Grant of $57K will fund construction of pavilions at Steere Hill Farm, Hawkins Pond in Glocester

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GLOCESTER – Two properties featuring walking trails maintained by the Glocester Land Trust will soon have new pavilions thanks to a $57,000 grant through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Recreation Trails Grants Program.

The project will see ADA-compliant wooden 16 X 20 pavilions with benches and picnic tables constructed at Hawkins Pond and Steere Hill Farm, with construction complete by April of 2025.

The land trust received notice of the award last year, and the Glocester Town Council recently authorized the group to sign an agreement with RIDEM for the funding, valid through August of 2024. The grant was one of 22 totaling approximately $1.4 million awarded across to state to support trail development and improvement projects. The grants provide up to 80 percent of the cost for eligible project components that promote and enhance trail-based recreation.

In Glocester, the town will match the grant with $14,250, for a total project cost of $71,250.

Hawkins Pond, a 75-acre site located on Route 44 just before the Connecticut line, features three miles of marked and maintained hiking trails. The property has a system of streams and areas of mature pine forest – with some exceeding 75 feet in height. It also is home to a variety of plant species; an abundance of fish and water fowl; deer; fox; coyotes; porcupines; raccoons; otters; muskrats; woodchucks; opossum; pheasant; partridge; and wild turkey, according to the land trust.

The pond on the property powered a sawmill beginning around 1750, and in 1873, a cotton mill was erected on the lot.

“Succeeding years saw the pond used to power a woodworking mill and, again, a sawmill,” notes the trust on its website.

“Around 1924, Walter A. Hawkins, a self-educated mechanic, fashioned a generator and electrical system, and generated electricity for the area until 1936,” giving the pond its name.

The new pavilion to be constructed at Hawkins will have a view of the shoreline and pond.

The Steere Hill Farm area is comprised of four abutting parcels acquired from 1967 to 2010, with a total of 448 acres. During the early 20th Century, the properties at Steere Hill were used for orchards, hayfields, woodlots and livestock. The area by Harmony Village features several miles of marked and maintained trails, with a parking area opposite the Harmony Post Office on Putnam Pike. 

There, a new pavilion will be constructed at the summit with the RIDEM grant, offering wildlife habitat meadow views.

Funded through the Federal Highway Administration and is administered in RIDEM and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, the state grant program opened last winter. Applicants across the state sought funding for more than three times the funding available.

The Trails Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of trail user groups as well as state agencies, conducted detailed analyses of each proposal prior to announcing the awards.

“Rhode Island’s outdoor recreation industry is an increasingly important part of our state’s economy, contributing an estimated $3.3 billion annually and supporting 36,000 jobs,” noted a release on the grants from the state agencies.

Glocester originally entered a contract for the project last November, but a new agreement authorized by the council this month extends the deadline by 14 months, with work expected to begin this year.

Editor’s note: The above article originally referenced the “Burrillville” rather than “Glocester” Land Trust and has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

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