RWU, Tiverton residents in novel partnership to spruce up Stone Bridge area

Council President Ed Roderick lauds collaborative plan to redesign Sone Bridge entranceway. Council President Ed Roderick lauds collaborative plan to redesign Sone Bridge entranceway.

Council President Ed Roderick lauds collaborative plan to redesign Sone Bridge entranceway.

Council President Ed Roderick lauds collaborative plan to redesign Sone Bridge entranceway.

TIVERTON — A partnership to be launched within the next two weeks or so, between Roger Williams University (RWU) students and faculty and the Town of Tiverton, will result in a facelift proposal for the entranceway area to Grinnell’s Beach and the Stone Bridge abutment.

The focal point for the redesign process, expected to be completed in July, is the newly acquired gas station property (a/k/a Seaside Gas) at the site.

Called “community visioning,” the collaboration will be spearheaded by a group of RWU students enrolled in a summer course entitled Community Engaged Design.

In various ways, the students will engage the community in “a structured visioning and option-exploration process,” and will use the input to create various scenarios for redevelopment of the gas station parcel, within both funding and regulatory restrictions.

The scenarios thus developed will then be brought to the public for feedback through a variety of methods including workshops, charrettes, online tools and more.

“Our waterfront is a precious thing and is for the enjoyment of all the people of Tiverton, which is why I believe our people should have a voice in how it will look,” said Tiverton Town Council President Edward A. Roderick. “Their input will set the tone for enhancing this area, not only for today but for future generations as well.”

The small gas station parcel was acquired by the town in February with approximately $400,000 in grant funds.

The questions since then have involved what to do with it — to level the building or develop it somehow, and how to integrate it with its surroundings.

The design project is part of RWU’s Community Partnerships Center (CPC) program.

With more than 100 such projects to its credit in the three years since the program began, the CPC offers specialized expertise to assist nonprofits and municipalities in solving challenges, while allowing students to gain real-world experience.

Shortly after it acquired the parcel, the town applied to the CPC, seeking help in creating a community-wide discussion on the options for reusing the structure or demolishing it in order to replace with open space or other public facilities.

The challenge will be to integrate the old gas station parcel with the existing town-owned Grinnell’s Beach and the historic Stone Bridge abutment, which is scheduled for rehabilitation in 2015.

RWU faculty member and CPC Director Arnold Robinson said the summer-session course, which runs from May to July, will push the students — a combination of architecture, historic preservation and community development majors — to bring knowledge gained in the classroom to a project with real-world implications.

“This course will challenge our students to apply what they have learned about design and sustainability, drawing and computer-modeling, how to work with clients and how to use academic knowledge to help the community to choose the path that best suits their shared vision for the site,” he said.

The process will welcome all ideas from the community, including options for all Town-owned properties in the area.

Mr. Roderick said that the direction selected for this property can set the tone for redevelopment in the entire Stone Bridge village area. “This will begin the process for a new focal point in our town and showcase our waterfront. This will only make our town more beautiful.”

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