planning process for the Newport Open Space Master Plan, we heard from the community how much they value and want better parks and open spaces to enjoy and use. Updating and repairing these spaces helps enhance our community for everyone.  We are grateful to RIDEM for the award and eager to get started on the improvements.”

Ryan Belmore is the 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.