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.”