Here's some background on the organizations and guests we will be profiling. We'd love for you to tune in and send us your questions, comments and feedback:
Washington County Planning Commission:
The purpose of the Washington County Regional Planning Council is to work with municipalities and other stakeholders to:
- Identify effective solutions to regional challenges
- Encourage their implementation
- Realize the shared vision of the nine Washington County municipalities
Our vision for Washington County is a region defined by its rural character, with vibrant village centers, a strong economy, permanently preserved natural areas and farmland, scenic coastline, clean and plentiful water, affordable housing, and protected cultural resources, such that the quality of life is maintained for all residents of Washington County, present and future.
Washington County, Rhode Island (also locally referred to as “South County”) has 130,000 residents distributed throughout nine towns: North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Exeter, Narragansett, Charlestown, Hopkinton, Richmond, Westerly, and New Shoreham. It is a largely undeveloped region with communities ranging from rural farming enclaves to destination beach communities, punctuated by classic New England village centers. The past twenty years have witnessed dramatic growth for Washington County – growth in this county, in fact, has steadily remained three times that of the state’s growth rate for over two decades – and rapid development has begun to change the face of this predominantly rural landscape.
Washington County Regional Planning Council
Faced with growing impacts from rapid growth and sprawl in Washington County, the Washington County Regional Planning Council (WCRPC) was founded in 1992 by then President of the Univeristy of Rhode Island Robert Carothers and Michael Rauh, a Vice Preisdent of a large local bank, with the intent of employing a coordinated approach to more effectively addressing those issues that transcend municipal boundaries.
The WCRPC is the only organization in Rhode Island that works specifically with a municipal government partnership to address regional challenges collectively. The WCRPC's Board of Directors is comprised of one town council member from each of the nine towns within the county, and serves as a unique forum for inter-municipal communication, coordination and cost-sharing. The Council’s overall goal is to integrate local economic development with preservation of unique and valuable natural and cultural resources, such that the quality of life for Washington County residents is maintained, for present and future generations.
The Council also strives to prevent, and in some cases reverse, the negative impacts of unplanned rapid development that have characterized this region’s growth in recent years. To do this, we have identified five key issues on which to focus our work:
- Land Preservation
- Economic Development
- Water Quality
- Affordable Housing
Since its establishment, the WCRPC has met regularly to exchange information and collaborate on joint projects, with technical assistance and generous in-kind support from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant Program and The Washington Trust Company. The WCRPC is also supported by contributions from its nine member municipalities, and the Rhode Island Foundation.
The WCRPC is RI nonprofit corporation that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3). It is governed by a Board of Directors and managed by an Executive Director.
Our region-wide strategy deals with those issues that transcend municipal and political boundaries and are most effectively approached on a regional scale. We approach preservation, infrastructure development, and economic growth as interrelated issues. Our strategy prioritizes the need for communication and cooperation among all nine Washington County municipalities, their citizens, and state elected and appointed officals.