Please stay safe out there. These are trying times, but we will get through this - together! For now please enjoy this wonderful success story from our GIC partner, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC).
Building a Green Future for an Under-Utilized Park
WRWC is turning Providence’s Lincoln Lace & Braid site into a world-class recreational park with green infrastructure.
Since 1993, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) has sought to restore both the Woonasquatucket River and the neighborhoods it flows through in partnership with the community, especially Olneyville, once the industrial heart of the river valley. The initial vehicle for this restoration and transformation has been the Woonasquatucket River Greenway (Greenway), and while still at the center of their work, there is so much more to the Watershed Council. But for today, let us ponder the Greenway, and its brand new feature: The Woonasquatucket Adventure Park.
Biking and Running Trails at the Park
Photo courtesy WRWC
Phase I
The main flow of the Greenway is the bikeway along the east side of the river as it parallels Manton Avenue. But on the other side of the river, the old Lincoln Lace & Braid site and Merino Park, between the Sheridan Street footbridge and Glenbridge Avenue, the Greenway has taken a different path. Years after Merino Park was rehabilitated, the Lincoln Lace site was finally bought and rehabilitated with the help of the Trust for Public Land. The newest section of Greenway now runs south from Glenbridge Avenue to Merino Park.

The northern entrance of the Woonasquatucket Adventure Park is through the parking lot of the Turners Club, an athletic training facility. That parking lot was once a mess, sending silt laden runoff right into the river. Immediately to the south, the former Lincoln Lace site was essentially a capped brownfield that was mostly treeless. From the Merino Park end, a bridge crossing an old tail race stream takes you to the new Adventure Park. 
Photo courtesy WRWC
Donny Green, WRWC’s Red Shed & Bicycle Program Director is also a cyclocross rider and works with 1PVD Cycling. He began training on the capped brownfield section and bringing the youth he worked with there as well. One of the youth thought the site could be turned into a cyclocross course, people listened, and the process began. Brownfields are hard places to work, but when the Providence Parks Department, the Met School, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, 1PVD Cycle, and the Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) all thought the idea had merit and could be done, a consortium and strong partnership was formed. 
Phase I was funded by a grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Recreation Acquisition and Development, in the amount of $398,800. This was leveraged to raise an additional $350,000 from city, federal, and private donors. Phase I of the project included construction of a bicycle/skateboard pump track, a parkour course, a new parking lot, picnic area, lights, cameras, and landscaping, some of which is used to manage rainwater runoff. It is already a well used area and magnet for local children, but it needs better access from the neighborhood, better places to gather and amenities for younger children.
When Finished the Park Will Include:
  • 8.8 acre city-owned park in the Hartford neighborhood
  • Cyclocross & Pump Tracks
  • Parkour & Bike Skills Areas
  • River overlook
  • Rough-hewn black locust picnic tables & benches
  • Signature Greenway signage
  • Native Plantings
  • Neighborhood park entry at Barbara Street with shaded picnic areas & playgrounds
Photo courtesy The Trust for Public Land Staff
Phase II
Phase II was conceived based on community-identified needs. For example, a massive chain link fence and barbed wire gate block the Barbara Street entrance that was abandoned in 1980. Once inside the perimeter, the former parking lot is being overrun by invasive plants and trees, a retaining wall is crumbling, and the old factory loading dock remains. Phase II will complete a clean-up of the property and create safe and legal access from the neighborhood. The scope of work includes improved access at the Barbara Street entrance, removal of the derelict post-industrial infrastructure and installation of safe, fun, and inviting park amenities for the 6,000 neighborhood residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the park. Additionally, the site will be better suited for organized events and training.

New amenities include: new access and entrance points with gateway, trailhead and accessible pathway, additional biking and parkour features, gathering places, public art, grading and slope stabilization, green infrastructure, and storage/workshop space for bikes. Phase II will be funded through a National Park Service Land and Water Conservation grant and City of Providence Capital Improvement Project Fund. The entire site is being designed to be a Climate Smart Park, managing stormwater and flooding as well as reducing pavement to tamp down the heat island qualities the site once possessed. 
Photo courtesy WRWC
Similar to Phase I, Phase II is also a highly-collaborative project. Project partners for this phase include The Providence Parks Department, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, 1PVD Cycling, Smithfield BMX, The Shop, RI Parkour, and The Nature Conservancy. If awarded, funding would enable this park to be open to the public by December, 2020. The design has been completed with the full participation of neighborhood youth and the engineering and permits are all in place.
Many of the practitioners of green stormwater management have learned how to capture runoff effectively and create spots of beauty to do it. But to capture runoff in such a difficult site, and in a way that brings ACTIVE recreation to a neighborhood that needs these amenities, is a testament to the willingness of the community and state leaders to listen to the youth, collaborate, and innovate. May we all bring joy to our communities as we absorb the rains back into the Earth. 
Discover how you can support WRWC’s mission to restore and preserve the nationally recognized Woonasquatucket River Watershed as an environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset of Rhode Island.
Support WRWC
WRWC is a member of the Green Infrastructure Coalition. To have your member business featured, contact us.
Photos courtesy WRWC
The Statewide RI GIC provides communication resources, trainings on maintenance of green infrastructure installations, and shared knowledge on successful sites and green infrastructure installations around the state.
Nature At Work is a newsletter designed and distributed by the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition to bring more green space news to our cities and encourage the use of nature to clean, protect, and cool our neighborhoods.  Because of climate change, we are seeing increased heat impacts in our city, especially where there are fewer trees, as well as issues with flooding and polluted runoff in our neighborhoods.

The Green Infrastructure Coalition is a collaborative of more than 40 non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies focused on using nature to reduce stormwater pollution. We develop projects to demonstrate the powerful role nature can play to create healthier urban environments. We promote policies to create sustainable funding for stormwater management and green infrastructure solutions. And we connect a wide range of partners to share lessons learned in the Providence Metro area and Aquidneck Island.

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