The next phase of environmental remediation at the Historic Newport Town Spring site will commence Wednesday, September 25. This process, which will include the demolition of the former Coffey’s Gas Station, soil remediation and temporarily capping the site in preparation for the final finish surfaces and capping of the site. Funded in large part by a $250,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the demolition and temporary remediation work will be complete by the end of October.
The Historic Town Spring site is located in the heart of Newport’s colonial core, just southwest of the intersection of Spring and Touro Streets. With the support of numerous individual, foundation and corporate donors, the site was purchased in 2015 to ensure that the property would be preserved as open space, celebrating the history of the town spring on the site as the birthplace of Newport and a landmark to Newport’s role in securing religious freedom in this country.
Once complete, the park will restore the visual linkages between two of Newport’s most important historic sites, Touro Synagogue and the Old Colony House, and its connection to Washington Square will create a contiguous historical green space. Also preserved within the park will be a centuries-old spring box discovered underground at the site during remediation work, an important archaeological site being studied by American and European experts.
From the 1920s through 2015, a gas station operated at the site under a number of owners. The last owner, Neill Coffey, operated a Citgo gas station at this location for 30 years. Upon Mr. Coffey’s retirement, he agreed to sell the spring site to Newport’s Church Community Housing Corporation, the Development Sponsor of the Spring Project. While the demolition the former gas station is required due to its environmental contamination, a study completed by the Newport Historical Society in 2016 will ensure that this aspect of the site’s history is not forgotten.