(We did it! The petition is no longer active.)

The Friends of Town Farm, a group of concerned community members who want to preserve the Park as a valuable recreational, cultural, and historic resource, believe that the proposed Land Conversion Application should be withdrawn from consideration by the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) for submission to the National Park Service (NPS).

Our reasons, described in detail in our Position Statement, are based on five general supporting themes:

1. the historical and cultural significance of the property,

2. misalignment with the 2021 Town of South Kingstown Comprehensive Community Plan,

3. The application for Land Conversion is incomplete and lacks all relevant information regarding the land use,

4. environmental and stormwater mitigation concerns, and

5. alternative parking options have not been exhausted.

We acknowledge that the Hospital plays a vital role in serving our community on many levels and value it as a neighbor. However, there has to be a limit. The park has already been reduced twice over the years to allow for hospital campus expansion. The time has never been more relevant than now to preserve what little is left of the park. A combination of recreational space and perhaps a tribute or monument acknowledging the Native Americans that inhabited this land long before the Town was even established might be more appropriate than a parking lot.

Given the archaeological significance of the site and the very restrictive guidance for performing any future construction activities on the property, it seems reasonable to assume that cost estimates to achieve the desired outcome may be prohibitive and/or the scope will need to be drastically reduced. Therefore, the anticipated return on the investment may not ultimately be achieved.

The entire process that has allowed for the Land Conversion Application to move forward seems illogical and contrary to the Town Comprehensive Community Plan, the wishes of the Recreation Commission, the needs and desires of the residents, respect for our Town’s Native American culture and heritage, and overall good planning practices. It has been said many times and rings even truer now that “the cart has been put before the horse,” and problems keep arising as a result.

Healthcare and hospital utilization trends throughout the country are rapidly moving from a focus on inpatient acute care to a focus on population health, in particular social determinants of health. In light of this, SCH should be encouraged to utilize offsite locations for as many of its existing or proposed expansion of services as possible. If parking is “mission critical,” as stated at public hearings, then they should exhaust all possible options to improve what they have right now and provide documentation of such. We request that the Town work collaboratively with the hospital to reduce the number of “single occupant” trips to the hospital location and to seek alternative parking solutions.

In closing, we respectfully request that the Town Council:

  1. Adhere to requirements to protect burial sites,

  2. Acknowledge the Town’s commitment to maintaining Town Farm Park for recreational purposes in perpetuity, and

  3. Honor the vision of its Comprehensive Plan and Land Acknowledgement statement.

This would be achieved by:

  1. A vote against the proposed conversion of Town Farm Park and Narragansett burial site to a parking lot and maintain it as a public space,

  2. Formally withdrawing the Land Conversion application to RI DEM and the National Park Service, and

  3. Actively work with the hospital to seek alternate parking solutions.

Thank you.