Last Thursday, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management met with Exeter and Richmond town residents to discuss a proposed DEM visitors center near Browning Mill Pond. The center will sit on land in the Arcadia Management Area, a protected swath of 14,000 acres in western Rhode Island. The project faces opposition from residents of both towns.
Roughly 100 people attended the meeting at Richmond Elementary School.
Richmond Town Council President Paul Michaud said many residents seem opposed to the choice of location, rather than the center itself.
“The spot where they’re putting it has been a longtime favorite spot of the people who use Arcadia State Park because it has the pond, and it has the hill and people sit there on the picnic tables and so forth,“ said Michaud.
Michaud said that the Town of Richmond heard about plans for the center roughly a month ago.
He and other residents suggested alternative locations for the visitors during the meeting.
“One idea was to put it across the street from where they have it planned now,” said Michaud.
Another suggestion was to build the center off of Route 165 where residents say there is ample room to build, or off of Route 3 not far from the Town of Richmond.
In February, the town of Exeter filed a cease and desist order on construction with the RI Attorney General’s office citing local zoning violations.
As for the project’s future, a spokesperson for the DEM says they’re going over the feedback officials received and will be able to comment later in the week.