Page 5 - 2017 Preservation Society Summer Gazette
P. 5

This landscape evokes the unique scenic character of this community
by Kaity Ryan, Preservation Policy Manager
As we enjoy the bright sunshine and sailboats of summertime on Aquidneck Island, we also celebrate another harbinger of summer that can, for the first time in over a century, be seen and enjoyed as it was when the likes of artists John Frederick Kensett and William Trost Richards drew inspiration from it: Sachuest in Middletown. With a national wildlife area, a private nature sanctuary, beloved town beaches and sweeping vistas, the Sachuest area - the heart of Paradise Valley - ranks as one of Rhode Island’s most scenic places. It is rich in cultural, natural, ecological, and economic value.
When the Preservation Society teamed up with the Aquidneck Land Trust, Preserve Rhode Island, and van Beuren Charitable Foundation in 2012 to envision ways in which we might collaborate to improve Aquidneck Island, we could not have imagined the success that the partnership would bring. Not only were we able to raise more than $1.2 million in funding to bury nearly two miles of power and communications lines and remove 22 utility poles along Sachuest Point Road; we were also able to forge critical relationships with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Town of Middletown, National Grid, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and St. George’s School. This collateral benefit will serve each of our organizations as we continue working – independently and collaboratively – to improve Aquidneck Island for residents and visitors alike.
On May 12, we welcomed U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the culmination of this five-year effort to increase coastal resiliency, enhance pedestrian safety, and improve the utility infrastructure of one of Rhode Island’s special places. Joining the Senators were the President and Chief Operating Officer of National Grid Rhode Island, Timothy Horan; Northeast Region Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Scott Kahan; Middletown Town Council President Robert Sylvia and his fellow Councilors; Mrs. John A. "Happy" van Beuren of the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, key contributors to the project; and dozens of community supporters. The celebration concluded with a ceremonial removal
of the last remaining utility pole, which was met with enthusiastic cheers and clapping from the audience.
Whether you know it as Second Beach or Sachuest or just your favorite place to take a walk, bike, or swim, this landscape evokes the unique scenic character of this community. It now also demonstrates the impact of collaboration. We invite you to visit it with fresh eyes.
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