opinion Newport Rhode Island

The following was submitted by Beth Newman at Nanaquaketbridge.com.

According to the group, Nanaquaketbridge.com is a loosely formed group of residents, former residents, visitors and fisherfolk with generations-long history of fishing and accessing the water off Nanaquaket Bridge. As a decentralized group of volunteers they are best reached for comment at: media@nanaquaketbridge.com

Under pressure from community groups including Nanaquaketbridge.com and at the urging of Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), Rhode Island Department of Transportation will remove a barrier erected on Nanaquaket Road in Tiverton. The barrier, installed without permit in the fall of 2018, blocks a Public Right of Way to an inlet at the Quaket River that joins Nanaquaket Pond. 

At the end of last year the Coastal Resources Management Council issued RIDOT a cease and desist on work at the site and ordered the agency to restore it by January 2019. However, as of July 4, no work had begun to restore the site. A neighboring homeowner had arranged the blockade and further rankled the community by erecting a sign purportedly in memory of Nathaniel Church, a prominent historical figure whose historic home he had torn down to make way for the mansion and subdivision that now stands in its place, Tiverton Point, LLC.

The restoration of the site is planned to be completed by Labor Day. Bridge watchdog website, Nanaquaketbridge.com created by the community in the wake of the parking blockade, plans to continue efforts to support restoration and public access while educating the public on carry in/carry out litter policies and organizing seasonal cleanups.

The Public Right of Way is a strip of land just to the north and west of Nanaquaket Bridge. It was legally designated as a Public Right of Way in 1984 although it had been used as a public fishing spot with parking for generations prior to that time. The site consisted of a gravel lot and modest footpath to the water for hand launch of very small craft but is most popular for its fishing, attracting residents and visitors alike for recreational fishing from the bridge.