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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: May 21, 2012
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

Pavilion Dedicated to State Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien, Who Lost His Life in the Line of Duty at East Matunuck in 1954

PROVIDENCE - Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit today joined Governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, RI State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell, and others at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new $4.5 million energy-efficient pavilion at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown. The modern, handicap-accessible facility has separate bathhouse and concession buildings and replaces a masonry bath house that was built in 1978.

"This environmentally friendly new pavilion at East Matunuck State Beach is a great example of the state's commitment to energy conservation and sustainability, and a fitting tribute to the late State Police Trooper Daniel O'Brien for his dedicated service to the people of Rhode Island," said Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The 1,938 square-foot bathhouse features hot showers, large and family-style restrooms and changing stalls. The 1,620 square-foot concession building includes office space, a first aid room, and a concession stand. Public access and use of the facility are enhanced by an expanded deck area that features open and covered shade areas. The pavilion also includes a new lifeguard tower, two ramps to access the beach, and one ramp to access the parking area. Two cold shower areas are located along the ramps that run from the beach to the bathhouse.

"Rhode Island has some of the most spectacular beaches that can be found anywhere," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Our world-class, state-of-the-art facilities are among the state's major tourist attractions and generate billions of dollars for the local and state economy every year. We invite people of all ages and physical abilities to visit East Matunuck State Beach and our magnificent new pavilion and experience the joy of Beautiful Rhode Island."

Much of the energy the new bathhouse uses for lighting, exhaust and circulation fans, and hot water for showers and flushing toilets is provided on-site by a 10 kW wind turbine and roof-mounted solar panels. The solar panels are expected to generate over 21,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, and the wind turbine is expected to generate 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The wind turbine and solar systems at this facility will save the State $5,200 per year in energy costs. Other environmentally-friendly features of the new facility include new composting toilets, waterless urinals, a solar hot water system for the concession stand, and extensive use of natural daylight and ventilation.

"This new pavilion, which is now more family-friendly and accessible to all, is a fitting tribute to Trooper O'Brien, who gave his life in service to others. I was pleased to help secure $475,000 in federal funding from National Park Service Land and Water Conservation funds for this project. Beachgoers will really appreciate the new bathrooms, concession stand, and expanded deck, and everyone benefits from the long-term energy savings. This has always been a wonderful beach and these new state-of-the-art facilities make it even more special," said Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, which oversees National Park Service funding.

"This new energy-efficient facility can be enjoyed by all Rhode Islanders, including those with disabilities," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "By meeting green energy standards, this building honors the natural environment of one of our state's great beaches, and will enhance the summer experience for Rhode Islanders and tourists visiting our state."

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said, "Rhode Island's beaches are one of our state's greatest assets, and the new pavilion at East Matunuck State Beach allows visitors to enjoy the amenities it offers while utilizing state of the art green technology. It is a fitting tribute that the pavilion be re-dedicated to Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien, who gave his life while protecting others. We can all remember the sacrifice he made while enjoying the beauty of East Matunuck State Beach."

Facility Dedicated in Honor of Fallen State Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien

The new East Matunuck State Beach pavilion, as was the former beach pavilion, was dedicated in honor of RI State Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien at today's event. On August 31, 1954, Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien, while in the performance of his duty, was drowned in East Matunuck while engaged in the rescue of persons endangered by the raging sea overflow caused by Hurricane Carol. Trooper O'Brien lost his life at Succotash Road in East Matunuck only a few minutes after he had warned two residents to leave the area. His cruiser was crippled by rapidly rising water. He radioed Hope Valley Barracks that he had abandoned the car and would be walking to higher ground. While helping a citizen, a large wave separated the two men; a witness stated that he had seen Trooper O'Brien some 30 feet away surrounded by debris. Trooper O'Brien died upholding the highest traditions of the Rhode Island State Police, and was posthumously awarded the State Police Service ribbon.

Colonel O'Donnell stated, "The men and women of the Rhode Island State Police are honored that the State of Rhode Island is re-dedicating the East Matunuck State Police Pavilion in memory of Trooper Daniel L. O'Brien, who was tragically killed while rescuing area residents during Hurricane Carol."

Trooper O'Brien's sister, Lois Cheney, gave brief remarks at the dedication ceremony, saying "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

The East Matunuck State Beach project is the third alternative energy wind project to be completed by DEM in Rhode Island state parks and beaches over the past two years. In May 2010, DEM unveiled the first wind turbine at Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett. That 10 kW wind turbine has been very well received by beachgoers and has supplied over 21,000 kilowatt hours of electricity to the beach pavilion in the first 18 months of operation. A 100 kW wind turbine was installed at Fishermen's Memorial State Park and Campground in Narragansett last fall; to date this turbine has generated 106,777 kilowatt hours of electricity in its first seven months of operation.

In addition to the solar panels at East Matunuck State Beach, the Department has installed solar panels at eight other DEM facilities throughout the state with funding from a $1.5 million federal ARRA grant awarded through the RI Office of Energy Resources. The solar panels are designed to turn the energy from the sun into electricity that will be used to offset the energy needs at the state facilities.

DEM has installed a web-based "dashboard" reporting system at (click on live sites, then public sites and scroll down to RIDEM to see the listing of RIDEM sites.) This website allows the public to track the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels and the wind turbines at the Lafayette Fish Hatchery, Prudence Island Research Reserve; it will go "live" soon for East Matunuck, Fisherman's Memorial State Campground, Dawley Park, Burlingame State Park, Misquamicut Beach, and Scarborough Beach. A separate website at will monitor and display the energy produced from the three wind turbines; that website will be up and running soon. Using this system, the general public, students, and other interested parties can see data on the renewable energy that is being produced at DEM-owned facilities.

The new East Matunuck State Beach facility was designed by a team led by Burgin Lambert Architects of Newport. In addition, the design team includes Scituate Surveys, Blue Sky Engineering, Katherine Field Associates, Wil Yoder, DEM's Divisions of Planning & Development and Parks & Recreation, Robert Wilkinson, and Robert McClanaghan. Pezzuco Construction, Inc. of Cranston was awarded the construction contract.

Funding for the $4.5 million project comes from a combination of state funds, settlement funds, and federal stimulus grants through the RI Office of Energy Resources. $2.2 million is from state bond funds, $1.7 million from RI capital funds, $475,000 is from National Park Service Land and Water Conservation Funds, $176,000 is from federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds, and $8,500 is being provided from a multi-state settlement agreement with American Electric Power Service for federal Clean Air Act violations.


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