Department of Environmental Management plans to demolish ‘The Bells’ in Newport

"The Bells" at Brenton Point State Park in Newport is seen taped off, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (WLNE)

NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) — A day after four boys were injured in a roof collapse in Newport, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said it intends to demolish the iconic building.

The incident happened just before 4 p.m. Monday at Brenton Point State Park at “The Bells” — which has been abandoned for decades.

Mike Healey, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Management, told ABC 6 News Tuesday that they’re working with the Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to get the building taken down.

“It will cost so much money to restore it,” said Healey. “It will cost more than a $1 million to just restore it — even just structurally. It will cost well more than $2 million to restore it completely.”

Healey said the money that the General Assembly delegates to the Department of Environmental Management to run parks and beaches is mainly used for recreation purposes.

“That’s what people want to use the parks for,” he said. “So, in other words, we don’t have that kind of money to restore [a] historic building.”

Healey said the Department of Environmental Management is working with the Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to go through a list — “kind of inventory the historical aspects of that structure to make sure that it is recorded for posterity.”

While it’s not solely up to the Department of Environmental Management to tear down “The Bells,” Healey said they have a guidance letter from the historical preservation about the things they need to do to get it ready to the “point where we will be able to put a bid out for a demolition contractor.”

Monday, one of the boys was on top of the roof of the dilapidated building when it collapsed and he came down with a “big junk of concrete” — landing on two of the other boys.

A 15-year-old and 16-year-old were taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital. The third boy, a 12-year-old, was flown to Rhode Island Hospital.

Healey said a fourth boy — another 12-year-old — was treated and released at the scene.

He added that there are “no trespassing” signs and a fence around the property that was installed more than 10 years ago.

Since the collapse, Healey said they’ve added security tape around the building.

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