Middletown, RI. – September 15, 2022 – The Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced the retirement of its Executive Director, Charles B. Allott, effective 31 December, 2022. Allott was appointed Executive Director in 2012 and was a founding member of the organization in 1990. He also served as a trustee between 1990-1996 and 2005-2011.

“Chuck has been a tireless advocate for ALT’s mission and work,” said Tom Hockaday, ALT board chair. “Under his strong leadership, ALT has become a widely recognized and deeply respected organization. His legal background and extensive knowledge of Aquidneck Island have been of tremendous benefit, as evidenced by the 25 properties covering 348 acres of land that have been permanently conserved by ALT during his tenure. We are all indebted to him for his commitment to conservation and dedication to ALT.”

ALT is the oldest accredited land trust in Rhode Island. Since 1990, it has conserved 93 properties covering 2,766.07 acres of land on Aquidneck Island, or over 11% of the island’s total acreage. ALT’s board of directors has begun a search for a new Executive Director.

Middletown, RI. – August 31, 2022 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced that Alvaro Londono has been appointed to its board of trustees. Londono is an independent financial advisor and planner. He is a native of Cali, Colombia, and currently lives in Middletown with his wife Amanda and their two children.

Londono attended Portsmouth Abbey School, received a BS in Business Administration from Babson College, and received a Master’s in International Finance and Energy from Columbia University in New York. He was appointed a trustee of ALT in June 2022 and joined its Finance Committee in July. He is also a board member of St. Michael’s School in Newport and has volunteered for numerous other environmental non-profit organizations.

ALT is the oldest accredited land trust in Rhode Island. Since 1990, it has conserved 92 properties covering 2,730 acres of land on Aquidneck Island, or over 11% of the island’s total acreage.

Middletown, RI. – July 27, 2022 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced the conservation of 20.97 acres of land north of Bramans Lane in Portsmouth. The property extends from East Main Road to the north end of Malee Terrace and is adjacent to other conserved land in the Sakonnet Greenway open space corridor. It has forested and scrub-shrub habitat and prime farm soils.

The multi-party deal included two separate parcels which were sold and merged into a new parcel, purchased by Derek Boudreau and Tiffanie Starr. ALT placed a permanent conservation easement on the 20.97 acres of land, which will remain private and be used for farming and wildlife habitat. A half-acre outzone on the property will allow for a future single-family home with the remaining land in conservation.

“This is an exciting success story,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director. “There were many moving parts but we had very committed partners and a terrific shared goal. We are indebted to the Nelson family, who sold their land to ALT at a bargain sale price, and to the Brooks family, who sold the development rights on their property at a bargain sale price. We are also very grateful to the new owners, Derek Boudreau and Tiffanie Starr, who are committed supporters of land conservation and who specifically wanted to purchase a conserved property. All of these parties worked together to protect this land, which will remain as habitat, scenic open space, and farmland.”

In 2021, ALT reached an agreement with the Nelson family, executors of the Estate of Helen Jones, the deeded owner, on 15.4 acres of the land, which was historically farmed but has remained mostly natural habitat for the last two decades. “Helen and Skip Jones were very involved in the community and actually worked on the 1990 Portsmouth Comprehensive Plan that led to the formation of the Aquidneck Land Trust,” said Allott. “We appreciate the family’s commitment to conservation and their willingness to permanently protect this land.”

After the Nelson agreement was in place, ALT contacted neighbors Bob and Judy Brooks, who agreed to conserve 5.57 acres of their primarily forested land, adjacent to the Jones property. “Chuck Allott initially contacted us with an interest to combine our land with an abutting parcel to be conserved by the land trust,” said the Brooks. “We treasure open space and we both agreed conservation would be the best use for the land in perpetuity.”

