SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – Voters in South Kingstown will have a say on $6.5 million in bonds for several large-ticket items when they head to the polls on Nov. 3.
The bonds will provide funding for the town to address road paving and safety projects, including bicycle and pedestrian safety; improvement of the town’s police, emergency medical and firefighter communication systems and upgrades to the town’s recreation facilities.
The largest part of the bond would allocate $3.5 million to road improvements, and most of the funds in this category will be used for Phase 2 of the town’s infrastructure project to construct and maintain an additional 350-foot seawall along Matunuck Beach Road.
The purpose of the seawall is to protect Matunuck Beach Road from ongoing shoreline erosion. The project is “shovel ready” with all regulatory permits acquired by the town. Construction could begin during the winter, but would likely not be completed until fall 2021 since no construction can occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day because of the summer tourist season.
Next, $2.2 million will pay for the town to create a single town-wide radio system for police and emergency medical services departments and the volunteer Union Fire and Kingston Fire districts. The public services operations, such as public works, will also be able to use the same system.
The existing 800 megahertz radio network infrastructure provides inadequate reception and transmission signals in certain areas of town, creating what officials say is a public safety concern. The planned 400 megahertz network has shown better reliability and signal penetration into buildings throughout town.
The estimated cost of the multi-site simulcast system is approximately $2.8 million, with the town responsible for 80% of the total project. The two independent taxing authority fire districts will be responsible for the remaining 20%.
Construction would begin in January and last a year. The system is projected to have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
Additional community-wide traffic signage and bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements would account for $350,000 of the bond. The town would commission a traffic calming study during the winter as well. That study would inform how signage and possible physical improvements would be constructed, based upon funding availability.
Depending on what’s implemented, the improvements could have five to 20 years of useful life.
Old Mountain Field, South Kingstown’s oldest public park, would receive a boost with $300,000 in improvements, including a new restroom and concession building.
The existing restroom, concession and storage facilities are beyond their useful lives and are inadequate for the volume of activity that occurs at the park on a regular basis, according to officials.
Old Mountain Field was deeded to the town by the Hazard Family in 1938. It remains one of the town’s most active recreational facilities, featuring lighted baseball and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, skateboard park, picnic area and nature trails.
Construction would take place in fall 2021.
Finally, the bond would allocate $75,000 each toward projects at Marina Park and the town beach.
The Marina Park project entails the complete rehabilitation of the public boat ramp. The existing ramp surface requires complete reconstruction due to its poor condition, at a total estimated cost of $260,000, according to the town.
The $75,000 bond funding would provide the balance necessary to move forward with the ramp replacement in the next fiscal year. Work would take place in October 2021.
The town beach would receive $75,000 for ongoing maintenance and mitigation efforts to address the impact of erosion at the beach in Matunuck.
The funding will support the Beach Improvement Plan and would accelerate pavilion and structural repairs, sand replenishment and repair and replacement of playground equipment.
Sand replenishment would take place next May, with pavilion work taking place in September and October and the playground equipment being replaced in 2022.