Spot Park 1st Mill Cove Conservancy land holding       

Warwick Beacon Online    

Thursday, April 12, 2007 



Things aren’t as quiet as they once were at the Mill Cove Conservancy in Warwick. Thanks to the donation of two lots of land overlooking the mouth of Buckeye Brook where it joins Narragansett Bay, Spot Park will make its debut this week as a new neighborhood park.



Once thought of as a land trust without the land, Mill Cove now has what it needs to show landowners a different way to use their land and, at the same time, gain a tax benefit.



The Mill Cove Conservancy (MCC) is a nonprofit organization that provides an alternative for landowners in the Mill Cove neighborhood who care for their property and want it preserved. While many developers buy land to build on, working with private land trusts such as MCC enables property owners to contribute land as a tax-deductible gift. In return, the private land trust preserves the land. The main goal is to save and maintain these spots while making them an asset to the surrounding community.



Spot Park is small, but it’s a great place to spend time,” says Thomas Wilson, MCC chairman and co-founder. The 11,525-square-foot park with a valuation of $50,000 serves as a connector to the Conimicut Marsh and Narragansett Bay. There is an approximate 250-degree view that overlooks the cove and marsh area and the land is elevated so parts of Prudence Island can be seen as well. There is a filled in foundation on the land, which Wilson believes was the site of a bungalow destroyed either by the Hurricane of 1938 or Hurricane Carol in 1954. There is low traffic into the area, which limits land pollution and allows neighbors and community members to enjoy all aspects of the park without the chaos of a crowd.



The park has several unique traits. It is on the shoreline of Buckeye Brook, one of Rhode Island’s three herring runs. It also borders a moving sandbar, also known as a spit. The change is noticeable and can even be detected in a single visit, says Wilson.



“It’s where you want to be,” said Wilson. Wilson helped found MCC in 2002 when its only purpose was to bring attention to the issues that needed to be addressed. In 2003 MCC became a land trust and gained the ability to take action.



“We wanted to help the problem rather than just fight for it,” Wilson said. “Mill Cove shows how it is possible to conserve land while following the proper regulations.”



Wilson said he has talked with the city about have an adjoining vacant city lot combined with the MCC parcels. The plan is to clean up the area, leaving it in its natural state and accessible.



Armand Lusi who purchased the land four years ago and donated it to MCC in December initially intended to build an aquaculture oyster farm. He thought the marshland in Buckeye Brook could foster his plans, but learned that the area was a sensitive environment and the efforts of developing were too great to pursue any further.



Lusi contacted Wilson last fall after visiting the property and learning about his role with MCC and their dedication to preserving Warwick.



“They seem to have a genuine concern and appreciation for the environment,” said Lusi.



Donating the land to MCC gave the conservancy its first opportunity to show what is possible when it comes to protecting the natural environment.



This Saturday, the Buckeye Brook Coalition will also contribute to Warwick’s environmental preservation by sponsoring the 10th Annual Earth Day Clean-Up of Buckeye Brook. The City of Warwick, Picasso’s Pizza, Don’s Pizza, Sandy Lane Meat Market, Twins Construction and Mousies Deli helped fund the event. Volunteers will collect trash and debris in the Buckeye Brook area including Spot Park. An expected 300 participants from City Year, Warwick, Big Sisters of RI, the Conimicut Village Association, the Mill Cove Conservancy, the Oakland Beach Association, the Department of Environmental Management of RI and the Earth Day Committee will meet at 9 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 475 Sandy Lane.



Groups will disband and clean until 12 noon, targeting all areas of Buckeye Brook watershed from the Pawtuxet River to Oakland Beach to Narragansett Bay. The coalition also encourages people to notify them of other neglected locations near their homes that are in need of cleaning. They will provide a crew to go to any area, not necessarily water related, and clean it up.



This year Peter Naeumann of the Ocean State Raptors will be on site at the command post on Sandy Lane to display birds of prey, hawks, eagles, and other birds for an educational lesson.



All volunteers are asked to dress warmly and wear work gloves and waterproof boots if possible. Anyone interested in providing volunteer services should contact Steve Insana at 864-6112 or visit the Buckeye Brook Coalition’s Web site at