Government

Green Bond Receives Boost in New Statehouse Budget

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Rhode Island’s latest green bond received $4 million for parks on former I-195 land in Providence. (I-195 Redevelopment District Commission)

Environmental initiatives received some attention in Rhode Island’s pared-down fiscal 2021 state budget.

The Beach, Clean Water & Green Economy Bond touted by the environmental community and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) was increased by $5 million to $74 million.

Among the Providence items: $4 million for park infrastructure on the former Interstate 195 land; $6 million for Providence River dredging; and $2 million for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway. The 7-mile network of parks and paths stretches from Providence Place and follows the Woonasquatucket River to Lyman Mill Pond in North Providence.

State beaches, parks, and campgrounds received $33 million, or about $7 million less than what DEM requested. The agency didn’t receive the money it sought for six new park jobs. Park improvements may include a new facility at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick. There’s also funding for recreational facility improvements and upgraded facilities, such as new bathrooms, at Roger W. Wheeler State Beach (Narragansett), Scarborough State Beach (Narragansett), Misquamicut State Beach (Westerly), and Brenton Point State Park (Newport). State campground improvements include new bathrooms and utility upgrades.

Farm and forest protection programs received $3 million.

Stripped from the budget was a request by Save The Bay for the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund (OSCAR). The program would be funded through an additional 5-cent fee on each barrel of petroleum imported to the state by ship. The money, about $2 million annually, would provide grants to cities and towns for climate-crisis resiliency projects, such as improving coastal habitats and green infrastructure. Save The Bay believes prospects for OSCAR are promising in the General Assembly session that is expected to begin in January.

The green bond (Question 2) will be put before voters with six other referendums in a special election scheduled for March 2.

The General Assembly and governor must first approve the spending. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the budget Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. If approved, the budget moves to the Senate and then the governor.

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  1. sad that the Governor did not include expanding bicycle infrastructure in the Green Bond proposal as had been in previous such bonds. This despite the growing interest in bikes in response to the pandemic and the increased need for cities to find ways to compete with sprawvilles that degrade the countryside and drain population, businesses, and resources from our core cities. For example, after 30 years, the Blackstone Bikeway has still not gotten to central Pawtucket, Central Falls, or Woonsocket where many do not have access to cars, and the bikeway could also help market tourism for Blackstone Valley’s National Park as it could connect key sites such as Slater Mill, the Museum of Work and Culture, the Kelly House… A bike is also the nearest thing to a "zero-emission" vehicle. But the Raimondo administration seems unsupportive of bicycling

  2. Thanks Tim for this important reporting. Seems that the state, and legislature, are missing out on making Rhode Island’s citizens resilient: walking paths, bike trails, walkable communities, greater spending on open space, parks and staff all are needed and necessary if Rhode Island is going to get out of this economic and health crisis.

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