Salty Brine Goes Green

One of southern Rhode Island’s busiest and most popular spots, especially in the summertime, is the village of Galilee in the town of Narragansett. Recreational and commercial fishing boats bring their bounty to the pier here every day. The Block Island Ferry shuttles travelers to and from the island from its dock here. Camping is available at nearby Fishermen’s Memorial State Park. And tiny Salty Brine State Beach, along with longtime local favorite restaurants like Champlin’s Seafood and George’s, regularly attracts a brisk volume of visitors.

It’s at the nexus of many of these attractions that a major green project is now underway. It’s causing huge parking and aesthetic issues and inconveniences this summer, which surely aren’t making merchants and visitors as happy as they’d like to be. But for Galilee’s long term, this is good news: Salty Brine Beach’s 37-year-old public bath house is being replaced with a new handicap-accessible, LEED Silver-certified, sustainable, energy-efficient facility. And it’s all going to be powered by a wind turbine and solar panels. (In case you’re curious, the wind power will be provided by a residential-size 10KW Bergey wind turbine on a 100-foot tower.)

The project is being coordinated by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s Renewable Energy Fund and the state’s Department of Environmental Management, who view the upcoming 2,478-square-foot bath house not only as an upgrade to the previous facility but also as an educational tool for the public about green energy. 

Lighting, exhaust and circulation fans, and hot water for showers and flushing toilets “will be provided on-site by a small, residential-scale wind turbine and solar hot water heaters on the roof of the building,” says the press release. “The building has been designed to maximize energy efficiency with its R30 building shell, energy-efficient lighting fixtures, lighting controls, faucets and low-energy hand dryers. Other measures, such as heating only half of the building for early spring and fall public use and maximizing the use of daylight, will enhance energy efficiency at the facility.”

Besides education, the public will get bathrooms, showers, an outdoor rinsing shower, a foot-wash, a snack bar with utilities for possible hot food concessions, and an upper-level lifeguard station. “The bath house deck with ramp, and a new shade structure and observation decks on the stone jetty that are connected by a boardwalk along the parking lot edge, will enhance public access and use of the facility,” continues the release. “Bike racks and additional parking spaces will also be provided.”

Compared to the minor mess that’s there now, this sounds awesome. Until the project is completed on Memorial Day 2010, however, we’ll have to deal with fences, port-a-johns, no showers and hardly any parking spots. It’s a small price to pay, though, for getting Rhode Islanders working and going green at the same time.

Trivia: Did you know that the beach was originally called Galilee State Beach, but renamed Salty Brine in 1990 after a beloved local radio personality of the same name? Sounds like this guy was quite the character!

Posted by Joe Paone

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2 Responses

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