Creating a plan for Cranston's parks will position the city for grants as they become available. The expansion of our parks will also have direct health and economic benefits. Recent studies have shown that parks, while often perceived as a luxury and a drain on city finances, are in fact key economic generators (State of New York) with benefits that reach well beyond the residents that use them (Urban Land Institute).
Ward Four: Acquire land or easements to develop a trail network on the Cranston Historic Farm Route. By connecting city owned conservation land and Audubon Society land with Curran State Park near the right angle turn of Laten Knight Road, a several mile trail system can be built. This would allow establishment of a trail from Burlingame Road to Laten Knight Road to Seven Mile Road. The plan should include better signs and parking. Contact landowners to explore making the connection and contact the Pagliarini family about possible acquisition of 67 acre Hope Farm, perhaps in conjunction with the federal government’s National Resources Conservation Service.
Ward Four: Extend the Meshanticut Park walking path a quarter mile north along Meshanticut Brook to Angell’s Pond. The State of Rhode Island, the city and the Providence Water Supply Board own the entire western bank of the brook between the two ponds. The city, through the Western Hills Middle School property, also owns the southern shoreline of Angell’s Pond. The removal of 31 parking spaces would allow a tree lined trail along the brook. Fishing and boating access should be established on Angell’s Pond. First steps: Contact the school department and Providence Water Supply Board to explore their support for the project.
Ward Five: Improve Knightsville gazebo and park to include old DPW garage property. The vacated DPW property adjoining the gazebo was intended to expand the park, but it has not been incorporated into it. First step: Develop a design to incorporate the DPW lot into the existing park.
Ward Three: Calise Field: This recreational facility in a densely populated section of Cranston could be improved to serve more people. The city should devise a park redevelopment plan to better utilize the non-ball field section on the park’s southern end. Possible improvements include a trail along Print Works Pond, canoe and fishing access, community garden, improved pond views, reconfigured parking areas, possible shared parking with abutter RIARC. First steps: Talk with Cranston Print Works about the transfer of the pond shoreline adjacent to Calise Field to the city, discuss cooperation with RIARC and develop a draft plan.
Ward Four, Five & Six: Establish a bike path or walking trail along the Providence Water Supply Board easement that runs from Pontiac Avenue to Midway Road and beyond. First steps: Secure the water supply board endorsement of the concept and talk with the Wilders Companies about coordinating this project with their redesign of Garden City.
Ward Two & Six: Build Pontiac Spur bike path. This abandoned rail bed could potentially connect Wellington Avenue to Knight Street at the Warwick/Cranston line, creating a three mile path. First steps: Start the procedure to get the project placed on the RI Department of Transportation’s Transportation Improvement Program lists and investigate whether the path could be extended by way of the South Elmwood line to Bellefont Pond.
Ward One: Acquire Bellefont Pond property to create a park. The 14.8 acre property, which includes the entire shoreline of Bellefont Pond, is owned by BASF. Fishing, walking and picnicking would be possible around the pond. The park could also enable a walking path to connect Roger Williams Park to the Pawtuxet River and city owned land at the end of Park View Boulevard. The city once received a state open space grant to purchase the property, but used the money for the Cullion property. The city must be sure all contamination issues are resolved before it acquires the land. First steps: Formally notify BASF of the city’s interest in the property and wait for the company to complete contamination survey by end of 2012.
Ward One: Acquire trail easements and land to improve and protect the Pawtuxet River Trail. The three mile trail currently runs from Rhodes on the Pawtuxet to Warwick Avenue and then back to Pawtuxet Village on the Warwick side of the river. DEM has abandoned the Pawtuxet River Supply Depot on Warwick Avenue which is a key part of the trail. The city should acquire all or part of this property to insure trail access. The city should also explore acquiring an easement from Yardworks to extend the trail from Warwick Avenue to Mayflower Drive. At Mayflower Drive, a short walk along quiet residential streets would bring walkers to the Bellefont Pond property. The easement would require that the chain link fence surrounding the Yardworks property be set back 10-15 feet. First steps: Contact DEM regarding the abandoned depot and contact Yardworks concerning acquisition of an easement and fence relocation. RIDEM has small trail grants up to $3000 available which could help on this project.