Join your neighbors for the 2024 Spring Earth Day Clean up!
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We need your help to reinforce the embankment of the Park that has been eroded due to recent flooding. This will be EWPA’s major focus during 2024.
On any given day, our neighbors and friends from Cranston and the surrounding communities enjoy Stillhouse Cove in many ways. They participate in yoga classes, walk dogs, take prom pictures, and access the shoreline or Narragansett Bay via the boat ramp. The Park and Salt Marsh are the focal point of the neighborhood and its popularity grows each year due to environmental restorations and landscape improvements made to this property over the years.
While we all enjoy the beautiful views this site provides, what most visitors don’t see is the hidden damage to the shoreline and marsh from increasingly common extreme weather. The daily news of the consequences and dangers of climate change seem to happen elsewhere, not here. But that is not the case. Coastal erosion is putting our own salt marsh and cove at risk in places not visible to local residents and daily visitors. As stewards of Stillhouse Cove for almost three decades, the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA) wants you to know about it and to ask for your help.
In December of 2022, the extreme storm that flooded the RI Yacht Club and lower Ocean Avenue pounded the salt marsh. Waves crashed against the banks of the Park, topped the seawall recently installed by the Yacht Club, and flooded the eastern end of the Park at Ocean Avenue. The high tide and crashing waves caused extensive hidden damage to the embankment and the underlying infrastructure that preserves it. In 2013 the EWPA obtained Federal funding to repair damage from Superstorm Sandy that had washed away ten feet of the Park shoreline. With technical input from the Coastal Resources Management Council and Save the Bay, funds were used as part of a “pilot” project to change the slope of the embankments and stabilize the area with custom designed “coir envelopes” that project partners hoped would protect the area from worsening erosion. And it worked for ten years, until it didn’t.
Coir is a natural material made from coconut fibers that is biodegradable. The fibers are woven together to form rolls of fabric that are then turned into custom designed sand filled envelopes that are strategically contoured along the shoreline. Starting at the level of the marsh, each of these envelopes, or “burritos” (as we called them back then) are stacked one upon another with a setback of a few feet. It is the setback that creates a “staircase” like structure that ultimately creates a slope that is more dissipated and a stronger defense against wind-driven waves and rising tides. The bottom coir envelope forms the foundation for the subsequent steps that reconstruct the walls of the Park. The storm that occurred on December 23, 2022 washed away the bottom step of our hidden staircase and this extensive hidden damage now puts the embankment holding up the Park at risk.
The embankment and damaged coir envelopes need important repairs to avoid significant damage to the Park. We need to create a new “bottom step” that is secure enough not to wash away. Two years ago, when a northeast storm was predicted, the EWPA tried to shore up the bottom of the embankment with another product made from coir, coir logs. The logs, bought in New Hampshire and transported by Ray Mooney of Pawtuxet Cove Marina, were installed by a contractor hired by EWPA. Dislodged during a severe storm, they were reinstalled by EWPA volunteers and neighbors during one of our shoreline cleanups. Given all the maintenance performed on the embankments over the past ten years by EWPA, the coir envelopes worked longer than anticipated but were no match for the storm on December 23, 2022.
This past spring EWPA reached out to some of our previous partners from 2013 and sought opinions on the damage we observed. The contractor who installed the coir envelopes in 2013 came to the site to meet with us and Save the Bay to assess the impacted areas. A plan to repair the embankment with an estimate to do the work was generated that day and the costs are significant and need to be done as soon as possible. The work to protect the banks again will be more challenging this time because the slopes are already vegetated and no machinery is allowed in the tidal zone of the marsh. New material will need to be installed in front of what remains of the coir envelopes. The materials will be either new coir envelopes or larger, more substantial coir logs that are secured with stronger supports to keep everything in place.
Plants will need to be installed into the new structures and in front of them to add more protection from strong waves and higher tides. Since coir is biodegradable and sunlight hastens its deterioration, covering the structures with soil and planting into them again will help prolong their effective life. All of this work must be done by hand or done with machinery positioned at the top of the bank.. We will not know until construction begins how much of the Park will be impacted from this repair. It is safe to assume from our previous experience that there will be damage to the lawn and that some portion of the Park will be off limits for a while.
Although we don’t know when the next severe storm is coming, we know it is inevitable and we have an obligation to do all we can to save this beautiful spot which is enjoyed by so many in our community. Please visit www.stillhousecove.org to follow the work being done by your neighbors and friends who donate their time and resources to protect this historic property that is so environmentally fragile. Stillhouse Cove Reservation was created in 1915 by the Metropolitan Park Commission. It has been owned by the City of Cranston since 1984 and officially adopted by the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association since 1996.
