Editorial: The lonely park in Barrington

Posted 2/28/19

Barrington is spending nearly $140,000 to fix a problem that almost nobody considered a problem. It will soon be using all that money to install a splash pad and move a sculpture at Police Cove …

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Editorial: The lonely park in Barrington

Posted

Barrington is spending nearly $140,000 to fix a problem that almost nobody considered a problem. It will soon be using all that money to install a splash pad and move a sculpture at Police Cove Park.

The town is hoping the new enhancement brings more people to the park. Yet it’s reasonable to ask why lack of activity at Police Cove is anywhere on the list of 50 highest priorities for the Town of Barrington.

The town has already made major improvements to the area. Stuck with an old, decrepit police station that had to be torn down, it used town and state monies to remove the building, improve a boat ramp, open a convenient link for the entire Mathewson area to reach the neighboring East Bay Bike Path, and create an easy park-and-ride beside an enhanced bus stop. If the park is underutilized, so be it. Does anyone really care?

It seems the town did, because it applied for a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management grant to make these improvements. So did towns around Rhode Island. Consider the list of other recreation projects funded by the DEM grant program last May:

• Coventry: walking trails and kayak access points

• Cumberland: multi-purpose field and sensory arena

• East Greenwich: outdoor fitness equipment

• Newport: restrooms, drinking fountains and bike racks

• Providence: outdoor fitness equipment and fitness challenge area

Every one of these projects seems like a great match for the Barrington community today. Can you picture hundreds of Barrington residents using outdoor fitness equipment at the town beach, or at Haines Park? What about a new multi-purpose field (it’s not like the town could use that)? More bike racks throughout town? Additional kayak storage and launching areas?

Any of these projects would be a great fit for a community that values fitness and outdoor recreation at every age, from teen to senior.

Instead, Barrington is building a mini splash park in the oddest location anyone could imagine. It’s difficult to envision many parents driving their young children across town and stripping them down to their bathing suits, so they can run through a sprinkler located a few feet from the busiest road in the region, adjacent to a RIPTA bus stop, directly underneath a massive line of electrical wires.

When the money is spent and the coffers are empty, Barrington will have a better park. But if still nobody uses it, will it dream up more enhancements? Or will it consider more practical ways to improve life for the vast majority of Barrington residents who might benefit in other areas? For a town so financially strapped it must impose an exhorbitant special use tax on its sports-playing families, this seems like an odd waste of money.

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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.