Barrington Town Council supports skatepark grant as top priority

Council President Carl Kustell casts dissenting vote, wanted to prioritize splash pad grant

By Josh Bickford
Posted 12/7/23

The Barrington Town Council followed the recommendation of the Park and Recreation Commission and ranked a grant application for a new skatepark behind Town Hall higher than an application for …

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Barrington Town Council supports skatepark grant as top priority

Council President Carl Kustell casts dissenting vote, wanted to prioritize splash pad grant

Posted

The Barrington Town Council followed the recommendation of the Park and Recreation Commission and ranked a grant application for a new skatepark behind Town Hall higher than an application for expanding the splash pad at Police Cove Park.

But the decision was not unanimous.

Barrington Town Council President Carl Kustell did not agree with the Commission’s recommendation and eventually voted against the motion. Kustell said he believed there was more demand for splash pad improvements in Barrington. Kustell said he based his opinion on having seen people using the splash pad during warm weather — he said there was clear, tangible evidence supporting the splash pad but only speculative support for the skatepark. 

A member of the Park and Recreation Commission pushed back against Kustell. 

Thomas “TR” Rimoshytus spoke at the Council meeting. He said the town already had $100,000 in American Rescue Plan funding earmarked for the splash pad improvements. 

Rimoshytus said the Park and Recreation Commission members put in their own time to research and discuss a variety of issues. He said the Council asked the Commission for a recommendation for ranking the grant applications and the Commission did just that. Rimoshytus said the Council should not revisit a topic to vote again if they do not agree with a recommendation from one of their boards or commissions. 

Frustration was evident as Rimoshytus spoke. 

Kustell argued that the Council was not voting on the issue in an effort to get a desired result. 

Council Vice President Rob Humm said it was actually the opposite — he said the Council action was supporting the work already completed by the Park and Recreation Commission. 

Meanwhile, Barrington Town Manager Phil Hervey, who has already voiced his support for ranking the splash pad as the top priority grant application, offered a correction to something Rimoshytus had said earlier. Hervey said the Council has approved $35,000 in ARPA funding for a fence at the splash pad, not $100,000. 

A short time later, Humm made a motion to follow the recommendations of the Park and Recreation Commission in ranking the skatepark grant application at the top priority and the splash pad grant application second. 

Council member Braxton Cloutier seconded the motion, which passed by a 4-1 vote. 

Kustell voted against the motion. 

How it works

The town is applying for two recreation grants offered through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. 

One grant application is for $280,000 to construct a new skatepark in a section of the parking lot behind Barrington Town Hall. That grant requires a 20 percent match from the local community. 

The second grant application is for splash pad expansion and improvements. The grant is for $100,000 and requires a 20 percent local match. 

DEM officials ask communities that are filing more than one grant application to rank them in order of priority. According to Mike Seward, the chairman of the Park and Recreation Commission, the top place ranking carries two points out of a total of 93 or 97. 

Support for projects

At multiple public meetings — Town Council and Park and Recreation Commission — residents have spoken about the need for a new skatepark in Barrington. Tom Claussen attended a recent Council meeting and shared details about the problems with the existing skatepark at Legion Way. Matt Amaral, who serves on the town’s Economic Development Commission, also spoke in support of a new skatepark. During the November Council meeting, Amaral said he fully supported the construction of a high quality skatepark in Barrington.

At the November meeting of the Barrington Park and Recreation Commission, Barrington resident Dean Brockway, an assistant harbormaster with the town, offered some information about the splash pad. Brockway — who is often at Police Cove Park, as it where the harbor patrol keeps its boat — said the splash pad is well-used but he had never seen it overcrowded. 

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