Finishing touches complete Bristol’s town sports complex

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It’s been a project that’s spanned two town councils and three administrations, but residents finally have a completed sports complex they can use.

The final phase, a $400,000 rehab of the basketball and tennis courts and a street hockey rink were completed last week, adding to the complex of baseball and soccer fields, as well as a skate park and beach volleyball court

“It’s been a long process. It’s so beautiful the way it turned out,” said Parks and Recreation Director Walter Burke.

The project was funded through a $200,000 Open Space and Recreation Grant obtained through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and $200,000 of taxpayers’ money. The town approved the expenditure in 2012 under former Town Administrator Diane Mederos and former Town Council Chairman Ken Marshall.

The addition of the courts and rink, said Mr. Burke, is the “next to final phase” of a 15-year master plan for the town sports complex. The new courts and rink replace the single courts that were there, but unusable due to their condition. The new design also reconfigured the placement of the playing areas to allow unobstructed views for a safer environment.

“It’s really a whole package,” Mr. Burke said of the sports complex and town beach. “I really see the results of putting the money into the lifestyle of the community.”

With the town’s acquisition of Quinta-Gamelin Community Center, Bristol residents are now enjoying the space for meetings and programs, such as yoga, with more opportunities for use and expansion ever present.

And while the town beach has received accolades from the state Department of Environmental Management for its water quality — thanks to the inclusion of a green infrastructure with runoff filtered through vegetation, before entering Narragansett Bay — Mr. Burke is looking for grants that will enable the town to replace the beach sand that is currently being sifted to remove any debris.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.