Valley Park is a large open space area of 40+ acres that was donated to the town of Middletown more than fifteen years ago. At the time, there was support to create a Town Center area with open space, commercial property along the road and a gathering spot for the Town. Some of the more ambitious plans were abandoned because of cost, but there was still hope the area could become an area that could be used by the town residents for outdoor activities.
Soon however, contamination of the soil from agriculture and industrial use was detected, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) became involved and all plans for use of the property were halted.
After extensive engineering and environmental studies and years of negotiations by the Town Administration with DEM, an agreement was reached that allowed for the creation of specially constructed walkways throughout the area which would serve as a cap for the contamination.
Natural vegetation will be allowed to grow around the walks which will encourage walkers to remain on the walkways and it will only be cut once each year so that the park will remain in as natural a state as possible.
The Landscaping Plan
The Middletown Tree Commission was honored by the Town with the task of designing and implementing a landscaping plan for Valley Park. Due to the environmental constraints and other issues, the plan consists of trees alone.
The design effort began in 2015 when, together with Middletown DPW personnel, over a mile of walking trails were laid out. In the summer of 2016, crews from the DPW constructed about a mile and a quarter of trails to RI DEM specifications with gravel trucked in from Tiverton, laid over barrier sheet material.
In addition to the trails, a parking lot was constructed on the northern end of the park, previously planted trees were moved, several other entrances were created off High Street and wooden three rail fences were installed.
An Aerial photo of the park the and walkways looking north, taken by Gary Paquette in December of 2016, is shown below. High Street is shown along the left of the park.
The current project schedule is to begin tree planting this spring (2017) based on the design of Alan Kirby (Middletown Tree Warden) and Chuck DiTucci, both members of the Commission.
The planting design is shown in the link below. It consists of 11 “planting beds” which are basically islands of trees among the natural vegetation.
The planting will be done in several phases with the first phase scheduled for this year.
Earlier this year, competitive bids were requested from 18 vendors and 5 responses were received. The list of trees in the RFQ package for this year can be seen on this page Request for Proposals on this site, and it consists of 128 trees, of many species of both broad leaf deciduous and coniferous trees .
The winning bidder, Yardworks was selected on April 27.
At the time of this writing ( late May, 2017 ), most of the trees are stored at the park as a precursor to the planting.
Most of the funding for this project comes from the Town. At this time, the commission has also received funding for this project from Charlie Silvia of the Newport Horticultural Society and the Alice B Mayer Trust.
This extensive effort will be a multiyear project and progress will be reported on this site.