A plan is in place for Barrington's newest park


The empty and unsightly space on the north side of County Road near the Barrington Bridge will soon have a new, updated look. Construction on the Barrington River Park at Police Cove is scheduled to begin this fall.

It has been more than 10 years since the former Barrington Police station was demolished on the site. In 2002 at the financial town meeting, residents voted to designate the property to be developed as a park.

After the 2002 FTM, and the subsequent demolition of the police station building, the area served as a construction staging area for the bridge contractor until Barrington Bridge was completed in 2011.

With the bridge project winding down, in March 2010, the town hosted a public design workshop, in coordination with the Roger Williams University School of Architecture. About 20 Barrington residents attended the workshop to express their ideas for the park.

In Jan. 2011, the Barrington Town Council formed the Police Cove Park Committee — made up of residents and committee members from various town boards and commissions.

The committee began meeting in May of that year and discussing options to redesign the park, working with Vanasse, Hangen and Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) a planning and engineering firm out of Providence.

One of the ideas the committee considered was the "Power of 10" concept — the idea that you need 10 things to do in a park to create a successful public space. They decided that the park should be a gateway in to town, attracting people from the East Bay Bike Path, the Barrington River, by car and bus traffic on Rt. 114 (County Road) and on foot.

The park, they determined, could be the home to art shows, festivals, live entertainment and more. The park will have electricity, water hook-ups and restroom facilities (portable and removable).

The idea is to attract people to the site with food vendors, although those exact plans are on hold until the park is complete.

The committee has worked closely with Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey who said the experience has been a positive one.

“Thanks to the significant contributions of the Police Cove Park Committee and public shaping the design over the past two years, this park has the potential to be a true destination park on the East Bay Bike Path. It’s certainly not as big as Independence Park at the end of the bike path in Bristol, but the park will have a lot to offer in a relatively compact area: an area for food trucks, public art, an open lawn, a waterfront plaza with benches, bike racks, and improved access to the water. I believe people of all ages will enjoy this public space by the water,” Mr. Hervey said.

Larry Trim, co-chairman of the Police Cove Park Committee, said the process of creating a new park was very inclusive.

“I was encouraged by the participation of the diverse Police Cove Park Committee membership, other interested commissions, as well as the willingness of other people to attend meetings and be heard,” Mr. Trim said.

“We received positive advice on everything from the design of the boat launch to ideas as to how to best encourage lunch trucks to take a chance on this location. The committee worked through vetting out the project scope, the budget and schedule, as well as creating an inclusive process for naming the park and selection of an artist to design and install public art at the park. We are excited about this new park and hope that our plans for its use come to fruition very soon.”

In April 2012, the town was awarded a $200,000 RIDEM grant, providing additional funding for Police Cove Park. Since then, VHB has been working on final plan details, including boat ramp reconstruction, permitting processing, and RIDOT review.

Art at the park

One area the committee took some time focusing on was to incorporate some artwork at the park. In March of this year, the committee reached out to a website — Call to Artists — where artists from across the country as well as Canada would respond and submit a proposal to have their artwork displayed.

More than 95 artists replied and in July five finalists made presentations to the committee. Wright Deter of Cranston was unanimously chosen to complete a “sailboat” sculpture on site.

In the past year, a contest to name the park was held and more than 30 ideas were submitted. The name, Barrington River Park at Police Cove was the winner.

Currently, the town is awaiting RIDOT comments and will finalize plans and put out to bid, with the goal of starting work on the boat ramp reconstruction late summer/early fall; hoping to finish park by summer 2014. The art sculpture will be installed once the park is completed, or nearly completed.

— By Joan D. Warren


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