DEM awards Andy’s Way project $47k

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 9:45am

Block Island has been awarded a $47,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to improve beach access and parking at Andy’s Way.

The funding was part of a $5.7 million package designed to “support healthy communities and promoting outdoor recreation when the state economy begins to reopen,” according to a press release issued by the DEM.

“As I announced this week, I am prioritizing reopening state parks, beaches and recreation areas in the first phase of getting back to a new normal,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “The COVID-19 crisis has shown how critical the outdoors, exercise, sunshine, and fresh are for people’s well-being.” The grants are funded through 2018 Green Economy and Clean Water Bond proceeds, according to the release.

“We’re very excited about that project,” said Town Finance Director Amy Land.

When asked how the funds are disbursed, Land said, “DEM Recreation grants are generally reimbursement grants where we spend and they reimburse either along the way or at the end.”

Sven Risom, Chair of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond , said the project was borne out of work done by the Beach Access Working Group about four or five years ago. That committee, which Risom was also on, was charged with visiting and analyzing the conditions of the many public beach access points on the island.

The committee decided that upgrading Andy’s Way was a priority. The town applied to the DEM for the grant, which was awarded on April 24. Risom said that town Highways Supervisor Mike Shea also spearheaded the project.

The $47,000 in grant money will also be matched by a $15,000 fundraising effort by the Committee for the Great Salt Pond in honor of the late Jan Emsbo, a resident who cherished the island’s natural beauty, Risom said. The project most likely will be completed in the fall.