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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Rhode Island

Middletown Town Center
Walkable Design Makes Chores a Pleasure
Centre of New England Business Park
Business "Park" Brings Sprawl, Traffic

Middletown Town Center
Walkable Design Makes Chores a Pleasure

Imagine waking up in the morning to the view of a forested valley, then strolling through the town park on your way to the post office. From there you pick up some coffee at a nearby shop, hit the Sakonnet Greenway and then loop past a reservoir and bird sanctuary on your way to the library. Sound good? After the Middletown Town Center is built, residents of Middletown will soon enjoy this lifestyle.

The project will include residential, retail and public-use properties all within a quick walk or bike ride. For residents who need to commute longer distances, the development is fully equipped with existing bus service, and there's talk of adding a trolley. The developers are taking full advantage of existing resources by building near developed properties.

The new shops and dwellings will look directly down into Bailey's Brook Valley, an area that has become choked with invasive plants, but will be restored to its natural beauty by the developers. Nearby farm land is being purchased for protection or potential use as community gardens for residents.

The project will ensure that buildings and streets are built at a human scale: The maximum building height will be 40 feet and the sidewalks will be wide enough to accommodate outdoor cafes. Residents will also be able to enjoy concerts at the planned amphitheater or meet at the senior center that's already being built.

Centre of New England Business Park
Business "Park" Brings Sprawl, Traffic

The new 480-acre Centre of New England Business Park is actually in the center of suburban sprawl. This development is at least five miles from any urban center and the site's location near two smaller towns will spur even more sprawling growth.

There are no plans to restore, enhance or protect open space. In order to begin building on the site, forest lands were cleared, habitat was disturbed and an already-threatened watershed has been further imperiled. As a result of the development, a nearby lake is in danger of experiencing serious problems with sediment from runoff.

With bus service only twice a day and scant housing anywhere nearby, almost everyone who works at the complex will be forced to drive. In fact, the developers have plans for 8,000 to 9,000 parking spots to accommodate workers and visitors. This means more air pollution for a region that already has air pollution problems.

The Centre of New England Business Park is poorly planned growth that will encourage more suburban sprawl. This type of haphazard development harms the environment and local residents' quality of life.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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