Town Council to Consider Land Acquisition on Pawcatuck River

Take a 3 minute video tour of the property by clicking above

On Monday, March 14, at 7 p.m. the Charlestown Town Council will consider the acquisition of 27 acres of land in the village of Carolina that will provide public access to 1,600 feet of frontage on the Pawcatuck River.

Update: The Town Council voted to acquire this property.

  • The Charlestown Land trust won a Rhode Island Natural Heritage Grant in the amount of $258,750.00 towards the purchase of this property. A Natural Heritage Grant is a highly competitive grant and a high ranking in this grant competition means the property has outstanding environmental value.

    • The property contains a floodplain forest, vernal pools, and approximately 1600 feet of frontage on the Pawcatuck River. The Pawcatuck River has been nominated for Federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River. The Wild and Scenic River designation recognizes the presence of plant and animal species of national significance.
    • The section of the Pawcatuck River that flows through this property is rated as “Pristine”.
    • The land is a hummocky glaciated landscape of high relief that contains a three-acre meadow adjacent to the river and a one-acre hay field bordered by a few old apple trees, in addition to oak forests and a variety of wetlands.
    • The steep slopes near the river contain unique glacial features.
  • The Pawcatuck River is one of South County’s most important public recreational attractions. The Pawcatuck has been nominated by Congress as a Wild and Scenic River. This designation recognizes the recreational importance of the Pawcatuck River.

    • Preservation of this property will preserve a long stretch of the riverfront and will preserve the “wild and scenic” experience of those who travel the river by canoe and kayak.
    • Hikers will access the property’s trail system from a parking lot on Railroad Avenue in Carolina that will provide hiking opportunities year round and cross country skiing or snow shoeing in winter.
    • Existing trails through the property include an old farm road and trails through forest and around fields.
    • There are also trails along the river and trails to the bluffs overlooking the river. There is dry access to the river and views of the river from different points.
  • The Town of Charlestown would purchase the property with $341,250.00 from the town’s open space bond fund. The remainder of the purchase price is being donated by the Charlestown Land Trust with the $258,750.00 RIDEM grant that they won for this property. This means the town is acquiring the property for 57% of the $600,000.00 asking price.

    • To ensure that the property is always managed for wildlife protection and public access, RIDEM and the Charlestown Land Trust would jointly hold a conservation easement.
    • The land owner had hired an engineer to prepare development plans for the property. Those plans showed a 19 lot residential subdivision over that part of the property now proposed for preservation.
    • If the property were developed with 19 houses, it would pay about $70,000.00 per year in taxes. But the estimated school and municipal costs from a 19 lot residential development in this part of town would be about $200,000.00, leaving the town with a net loss of $130,000.00 per year.
    • If the property is preserved rather than developed, it will pay for itself in three or four years, and then give generations of residents access to some of the most beautiful scenery along the Pawcatuck River.
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    Blue cross hatched area will be retained by owner. Access will be from lot 84 on Railroad Ave.

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