Published on October 29th, 2015 | by Ocean Mist0
Kevin Finnegan: Wall repair would be best for Matunuck
By Kevin Finnegan
Posted Sep. 29, 2015 at 2:01 AM
In a June 15 Commentary piece (“Town could doom landmark restaurant”), I wrote about the impasse that exists between the town of South Kingstown and the community relying on the Matunuck neighborhood for work, fun and a sweet place to live.
As the owner-operator of the Ocean Mist, an economic engine contributing more than $5 million annually to the Rhode Island economy, I have a significant interest. Each party agrees that for the purpose of public safety, the Matunuck Beach Road must be protected from the ocean and the effects of beach erosion. The conflict resides in how best to protect the road.
Many meetings have been held, many regulations have been reviewed, and all sides, with the best of intentions, have been working toward a solution that meets everyone’s needs. Protect Matunuck, an organization built by businesses, homeowners and the Matunuck community, has collected nearly 10,000 signatures and generated as many emails to elected leaders. These signatures and emails urge South Kingstown leaders to protect the community and its resources. U.S. senators, state legislators and other elected officials have been briefed and offered help.
With a deep respect for the town, its leaders and people, I have made an offer to build a true public-private partnership that saves the town massive sums of money and implements their plan to protect the road.
I have suggested that the town and I join forces and seek a maintenance permit with the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to repair the wall sitting to the west of the Ocean Mist. The wall, when properly maintained, has protected the road for decades. GZA, a widely recognized engineering expert in such matters, agrees: the historic wall helps protect the road. (As of now, the town does not support rebuilding the wall.)
In the wake of superstorm Sandy, homes and business owners up and down the entire Rhode Island coast — from Westerly to Narragansett — sought and received maintenance permits just days after application. Together, the town and I will hope for the same swift consideration. I will cover the cost of the entire repair including engineering, materials and installation — an investment worth more than $2 million.
I have also offered to pay for the materials and installation of the 202-foot steel sheet wall that the town has a permit to begin. This would save the town more than $1.5 million, freeing money for use elsewhere to improve and protect the town’s infrastructure.
The offer includes helping other homeowners and affected properties to implement a “soft” solution to the east of the Ocean Mist, as proposed by CRMC. Again, using no town resources, I and other owners will cover the cost of installation, materials and maintenance, which will serve to protect the property and public shoreline for decades to come.
Finally, the Ocean Mist building will be raised, and the existing foundation replaced with a structure that includes a return to help protect the building.
Each of these steps, funded without government resources, but with government cooperation and input, protects the economic engine that is the Ocean Mist, Tara’s Pub and the 100 jobs included in the two businesses. The economic impact to the State of Rhode Island is immense. Our investment and partnership assures the continuation of a community that has served as a jewel for generations of families.
We often hear those in government tout the benefits of public private partnerships, and the need to save jobs. The proposal here is the very essence of a public private partnership that protects jobs and a way of life enjoyed by thousands of people.