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Leaf Home arrow The News arrow North East News arrow Narragansett Indian tribe seeks surplus Navy land on Aquidneck Island
Narragansett Indian tribe seeks surplus Navy land on Aquidneck Island
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 June 2014

Narragansett Indian tribe seeks surplus Navy land on Aquidneck Island
June 04, 2014
By Paul Grimaldi

 NEWPORT, R.I. — The Narragansett Indian tribe has asked the federal government to transfer to its possession surplus Navy land — including the U.S. Naval Hospital — on Aquidneck Island, the Providence Journal has learned.

The request, made in April through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, threatens to derail years of planning by the island communities of Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth, to redevelop some of the acreage once actively used by the Navy.

“It was a little bit of a surprise,” said Jane Howington, the Newport City Manager. “We were kind of at the 11th hour when the BIA decided to put in a claim.”

Howington will discuss the issues raised by the Narragansetts’ application, next week with the City Council. That discussion will happen in executive session.

According to a memo Howington sent to councilors June 3, the Navy has rejected the city’s efforts to redevelop the hospital property through a process known as economic development conveyance.

That decision, coupled with moves by the three communities to separate their efforts in regards to the Navy land, opened an avenue for the Narragansetts, Howington said.

According to that June 3 memo, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, “strongly urged both Middletown and Newport to be aggressive in their efforts to purchase these parcels.”

It’s unknown at this juncture which parcels Middletown and Portsmouth want to purchase.

“If the City declines purchase of the Navy hospital property, there is a very strong likelihood it will be transferred to the BIA,” Howington states in her memo.

Matthew Thomas, chief sachem of the Narragansett tribe, has yet to return a phone call made today to the tribal office in Charlestown.


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