Citizen advocacy led to the creation of a 18-acre public park in 1974 on part of the Providence shoreline known as India Point, which for many decades had been a railroad yard and a metal junkyard, and, much earlier, a colonial seaport. The impetus for organizing Friends of India Point Park (FIPP) in 2000 was to create a citizens group that would advocate on behalf of the park during the relocation of the adjacent I-195, because “trees don’t vote.”
To maintain and enhance India Point Park’s unique natural beauty as the city’s only expansive shoreline public space with sweeping water views of Narragansett Bay, and to preserve the park as an informal, unstructured refuge from the city’s built environment.
1 - Maintain and improve the park: We organize volunteers for our adopt-a-spot program, graffiti patrol, annual spring clean-up, and other projects, working with the Providence Parks Department and other city and state officials. We helped design the park’s playground, sponsored its citizen-built mosaic wall, and have been transforming the pedestrian bridge and other parts of the park from a jumble of invasive plants and weeds to landscaped beds of native plants, bushes, and trees.
2 - Advocate on behalf of the park and public use of the waterfront: FIPP initiated efforts to bury the shoreline power lines, re-establish the Seekonk River public boat ramp at East Transit Street, preserve the Shooters site (currently a ferry landing) for public use, and defeat proposals to build a 700-car parking garage on the waterfront and other structures that would have obstructed the park’s narrow natural shoreline.
3 - Sponsor activities in the park: In addition to conducting work projects, FIPP has also organized a bird walk, a photo contest, an art show, a treasure hunt, walking tours, a workshop on public waterfront space, the 2004 30 th anniversary celebration of the park’s founding, and Bridge Fest, celebrating the opening of the new pedestrian bridge over I-195 in 2008.
4 - Conduct outreach and publicity: FIPP works with, and appreciates the support of, multiple organizations and public officials. They include Providence’s mayor, members of the City Council, state legislators, city and state agencies, local businesses, the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, Jewelry District Association, Partnership for Providence Parks, Perennial Planters, Providence Preservation Society, Brown, RISD, and Johnson & Wales. FIPP publicizes its activities via its email list, website, and Facebook and Instagram accounts.
FIPP is a non-profit 501-c-3 citizens organization with by-laws; its Steering Committee meets monthly for collaborative decision-making about FIPP’s direction and priorities. Its committees coordinate activities like Adopt-a-Spot, graffiti patrol, photo exhibits, and the 18-year campaign to bury the waterfront’s high-voltage power lines.