Yard work for Stillhouse Cove

Posted 4/26/22

Joy Fox, one of the seven Democrats vying for the Second Congressional District seat was running for another reason Saturday morning at a cleanup hosted by the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Yard work for Stillhouse Cove


Joy Fox, one of the seven Democrats vying for the Second Congressional District seat was running for another reason Saturday morning at a cleanup hosted by the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association in partnership with Save and Bay and the Pawtuxet Village Association. 

Fox stays fit. She surely continues to do Irish step dancing although at the moment that didn’t seem like the appropriate question to ask. Wearing black tights and a blue fleece with a round Joy for Congress sticker, she sprinted through the volunteers gathered at registration tables at the north end of the park, heading for an access to the marsh below the embankment. It was low tide, exposing clumps of marsh growth bisected by channels allowing the free exchange of fresh water runoff and salt water. Keeping those channels open so as to inhibit the growth of invasive species is part of the park maintenance efforts undertaken by the all-volunteer EWPA. Volunteers were out in the marsh bagging debris near a pool left behind by the retreating tide. Some stood in the shallows when one started sinking in the muck. She was alarmed and the group rallied to get her out.

Initially, it didn’t seem like a serious situation. EWPA president Barbara Rubine who was talking with Senator Josh Miller, Fox and others from the park overlook called out to the group. She suggested they use a piece of wood as secure footing and that they work their way to marsh vegetation. This had happened to other volunteers during cleanups. This is not quicksand. One of the group came to the aid of the woman who was stuck, but she too was quickly immobilized. 

Rubine turned to Fox, do they call for help?  Conditions didn’t seem to merit it. The group was helping pull the two to more solid footing and the women appeared to be freeing themselves from the mire. But Rubine was concerned the episode could trigger a response requiring medical attention. It was at that point that Fox set off and Rubine called the rescue, stressing this wasn’t an emergency but that it would be good if an EMT could check on the condition of those involved to be on “the safe side.”

By the time a Cranston fire truck arrived, sirens silent but lights flashing, most of the marsh crew was back on solid ground with some even wading out into the sandy shallows to rinse the black muck, knees down from their legs. The EMT quickly assessed the situation as non-threatening as he talked with members of the group. 

Out of rescue mode, Fox joined the conversation.

Had the fire truck not been there, passing motorists would have assumed this was just a bunch of locals tending a cherished spot to exercise, walk their dog, sit and watch a sunrise or activity at Rhode Island Yacht Club or simply catch the view as they drive by. They would have been right. Whether sharing political views or not, whether young or mature in age and whether fit or not they share a love and appreciation for this cove that is tied to so much of Rhode Island’s history. 

This is the place where colonists brought William Dudingston, captain of the British schooner Gaspee after he was shot as the Gaspee was stuck hopelessly on the shoals of Namquid Point having been lured  there as she chased the colonial packet Hannah. The Gaspee was burned in what has become known as America’s first blow for freedom. That was June 9, 1772. Dudingston survived and went on to command another British ship during the Revolution. None of the 60 or so men who participated in the incident were brought to trial despite the handsome reward tendered by King George.

It was appropriate that a rescue vehicle was present at Saturday’s cleanup to underscore the efforts to preserve the cove. As Rubine tells the story, in 1984 during the administration of former governor Edward DiPrete, the state transferred the park to Cranston for $1. Soon after the EWPA assumed stewardship of the park.

It’s been more than colorful plantings and repairing the rotary garden at the end of Narragansett Boulevard that motorist unfamiliar with the area run into every couple of months. Under Rubine’s direction the EWPA has undertaken major projects including the installation of “coir logs” made from coconut palms that were installed at the base of the salt marsh to mitigate erosion and stabilize the park. Some of the logs were undermined by winter storms and needed to be secured this spring.  As mentioned, the association with the help of Wenley Ferguson, director of habitat restoration at Save the Bay, has worked to control invasive species and restoration of the saltwater marsh.

Theirs is a form of ongoing rescue work that needs our support.

Without it, we could be stuck in the muck and beyond help.

earth day clean-up, clean-up