The land trust was simultaneously in discussions with Derek Boudreau and Tiffanie Starr, a couple interested in purchasing conserved land to live on and manage. Boudreau and Starr contributed funds for fee simple acquisition of the land, subject to ALT’s easement. The two parcels owned by the Jones Estate and Brooks family were merged into a single lot, creating the 20.97-acre conserved property. “We were searching for land that could be enjoyed, yet conserved,” said Boudreau. “With each visit to the island there seemed to be fewer and fewer fields, meadows, and green space. Given the island’s rich traditions of rural land, agriculture, and natural habitat, we felt an increasing sense of urgency to act.” Co-owner Tiffanie Starr noted that conserved land “offsets the impact on water resources from other developments, preserves scenic landscapes and wildlife habitat, and contributes to the overall health of the local ecosystems. We hope that in a small way, we have contributed to maintaining the natural beauty of the island.”

“The generosity of the original land owners and the enthusiasm and commitment of the new owners have resulted in a large tract of land conserved at a bargain sale price,” said Allott. “We are grateful to all parties involved and to our ALT supporters, who contributed to save this land. Together, these generous parties have ensured the permanent conservation of a very significant piece of land.”

Middletown, RI. – May 10, 2022 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has awarded ten grants totaling $12,427 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant program, the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $465 to $2,000.

Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. It has awarded grants each year since its founding, distributing over $159,000 in total. A committee of ALT volunteers and board members determines the awards.

“We love to see the creative and thoughtful projects that neighborhood groups and small non-profits propose each year,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director. “For 23 years, our modest grants have had an outsized impact on beautifying our community and installing gardens, landscaping, and other public enhancements. This year’s awardees continue the Merritt Fund tradition of connecting people to nature and improving the island for everyone.”

Awards were given to the following applicants:

  • Aquidneck Community Table: repairs to Great Friends Garden
  • Common Fence Point Improvement Association: rain garden
  • God’s Community Garden: aerobic compost bin and herb garden
  • Island Youth Lacrosse: trees for recreational fields
  • John Clarke Senior Living: raised garden beds
  • Newport Boys & Girls Club: creation of an edible garden
  • Newport Mental Health: pollinator garden and ADA garden
  • Newport Tree Conservancy: 25 trees at Miantonomi Park
  • Norman Bird Sanctuary: improvements to Mabel’s Garden
  • Old Fort Road pocket park: replace invasive plants with native species

 
Information on the 2023 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February 2023.

Middletown, RI. – April 20, 2022 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced the conservation of 8.64 acres of farmland in Middletown. The property has frontage on East Main Road and is also visible looking north from Oliphant Lane, making it part of a scenic view corridor from East Main Road. It has USDA prime farmland soil and is within the drinking supply watershed.

The land trust purchased the land from the Berry Family, who had previously leased it to Rhode Island Nurseries for farming. It has lain fallow for several years but ALT plans to resume leasing it as farmland in the future. The farm abuts other agricultural land on its southwest side, with residential areas to its north and west.

“We are very grateful to the Berry family for working with ALT to permanently conserve this important property,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “Like most land on Aquidneck Island, this property is zoned for residential development. Thanks to the Barry family’s commitment to conservation, it is now protected in perpetuity and will remain open space and farmland.”

Middletown, RI. – April 14, 2022 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced that three new board members have been appointed to its board of trustees. Two of the trustees, Stephen B. Huttler and Liz Taber Kobylak, were appointed at the organization’s annual meeting, held February 3, 2022. The third trustee, Sandra Craig, was appointed in March 2022.

Stephen Huttler is a senior partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in Washington, D.C. He is a native of Middletown and lives there with his wife, Jennie. Huttler is a member of the board of trustees of The Preservation Society of Newport County and the Touro Synagogue Foundation. He is vice chairman of the board of Newport Classical.

Liz Taber Kobylak, a licensed real estate broker and a native Newporter, is a technology consultant and partner with Envision Business Consultants LLC. She is a member of the Newport Garden Club and lives in Middletown with her husband, Joe Kobylak.

