Matunuck, RI – Pub owner Kevin Finnegan is not ready to give up the fight for his Ocean Mist Bar or his beloved beachside community of Matunuck.
Finnegan, owner of the Ocean Mist beach bar, sitting high above the waters of Block Island Sound in what is known as the Matunuck Headlands, says although he will continue to fight for and protect the Ocean Mist, it’s time to shift the focus to the entire Matunuck community.
“If the town and the Ocean Mist hold hands, still, it’s not saving the Ocean Mist, it’s saving Matunuck,” said Finnegan in an interview before the holiday weekend. “The cultural aspect, the economy of it, the whatever, we’re just a thread of the fabric, and it’s a big thread.”
Mother Nature factors into the battle
At accord, the Town’s approved build of a 202 ft. sheet pile construction wall to protect the lone road of ingress and egress to the village.
Waging a duel against time and Mother Nature, Finnegan also took up battle with the Town of South Kingstown, hoping to protect both his home and business from what he considers increased risk of loss if the Town goes forward with it’s plan to construct the sheet pile armament along a strip of headlands directly abutting his business to the West.
Finnegan was unable to convince the Town to repair and maintain an existing stone revetment seawall on the same property, one according to the pub owner, that’s been in existence for 50 years.
Although the road is at risk of failure due to continued battering and coastal erosion from the Atlantic waters of Block Island Sound to the South, the project meant to protect the village infrastructure puts businesses and homes to the east in further jeopardy according to Finnegan.
Finnegan asked the Town to consider restoring the original stone wall now in a state of deterioration that sits on their property.
The controversy playing out amidst litigation and regulatory hearings turned in favor of the town in June when the Coastal Resources Management Council approved the Town’s environmental impact plan, clearing a path for slated construction under a $1.6 million transportation and infrastructure project.
Finnegan and his employees circulated an online petition as proof of the community’s support to rebuild the existing wall. Garnering almost 5,000 signatures online and several thousand more in writing, Finnegan said his supporters, literally world-wide, are solid in their support.
On Alfred’s agenda, public health and safety, as the road infrastructure holds and protects the village’s main water supply line. The road also serves as the only land emergency access point for the Town’s first responders.
“The ownership in the property is an important one to us,” said Alfred during CRMC testimony in June. “For not just public access, but also for the ability to maintain that property and to protect the road. As noted, there are 240 houses to the east of the potential breach point.”