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The Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway

Project Overview: The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project is a catalyst for renewal along the Woonasquatucket River in Providence. The green linear park revitalizes the major hidden natural resource on the West Side of the City and is a destination for neighborhood residents and people throughout Providence and Rhode Island. A bicycle/pedestrian path links recreational areas, green spaces, destination sites, and the neighborhoods of Manton, Hartford, Olneyville, Valley, and Smith Hill to each other and Waterplace Park in downtown Providence.

Map of the Greenway

A Brief History: The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project was initiated in 1993 by Fred Lippitt, then Chairman of The Providence Plan. The primary area of concern at that time was the neighborhood of Olneyville, the most impoverished and underserved neighborhood in Providence. Fred and others realized that Olneyville had a hidden and untapped asset - the Woonasquatucket River, and determined to restore the river and adjacent, abandoned industrial lands as a catalyst for positive change in Olneyville and other neighborhoods along the river. The river itself was hard to find, lined by abandoned, contaminated industrial sites and overgrown riverbanks filled with trash and debris. Children climbed over massive piles of illegally dumped debris to play along the river. Of the three parks along the river, one was undeveloped space (state owned Dyerville Park) and scheduled to be sold for development, one was officially closed (Merino Park), and one was abandoned (Donigian Park) .

Fred recruited Jane Sherman to be Project Director of the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project. Together and with the community they developed a goals for the project and worked to build partnerships with the neighborhood communities, environmental organizations, city, state and federal officials and agencies.

Project Goals:

  • Increase the recreational and green space available to local residents
  • Promote business development and reduce crime
  • Promote rider conservation and environmental action
  • Increase awareness of local history and river ecology

For more details see our timeline of milestones on the Greenway, read about our accomplishments and plans or choose from the selections on the sidebar.

Greenway Master Plan: To view the Greenway Master Plan in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format click here. This is a 53 page document (1.4 MB) so it will take a few minutes to download over a dial-up connection.

Partners and Funding: The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project collaborates with a broad range of partners in local and state government agencies, the private sector, the academic community, and the nonprofit sector. Funders of the operating costs for the Greenway Project have included the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, Merck Family Fund, Prince Charitable Trust, Jesse B. Cox Charitable Trust, Mary Dexter Chafee Fund, The Rhode Island Foundation, Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, Streuver Brothers Eccles and Rouse, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Capital grants and in-kind donation of services were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the RI Department of Transportation, the Coastal Resources Management Council, the Narragansett Bay Commission, the RI Department of Environmental Management, the National Park Service, the City of Providence, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife.

Resources, Tours and Presentations:We will be happy to speak to your organization about our programs and initiatives. We offer river tours and bike trips to small groups who are interested in going out and seeing the Woonasquatucket first hand and learning more about the Greenway Project in the field. These tours depend on the availability of funding for transportation and the availability of our staff to lead these tours.

For more information on any of the above resources please email Lisa Aurecchia (lisa@wrwc.org), or call her at (401) 861-9046. To be placed on our Constant Contact list so you will get up to date news about events, please enter your email address in the box below and click the submit button.

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Canoe rides on the river for neighborhood kids are a popular part of our Fall Festivals!

Neighborhood residents helping build a community garden at Riverside Park in Providence.

Kids out for a ride on the bike path!

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