The basketball courts of the Abbruzzi complex find a new home

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NEWPORT — The basketball court originally slated to accompany the proposed new skatepark at the Abbruzzi Sports Complex could move up the road to bypass the deadlock over moving the T-ball court.

And the skatepark could go well with it.

“There was a lot of conversation initially about the ballpark, and it tied into all of that,” said Maureen Cronin, chairwoman of the Tree and Open Space Commission. “So we just needed to take the basketball court out of the conversation and leave it alone and find a place where it could be in the North End without having to deal with some of the issues of Little League and the skate park.”

City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a revision to initial plans to install a basketball court at the Abbruzzi Sports Complex, moving the location of the project to a plot across the campus from the Community College of Rhode Island.

Since the plans for the basketball court are tied to the proposed skatepark, both projects could potentially be built on this new court.

“It indicates that we can go ahead in the fall with the construction of a basketball court, and then we will try to integrate all of this at the same time to see where the skateboard park is,” said City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson Jr. told the city council Wednesday. “It’s going to be a question, for them, of design and spacing and then seeing where they are and how they want to move forward.

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“It’s a package, ultimately, the basketball court and the skatepark.”

The city’s 2017 master plan says more recreational facilities are needed in the North Ward

When Newport released its Trees, Parks and Open Space Master Plan in 2017, it identified a lack of parks or recreation facilities in the North End and Broadway neighborhoods – despite the fact that those areas were home to more of half of the children under 15 in the city – as a problem the city needed to address.

The master plan lists two basketball courts as possible developments for the North End, along with two soccer fields, a baseball diamond, one to two tennis courts and two to three playgrounds. This is the same section that recommended moving the skatepark from its original location at Easton’s Beach.

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“Residents identified many needs and wants, and one of them was that the North End was underserved when it came to certain facilities,” Cronin said. “The basketball court was the one they absolutely wanted.”

The city applied for a grant from the state Department of Environmental Management to fund construction of the basketball court in 2019 through the state Green Economy and Clean Water Bond approved by voters in 2018.

The original plan was to use the $100,000 grant to fund 80% of a new full-size basketball court at the Abbruzzi Sports Complex, which would be installed next to a proposed new skatepark for the property.

Time to use the grant money to build the new basketball court is critical

Despite identifying the T-ball park as underutilized in the grant proposal, the city was pushed back by residents who objected to its relocation. Even after the construction of the skatepark and the relocation of the T-ball field were approved by the city council in September 2021, a new location for the T-ball field has not yet been decided.

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Due to an amendment to the September skatepark resolution, the skatepark and basketball court must await the construction of the new T-ball court before beginning construction.

Theodore

With the December 2022 grant project completion deadline fast approaching and the discussion surrounding the Abbruzzi Sports Complex and the relocation of the T-ball Park underway, the Trees and Open Spaces Commission and the City staff decided to find a new location for the land, rather than lose grant funding.

The new location is just one block northeast of the sports complex, on the east side of the community college campus.

“They didn’t want to see (the basketball court) go away,” Cronin said.

The new park was once owned by the Navy

Cronin said Nicholson helped identify a city-owned property to use for the basketball court: Plat 2 Plot 30, otherwise known as 0 Coddington Highway. The city received the property through a larger land acquisition from the United States Navy, which filed a quitclaim deed on the land in 2000.

In 2001, the city built John H. Chafee Boulevard through the middle of the property and divided the 14-acre lot into three separate parcels, the largest of which now houses the Community College of Rhode Island campus.

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The plot the city is considering for the basketball court was originally leased to BankNewport in 2006 to build a 75,000 square foot bank headquarters, but that project has stalled. The city terminated the 100-year lease in 2015.

Little has been established about the proposed basketball court, other than its new location. At 5.1 acres, the parcel is much larger than the proposed basketball court will be, and Cronin hopes the location of the land there will create more opportunities for parks and recreation development on this land. in the future.

“Right now, right now, there are no identifiable plans, but I know the intent and the hope is to create more recreational opportunities around this neighborhood and the kids,” he said. said Cronin.

Skatepark supporters approve of the city’s decision to create a new park

Michael Richards showed up to speak at the meeting approving the basketball court move on Wednesday, alongside Water Brothers surf and skate shop owner Sid Abbruzzi. The two represent Friends of Newport Skatepark, the organization working to bring a new skatepark to town.

They said they were encouraged by the city’s decision to dissolve the controversy around the proposed location of the skatepark.

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“It looks like you’ve found a great solution to get us out of the adversarial arena,” Richards said. “We think that’s a huge step.”

Unlike the basketball court, the skatepark will be privately funded through donations to the Friends of Newport Skatepark. Richards and Abbruzzi said that once the city drafts a resolution designating some of the new land for the skatepark, they can start raising funds for its construction.

“We postponed the fundraiser and told people we didn’t have a location,” Abbruzzi said. “I think we were just waiting for a place to say ‘Future Home of the Newport Skatepark’ and the fundraising is going to start.”

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