Funding Secured to Underground Powerlines, Utilities at Second Beach
July 11, 2014
July 11, 2014
Preserve Rhode Island, The Preservation Society of Newport County and the Aquidneck Land Trust have secured more than $800,000 in federal funding to bury power and utility lines underground at Second Beach in Middletown, RI. News that the grant application was approved came from The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service today. The grant application was filed Monday after it was learned that the project had not been funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Funding will be made available for undergrounding the utilities from Second Beach in Middletown to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Funding will come from the disaster relief appropriation act and will assist in protecting the infrastructure from future storm impacts.
The effort to underground the utilities has been a long-term partnership led by the Scenic Aquidneck Coalition. The Scenic Aquidneck Coalition is a unique collaboration between the Aquidneck Land Trust, Preserve Rhode Island, The Preservation Society of Newport County, The Townscape Institute, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. The coalition has worked with local partners including the Town of Middletown, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and others to realize this project.
Relocating the utilities will have a wide variety of benefits. It will restore one of Aquidneck Island’s most scenic resources and provide a safer place for the numerous cyclists, beach-goers, surfers, birdwatchers, and others that visit Second Beach, the Norman Bird Sanctuary, USFWS Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, St. George’s School, Purgatory Chasm, and other nearby sites.
“Improving Sachuest’s resiliency is important to the community because of the exceptional concentration of natural and cultural resources, recreational uses, and economic assets located in this vulnerable coastal area,” said Scenic Aquidneck Coalition spokesperson Kaity Ryan of the Preservation Society of Newport County.
“The Sachuest Point area is one of Rhode Island’s most beloved and beautiful places,” said Preserve Rhode Island’s Executive Director, Valerie Talmage. “Removal of the utility line will enhance the landscape quality of this important heritage area for the appreciation of all.”
The undergrounding will help to reduce potential damage to the utilities from future storms. Severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy and winter storm Nemo caused significant damage to the lines, and made buildings such as the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center susceptible to further damage. High winds knocked out utility poles and lines.