DEM looking for new Colt Park offices, wants public input

By Scott Pickering
Posted 10/9/19

The State of Rhode Island has a plan to improve Colt Park and it wants input from citizens and the town of Bristol. The main focus is the office and park headquarters for the Department of …

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DEM looking for new Colt Park offices, wants public input

Posted

The State of Rhode Island has a plan to improve Colt Park and it wants input from citizens and the town of Bristol. The main focus is the office and park headquarters for the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), which is housed in an historic barn located deep inside the 464-acre park.

The plan is to construct a new facility, closer to the actual park entrance, to house DEM offices and maintenance equipment. What happens with the grand Colt barn, built in the early 20th century by Samuel Pomeroy Colt to house his prized herd of award-winning Jersey cows, remains to be seen.

Sasha Azbel of the firm Kite Architects is working on the “new” — what to build for the DEM and where — but she believes the historic barn could serve a higher purpose in the future.

“It’s not what a beautiful, historic barn should be used for,” she said, though her firm will not be working on that part of the project. For now, the focus is what to build near the entrance.

Mr. Azbel said they envision a single building and outdoor storage area (for landscaping equipment) located near the park entrance off Asylum Road. She said there should be a way to site the new facility in an open field, without impacting too much vegetation or mature trees.

The public is invited to an informational workshop Thursday night, Oct. 10, at 5 p.m. in the conference room at the Bristol Community Center, 101 Asylum Road. Kite Architects will have a presentation about the project and will be soliciting feedback.

In its heyday, the Colt barn was a showpiece of wealth and attention to detail. According to local histories: “There was one employee for each cow. The cows horns were polished and their tails were washed daily. When in their stanchions, the cows always had a thick bed of fresh straw. Cork and rubber covered the concrete floor where the cows stood. The spotless, comfortable barn was even heated in the winter.”

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