Sandra Craig is a retired attorney who is active in conservation, education, and the arts. She is a native New Yorker and lives seasonally in Middletown with her husband, Grenville. Sandra is a trustee of the American University in Paris, the Photography Collection Preservation Project, and St. Stephen’s School in Rome. She was past board chair of the Newport Art Museum.

Middletown, RI. – March 23, 2022 – ALT announces the conservation of a 14.73-acre Middletown property located on Green End Avenue between Vaucluse and Howland Avenues. The property, now known as Green End Preserve, features upland meadow habitat and prime soils on half of its area. The uplands roll down to a large wetland area surrounding a portion of Little Creek, a 3-mile stream that empties into the Sakonnet River. Green End Preserve is contiguous to other ALT-conserved land and is part of a scenic viewscape from Green End Avenue. Its upland and wetland riparian area provide habitat for foraging and nesting by birds, amphibians, insects, and mammals.

Newport homebuilder Mark Horan purchased the property in 2019 with plans to build between four and seven homes there. ALT approached Horan in 2020, eventually reaching a deal to purchase the property from him and conserve it in perpetuity. “We appreciate Mr. Horan’s willingness to work with us to protect this important Aquidneck Island property,” said Charles Allott, ALT Executive Director. “Thanks to generous donations from ALT supporters, we’ve added nearly 15 acres of high conservation value land to the growing list of conserved properties on the island.”

ALT has conserved 90 properties totaling 2,706 acres since 1990, with a focus on farmland, forestland, fields, wildlife habitat, and conservation within Aquidneck Island’s drinking supply watersheds and along ponds, rivers, and creeks. The organization also prioritizes land used for recreational purposes; it has conserved 13 miles of free walking trails on the island and numerous public access properties.

Middletown, RI. – February 15, 2022 – ALT is now accepting applications for grants from the Merritt Neighborhood Fund, an endowed fund which seeks to support the preservation of small parks, community gardens, and other natural spaces on Aquidneck Island. Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. Grants typically range from $250 to $2,500.

“Merritt grants help our community to improve and beautify many of the special shared places on our island,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “The fund supports projects that enrich the lives of residents and help us all feel closer to nature. Collectively, the impact of these projects is tremendous and reflects our desire to connect people to the land around them.”

The projects funded last year were: Aquidneck Community Table (improvements to the Food Forest); Bike Newport (solar water pump at community gardens); Newport Boys & Girls Club (restoration of exterior landscaping); Butts Hill Fort Restoration/Portsmouth Historical Society (removal of vegetation at historic site); Daffodillion (daffodil bulbs); Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (garden beds at Portsmouth Aginnovation); God’s Community Garden (garden supplies and improvements); Norman Bird Sanctuary (vegetable garden improvements); Newport Tree Conservancy (plant 30 trees at Miantonomi Park); The Pennfield School (raised bed gardens for the outdoor classroom); Portsmouth Garden Club (improvements to three public gardens); St. John the Evangelist Church (landscaping); Town of Middletown (bike racks for public beaches). The grants totaled $18,000 in 2021.

Applications for 2022 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grants may be found on the ALT website (https://ailt.org/our-work/merritt-fund/). Applications must be received by Monday, April 4, 2022. Award decisions will be announced in mid-May.

Middletown, RI – February 10, 2022 – ALT has announced 25 student winners in the 2021 ALT Art & Writing Contest, held annually to promote the importance and value of a healthy environment. Students at Aquidneck Island schools were invited to enter artwork of their favorite local vista, or written work in prose or poetry form describing the same. The winners were announced at the land trust’s annual meeting on February 3, which is available to view on the ALT website.

“These wonderful entries express the appreciation that the next generation has for the beauty of Aquidneck Island,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director. “They recognize the importance that open space has in their day-to-day lives, and it reminds all of us how special our island home is.”

