Site improvements proposed for New Harbor Boat Basin

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 6:00pm

The Historic District Commission has approved preliminary plans to revamp traffic flow at the New Harbor Boat Basin. The commission also approved a preliminary application to fix up the market building at the site (Plat 5, Lot 69-1, 69-4 and 69- 5). The applications were reviewed and discussed by the Historic District Commission on Monday, Jan. 25.

Colin Kane, principal of Peregrine Group spoke on behalf of the applicant, Nekick Associates, and its goal to “make the Boat Basin – the area that has been owned by the Mott family for many centuries – a much better place to visit and live.” The lots listed on the preliminary applications, owned by Sky Blue Pink, LLC, contain: The Oar, the market building, the Narragansett Inn, the New Harbor Boat Basin, the Harbormaster’s office, and garage.

Architects Ashley Iannuccilli and Douglas Kallfelz, who provided an overview of the of the project, noted these proposed improvements to the site: possible stabilization and rehab of an existing barge; rehab of the existing market building; opportunity to build a “promenade” pedestrian way between The Oar restaurant, the market building and marina; a taxi pick up and drop off area; parking spaces; possible future rehab of an existing cottage; paths for pedestrians and bike use; an informational kiosk; possible future rehab of existing inn outbuildings; creation of a streetscape along West Side Road with plantings; and an opportunity to create vegetation and rain gardens around parking areas.

Kane added that the proposed plans to the site revolve around improving the overall safety of the site, the experience for the visitors, and to maintain environmental integrity within the area.

“What we are talking about here is landscape improvements, and aesthetic and functional improvements to the market building,” said Kane. “When we got control of it, there had to be about 20 abandoned cars and boats. It was a gritty experience when you experience the front gate to New Harbor and to the west side of the island. What we are hoping to do is to significantly improve the experience,” said Kane.” We consider the Great Salt Pond the most precious resource to guard.”

Regarding renovations with the market building, Kallfelz described “our goal with the [market] building is to leave the structure of the building in place” and address interior and exterior alterations to the building.

“Our goal was to bring in some new marine restrooms and showers that improve and replace the use of The Oar bathrooms and showers, and some new public restrooms,” said Kallfelz.

He added in his presentation the idea of relocating the harbormaster’s office on the site “to have a view of the marina and harbor.”

“When we took control of the site, we invited the Harbormaster [Kate McConville] back to the property… our longterm objective is to maintain the Harbormaster on the site,” added Kane. 

Chair Bill Penn asked “if there had been any thought of removing the barge” from the site.

“There are potential issues of environmental concerns, specifically the barge,” said Penn. The barge was used to bring over telephone poles for the power company and materials for the dock. It is a Rhode Island brownfield site because of its contamination.”

“We have met with Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. I think they are puzzled with what to do with the barge. It’s sunk, and it has become a riprap of the shoreline. If we don’t have a solution, it will be fenced and maintained for safety,” said Kane. “The barge itself may have some environmental issues but it doesn’t pose an immediate threat.”

The board members expressed their appreciation for the proposed site improvements and alterations on the application.

“This looks wonderful, and I love the safety of the taxis. This is a first great step,” said member Mark Vaillancourt.

“I find these improvements very much better,” said Penn.

“It looks fabulous, but I do think it is a tremendous improvement. I‘m very pleased in seeing something that looks cohesive and I look forward to seeing more,” said Vice Chair Martha Ball.

“I think they did a nice job of breaking up the building and by putting in different materials. It looks nicely done and in keeping with the materials on the island,” said member Kay McManus.

Two separate motions were made for the two preliminary applications: one motion by Penn to give preliminary approval of the application’s site improvement plan, adding the board would like to see a 3D model of the site improvements; and a motion by Ball to give preliminary approval for the renovations to the market building, with additional drawings and elevations to be included of the market building and informational kiosk. The two applications were approved 4-0, with members Arlene Tunney and Mike Ballard not present.