May 19, 2020

Reed, Whitehouse, Cicilline Announce $300,000 Economic Development Grant to Study Future Growth on Aquidneck Island

NEWPORT, RI – In an effort to promote smart, sustainable economic development and ensure public input in how former U.S. Navy-owned land and infrastructure is used by the three municipalities that make up Aquidneck Island, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Congressman David Cicilline today announced a new $300,000 federal grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The federal funding will be used for a study to evaluate options for a possible transfer of U.S. Government infrastructure to the municipalities of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. 

Reed, Whitehouse, and Cicilline announced the federal funds will be used to develop a plan to ensure the land and assets are utilized in a way that benefits the economy, environment, and overall quality of life throughout Aquidneck Island.

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) is acting as the lead agency in the study, in concert with Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth.  The $300,000 federal EDA Adjustment Assistance grant will be matched by $300,000 from RIIB for a total project sum of $600,000. 

“This is an incredible area and a great opportunity for the community to come together to help shape the future of Aquidneck Island.  This new EDA grant is a smart investment in strategic planning and collaborative development,” said Senator Reed.

“This study will identify opportunities to reimagine some Navy-owned properties for economic development and other public benefits,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “I look forward to seeing the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank’s findings, which will help guide Aquidneck Island’s economy for years to come.”

“I’m pleased to announce this important grant funding that will help to grow jobs in our state,” said Congressman Cicilline. “The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank’s study will be an important step forward in strategically expanding economic growth on Aquidneck Island.”

Reed, Whitehouse, and Cicilline wrote a joint letter to EDA in support of the federal grant for RIIB, noting: “The western edge of Aquidneck Island houses Naval Station Newport, which is undergoing a Base Realignment Closure program divesture of assets, including Navy-owned roadways, waterlines, sewer lines, and accompanying equipment.”

The letter notes that the study would include an inventory and condition assessment of approximately 18,000 linear feet of roadways, 65,000 linear feet of water lines and accompanying equipment, and approximately 28,000 linear feet of sewer-lines and accompanying pump stations.  This inventory and evaluation would allow for the identification of potential options for the transfer of Navy-owned infrastructure, as well as possible future public and commercial re-use.

“This study would enable the municipalities to recognize potential benefits of streamlining public services, increasing economic development opportunities, and improving public transportation.  It could ultimately support future economic investments and job creation for all of Aquidneck Island,” the members wrote. 

In summary, the project will:

– Generate inventory of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program assets divestiture;

– Focus on Navy-owned roadways, waterlines, sewer lines, and accompanying equipment;

– Explore the potential benefit of streamlining public services, increasing private land development opportunities, and improving public transportation;

– Provide detailed physical evaluation of current infrastructure conditions;

– Perform field work to confirm evaluations;

– Present options for transfer of Navy-owned infrastructure; and

– Determine potential to attract future investments, create jobs, and foster economic resilience for the region.



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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921