May 4, 2023. Braving chilly temperatures, approximately 50 second grade students from the Rhodes School trooped down to Stillhouse Cove to participate in the first planting of a new tree in the Park in nearly 20 years – an “October Glory” Red Maple. Barbara Rubine of the EWPA explained that the tree was replacing three diseased Black Pine trees that had formerly stood on the site. The new tree is appropriate in dry soil and resistant to insect damage and salt spray. Mary Jo Hines of the Edgewood Garden Club explained the origin of Arbor Day. Then, in a spirited exchange, she then tested the students on their knowledge of the value of trees and the different parts of a tree. Craig Hotchkiss of the of the Rhode Island Tree Council demonstrated how to properly plant a tree while explaining proper tree maintenance practices. Cranston’s tree warden, John Skropuski, and Sarah Lee, President, and several other members of the Edgewood Garden Club participated. Also in attendance were teachers Mindy Duquette-DiOrio, Susan Neary, Brittany Gagnon, and Mellissa Medbery.
Over 60 neighbors and friends joined the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA) at Stillhouse Cove Salt Marsh and Park for our Annual Clean Up. Hundreds of pounds of trash and debris was removed including plastics, syringes, and lumber. Thanks to everyone that participated in the clean up.
Spring Clean Up
April 29, 9-11:30 AM
MORE 2023 CLEAN UP PHOTOS
CLEANING UP THE CLEAN UP
BARBARA RUBINE, PRESIDENT, PRESENTED THIS YEAR’S AGENDA AND GOALS. Approximately sixty community members were in attendance.
PRESENTATIONS ON THIS YEAR’S MEETING THEME: The Future of Trees in Edgewood: Hear from Tree Experts on Where We Are and Where Are We Going. First, a 7-minute film was screened of David Schwartz, an arborist with over fifty years of experience, speaking of the special challenges to trees in urban Rhode Island.
Finally, our keynote speaker, Robert (Lou) Allard spoke about the RI Department of Environmental Management’s programs to encourage the conservation and promotion of urban trees in the State. After the presentation, he answered questions from the audience.
FIND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S TREE EQUITY SCORE HERE: You can even search your own house lot. www.treeequityscore.org
Cranston’s Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation brought in heavy equipment last week to clear large objects that were lodged in Stillhouse Cove following the near-record high tide of December 23, 2022. Participating were Ray Tessaglia, Parks and Recreation Director and John Corso, Highway Department Manager. Dennis Conte, City Mason, can be seen cutting up a dock.
Over the last several years, EWPA has engaged in a number discussions of potential flooding scenarios in our area. On December 23, 2022, we got a full-blown demonstration.
The Fox Point Hurricane Barrier was closed when the water level there peaked at 9.2 feet at 8 a.m. thanks to a 3.79-foot storm surge. It was the ninth-highest level ever recorded at the Fox Point gauge and the highest since Hurricane Bob in 1991.
The photos below demonstrate the flooding’s local impact.
On July 15, 2022, twenty Mystic Aquarium STEM Advantage campers from Cranston public schools (grades three to six) eagerly explored the water, shoreline and grass area at Stillhouse Cove. They proudly showed their friends the large clumps of seaweed and silversides, clams, and crabs they found.
Caitlyn Blankenship, statewide coordinator for STEM Advantage RI, said the campers visited Stillhouse Cove to learn how to be environmental stewards while advancing their knowledge on aquatic research. Campers took water samples to test the Cove’s Ph levels, oxygen and turbidity.
The campers were too engrossed in their activities to pay much attention to their high- profile visitors including Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Cranston City council members Lammis Vargas, Jessica Marino and John Donegan. Also present were representatives from the United Way, the YMCA, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA).
See the Cranston Herald article below for full details.
In the most recently released episode of The Culpo Sisters, former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo and her two sisters come home to their parents’ Edgewood home. It appears to have been filmed early in the Spring of 2022. During the episode, the youngest sister Sophie Culpo and their mother Susan walk down to Stillhouse Cove and observe that the swans must be about to lay their eggs (followed by a shot of Canada Geese in Pawtuxet Cove). They then sit on one of the park benches and engage in a deep conversation about the perils of fame. The full episode can be viewed here: (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8hccwn.
Perhaps the production company might think about making a contribution to the EWPA which installed the bench and maintains the Park.