Public Health & Recreation

Proposed Fence on Pawtuxet River Trail Enrages Residents, Advocates


A no trespassing sign defaced by paint on the trail. (Rob Smith/ecoRI News)

WARWICK, R.I. — Advocates and neighbors are opposing a new proposal by a property owner to fence off the Pawtuxet River Trail.

The trail, which runs from its entrance on 175 Post Road west along the river until it reaches a grocery store on Warwick Avenue, sits on private property owned by local businessmen Lee Beausoleil and Artak Avagyan. Beausoleil and Avagyan have clashed with nearby residents and groups such as Pawtuxet Green Revival in recent years over their application to build a storage facility, which they withdrew last May.

The two submitted a freshwater wetlands permit with the state Department of Environmental Management in November to install a chain-link security fence around the property’s perimeter. DEM’s Office of Water Resources awarded Beausoleil and Avagyan the permit on April 4.

Members of Pawtuxet Green Revival (PGR), a community group based out of nearby Pawtuxet Village, voiced their opposition to the proposed fence last week, arguing its construction would disturb wetlands adjacent to Post Road, prevent historical migration of wildlife such as deer, turkeys, rabbits, and turtles, and block off a large portion of the Pawtuxet River Trail on the south side of the river.

“In our opinion it is clearly spite,” wrote the group in a press release. “DEM’s decision to let them enclose the entire wetlands and green space is nonsensical and antithetical to their mission.”

It’s far from the first time PGR has clashed with Beausoleil and Avagyan. The group staunchly opposed their proposal to build a storage facility, alleging mistrust on the part of the owners to keep the brownfield that lies beneath the 175 Post Road property intact.

The storage facility was ultimately aborted; at a Planning Board meeting in February 2023, the board chose to recommend a compromise, allow the project to proceed, but place a conservation easement on the trail. For Beausoleil and Avagyan, it was a deal-breaker, and they withdrew the project that spring.

Not long after they withdrew the project, residents told ecoRI News a bridge along the footpath on the river trail had been removed, and a new barricade erected to deter members of the public from using the trail.

PGR claims the trail has been used by members of the public for more than 60 years, according to aerial photos. Leaders of the group say they met with Mayor Frank Picozzi earlier in April to protest the fence’s construction.

As of this writing, the city has not issued its own permit for the new fence.

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