PAWTUCKET â€” Thanks to a mix of state and federal grant funding, the city is hoping to usher in a new era of recreational facilities designed to please everyone from high school athletes and fishing enthusiasts to a new type of â€śgolfer.â€ť
At its meeting on Wednesday, the City Council voted 8-0 to approve an application seeking almost $1 million in recreation grants from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) for the five projects. The vote gives the go-ahead for the cityâ€™s Planning Department to apply for grant money from RIDEM that will fund between 50 and 90 percent of the project costs.
A key project involves obtaining $400,000 in grant money for the installation of artificial turf at the Max Read Field, which is used as the home athletic field by Shea High School and other local sports teams and organizations. The field project is also in line to receive another $400,000 in matching Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money.
Planning Director Barney Heath said that the Max Read Field improvements have been talked about for several years and were part of an action item listed in the city's 2011 Comprehensive Plan Update. An additional $200,000 is needed to complete the field, but city officials have said they would explore other funding sources to pay this balance.
A second major project involves a significant redevelopment of the State Pier, located off School Street on the Seekonk River. The $400,000 being sought for improvements to the popular fishing spot would be added to several other federal funding sources that have been earmarked.
Health said the State Pier proposal includes a complete revamping of the â€śplaza area,â€ť where people can go to fish or just view the water, and the construction of a new boat ramp designed to accommodate boat trailers, plus other amenities.
On another recreational note, the funding requests include $20,000 for the development of a â€śdisc golf courseâ€ť in Slater Park. Heath said that â€śdisc golfâ€ť is a flying disc game in which individual players throw a Frisbee-like object at a target. He said the course would be set up along one of the unused trails in Slater Park.
Heath said that the sport has been gaining in popularity in different parts of the U.S., and a similar course exists in Charlestown, R.I.
According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, the object of disc golf is to â€śtraverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc.â€ť The website showed a photo of a player throwing a disc into a metal basket-like structure topped with a numbered flag.
It was also stated that the number of disc golf courses doubled in the eight years from 2000 to 2008, and the game is played in about 40 countries around the world.
Also among the requests for the DEM funding are proposals for $100,000 for construction of a new pavilion and offices within Slater Park and $50,000 for the renovation of bathroom facilities at Veterans Memorial Park.