Quonset Business Park is a bustling place. With more than 10,000 jobs – nearly half in manufacturing – 200 companies and one of the top 10 auto ports in North America, there’s a lot of activity here. Hundreds of trucks, cars, planes, trains and ships are making their way in, out and through the park at all times of the year. And there will likely be more coming, as additional tenants enter the park and our current companies continue to grow – all creating more jobs.
In addition to all that growth, however, we still have neighborhoods on both the northern and southern boundaries of the park. And although the Quonset Development Corporation was created by the General Assembly to develop and manage the Quonset Business Park, we also recognize that our host community of North Kingstown and these neighborhoods are vital partners in our success.
For that reason, we are committed to being good neighbors and over the years we have found creative ways to allow the businesses at the park to succeed, without disrupting the community. How? By placing several passive uses (no trucks, no lights, no noise, no emissions) in strategic spots to provide a buffer between the park and the neighborhoods.
One example of “buffering” is the Quonset Gateway District, which includes “light” uses such as retail, a hotel, day care facility, office space and the Seabee Military Museum and Park. The area not only provides a welcoming and attractive entrance, but also gradually eases visitors into the more industrial businesses that exist deeper within the park.
The QDC also has built two new Gateway Office buildings recently. This project, which will likely include additional office buildings, helps to ensure residents of the Newcomb Road neighborhood that there will not be an industrial facility across the street from them.
Another example of our buffering is the 2.3-mile Quonset Bike Path, which runs alongside a 7-foot high berm covering more than 6 acres on our Newcomb Road property line. Opened in 2009, the trail, financed by QDC and the state Department of Transportation, runs along the perimeter of the business park from Post Road to the pristine Calf Pasture Point Nature Preserve and waterfront. The berm is home to wildflowers and other pleasing, colorful native plants that add another 6 feet of height.
New solar energy projects, such as the Energy Development Partners project on Davisville Road, and the Bella Energy project located off Camp Avenue, also offer a quiet, minimal-use buffer to our neighbors. The QDC has planted hundreds of trees and shrubs around and throughout the park to help be a better neighbor. And starting last month, new recreational fields are being built on 22 acres in partnership with the town of North Kingstown and the state Department of Environmental Management – another passive use for the areas closest to Quonset’s neighbors.
We have also worked to incorporate public access into the park to let our neighbors, the community and other visitors know that the business park is an attractive and inviting place to be. The bike path, our public beaches and Calf Pasture Point represent an extraordinary opportunity along our property line for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy some of the most beautiful natural landscape of our state.
We recognize that the business park and its more than 200 tenant companies are crucial to economic development and job growth in North Kingstown and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, we are committed to going to great lengths to provide a buffer for our neighbors so they can continue to enjoy their homes in peace and quiet. We are glad that these “best practices,” which are part of our master plan, strike just the right balance between job growth and being a good neighbor.