Art entries were judged by a panel that included Norah Dietrich, Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum; Erik Greenburg, Director of Museums at the Newport Restoration Foundation; Susan Woythaler, artist and musician; and Jonathan Gewirz, ALT board member. Written entries were judged by Annie Sherman Luke, writer; Katherine Gagliano, Amplify Marketing; Beezie Bickford, St. George’s School; and Jonathan Gewirz, ALT board member. The contest was underwritten by a grant from local design/build firm Sixteen on Center.

Art winners in the kindergarten through grade four category are Gabrielle Silvia, first place (Melville Elementary School), Cohen Clarkson, second place (All Saints Academy), Noah Adams, third place (Hathaway Elementary School). Honorable mentions were awarded to Caitrin McCoy (Melville Elementary School) and Zoe Kutsaftis (All Saints Academy.) Winners in the grade five through grade eight category are Hannah Lee, first place (The Pennfield School), Allison Schlesinger, second place (Portsmouth Middle School), and Willow Foregger, third place (The Pennfield School). Honorable mentions were awarded to Brody Cimaglia (The Pennfield School), and Timothée Delaveau (Gaudet Middle School). Winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category were all from Portsmouth High School: Grace Van Petten, first place, Clara Alcolea, second place, Tatum Horley, third place, and Zoe Vaspol, honorable mention.

Writing winners in the kindergarten through grade four category are all from Melville Elementary School: Linnea Ready, first place, Evelyn Munji, second place, Mia Gilling, third place, Abrahm Aubuchon, honorable mention, and Liam DeArruda, honorable mention. Winners in the grade five through eight category are Daisy Bistline (The Pennfield School), Adam Conheeny (The Pennfield School), and Mia Rocco (Portsmouth resident). Winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category are all from Middletown High School: Chloe Christy, first place, Margaret MacKechnie, second place, and Caitlin Brett, third place.

Winners receive cash prizes and a household membership to ALT. The schools of each first-place winner receive a grant to support their environmental science curricula. “We are very grateful to Sixteen on Center for their generosity and commitment to environmental education,” said Allott. “We also appreciate the support of parents and teachers, who understand the importance of protecting the island’s natural beauty and unique environment.”

Middletown, RI. – January 7, 2022 – ALT announces that it has completed its campaign to conserve a 7.56-acre section of historic Glen Farm. The property, located on Glen Farm Road in Portsmouth, has significant conservation values and could have been subdivided into as many as eight house lots. Over 260 individuals, businesses, and foundations contributed $472,000 to permanently conserve the land, which had been part of the 500-acre Taylor estate in the late nineteenth century. A grant of $200,000 from the State of Rhode Island’s open space bond program, approved by state voters as part of the green economy bond, provided key funding.

The property is a prime parcel of farmland, currently used for grazing Glen Farm Stables horses. In addition to its use as pasture, it provides wildlife habitat and is contiguous to a creek that drains into the Sakonnet River, 500 feet north of Sandy Point Beach. Conserving the land will protect the creek and the beach from pollutants common to developed land, such as fertilizers and pesticides. The site is surrounded by a mix of protected and unprotected farmland, parks, trails and forestland, and is part of an iconic view corridor from East Main Road to the Sakonnet River. A short walking path around the perimeter of the pasture is expected to open in late 2022 after ALT has completed necessary infrastructure.

“This property is part of a treasured and historic landscape,” said Chuck Allott, ALT’s Executive Director. “We are very grateful to the owners for their commitment to conservation and to all those who contributed to this important campaign.”

“The area around The Glen is special to our family and we are pleased that we could help protect it,” said Steve Johnson, one of the owners. Johnson and his wife, Irene, daughter Meredith Spitalnik, and son-in-law Jason Spitalnik, worked with ALT to save the land, selling the development rights at a significant discount to ensure its protection. Both couples live in Portsmouth. “The open spaces around Glen Manor are quite special and need to be preserved,” said Jason Spitalnik. “Meredith and I are glad we can be a part of making that happen, with ALT’s help.”