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Aquidneck Island ponders the future of former Navy land

February 9, 2011


On Thursday February 10th, residents of Aquidneck Island will chime in on what to do with 225 acres of land in Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth.

The Navy pulled out of the area back in the 1970’s, leaving behind the War College, Officer Candidate School and other entities. What’s left behind is prime waterfront real estate in some of the most beautiful parts of the state. In Newport, there are 10 acres at the historic Navy Hospital. There’s the former Navy Lodge in Middletown. And in Portsmouth there are two large tracts of land where the Navy stored fuel tanks. There are also a couple of roads, Stringham Road and a part of Defense Highway.

Federal law gives local governments the authority to decide how the land is developed. But the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act gives homeless services first consideration. None of the five applicants was a homeless service provider, and only one was from a private company.

The applicants are:

The City of Newport, which wants to use a portion of the Naval Hospital property for recreation and public space.

The Town of Middletown also wants public space for about 15 acres around Midway Pier and Green Lane.

The Town of Portsmouth is looking at four acres on a portion of Tank Farm 2 for transportation use.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has its eye on Defense Highway and Stringham Road.

A company called Solaris Power, LLC wants the 96 acres of Tank Farm 2 for green energy use. There is no Solaris Power registered with the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

The panel overseeing redevelopment will submit a plan to the Defense Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development in August.

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