South Kingstown – Calling for a united approach to erosion concerns in the seaside village of Matunuck, legal counsel for the Ocean Mist, reached out to the Town, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), federal and local legislators, offering a public-private partnership solution to the Town’s controversial road infrastructure project.
“I’m not asking the Town to not protect the road,” said Kevin Finnegan, owner of the Ocean Mist on Tuesday. “Matunuck needs the road. We all need the road. I’m asking that the seawall be moved seaward in order to protect my property, Tara’s and the properties to the east of me on the water.”
Finnegan’s beachfront business sits on one of several parcels along a 675 ft. stretch of Matunuck Beach Road and headlands under scrutiny as part of an approved $1.6 million transportation and infrastructure project. The Ocean Mist, according to testimony before CRMC and engineers hired by both Town and Finnegan, is directly affected by the Town’s proposal to build a 202 ft. hard structured sea wall on a neighboring property.
Finnegan, who has owned the world-renowned beachfront eatery and pub, now in its 25th year, proffered a plan through counsel to purchase two parcels of land directly adjacent to his property to the west. The two lots, now owned by the Town, are host to a rip rap armament structure (wall), partially fallen due to year’s of neglect and the force of the sea to the South.
“The Ocean Mist proposes to enter into a private/public partnership to restore the historic wall system; protect (rather than destroy) the Beach, the central community feature; enhance parking, public access, and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors; and contribute to an aesthetic and economic revitalization of the Matunuck Beach Road community (as opposed to scripting its demise through the Sea Wall)” wrote William Landry, Ocean Mist legal counsel in September correspondence.
The parcel immediately adjacent to the Ocean Mist is the subject of the Town’s planned seawall build, a 202 ft. protective mechanism necessary to defend the main access road providing ingress and egress to the village. The road serves as sole access for emergency vehicles and houses the main water line running into the village.
CRMC in May 2012 voted to approve the Sea Wall in light of the Town’s aversion of “imminent peril” and its duty to provide for public health and welfare.
Meeting with town and government officials over the last few weeks, Finnegan, while prepared to fight for an alternate armament placement in court, offered his plan as a more amicable solution and “joining of hands” between village businesses, residents and the Town.
“I’ll buy the property from the Town, restore and maintain the sea wall for everyone. It’s a win for the town. It’s a win for the Ocean Mist and Matunuck,” he said. “But the wall has to be moved seaward – an extension of the historic wall that was on Mary Carpenter’s property. Let’s fix the wall that’s there.”
Finnegan hopes the plan can be executed, given proper clearances from CRMC and agreement of the parties through CRMC maintenance assents, customarily a more direct path to permitting and actual construction.
Now subject of a Superior Court appeal, commencement of the project is in limbo.
“We all want what’s best for Matunuck,” said Finnegan. “There doesn’t have to be good guys and bad guys.”
May 12, 2012 as printed at TraceyC_Online
Meet Me at the Mist
May 12 2012 Matunuck Plan Could Spell End for the Ocean Mist
May 9, 2012 CRMC Votes for South Kingstown Seawall
May 8, 2012 Imminent Peril Reconsideration for Matunuck Beach Road
April 26, 2012 CRMC Issues Eleventh Hour Decision
Tough Luck South Kingstown
April 24, CRMC – South Kingstown Meeting Video (Steve Alfred, Town Manager testifies)
April 12, 2012 CRMC to Consider Second SK Plan for Matunuck Erosion
October 11, 2011 Businesses, Residents to Battle Erosion Emergency
October 4, 2011 Town moves forward on Matunuck Headland Project
June 2, 2011 Tension As Council, CRMC Meet To Discuss Matunuck Headlands Once More