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Neighborhood News

East Side Monthly community news for July

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Neighborhood News is a space that East Side Monthly makes available to community organizations free of charge. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of this publication.


Waterman Street Dog Park

Waterman Street Dog Park Nears Completion

With community support continuing to pour in, the Waterman Street Dog Park is nearing completion. The Dog Park Association is more than 80% of the way towards the $25,000 fundraising goal the Parks Department requested. The site has been transformed. Once clogged with brambles and decades of accumulated debris, the park is beginning to take shape. The Earth Day cleanups were a big success – thanks to all the great volunteers who came out to help! The Dog Park Association will be tabling at the Lippitt Park Farmers’ Market on June 27 and July 18.  Come by and say hello!

Waterman Street Dog Park Association, 19 Luzon Ave., Providence, RI 02906.  watermanstdogpark@gmail.comwatermanstdogpark.org-Sam Bell


Summit Neighborhood Association

Annual Meeting Elects Board, Gets Social

Almost 60 people attended the annual meeting of the Summit Neighborhood Association on May 20 to get updates from its officers plus elected officials and public servants as well as enjoy a social evening with other residents.

Gathering at 7pm in the main dining area of the Highlands on the East Side, the audience, sipping wine and beer and munching on pizza as well as Highlands-supplied desserts, was welcomed by SNA President Dean Weinberg, who then quickly introduced two speakers who had commitments elsewhere.

First, Wendy Nilsson, the recently named director of the Providence Parks + Recreation Department, described her excitement of her new post and said she intended to work with the people of the neighborhoods, adding that she was already familiar with the efforts of SNA to develop community gardens in the Summit Avenue Park and “tot lot” playground as part of its refurbishment.

Second, state Senator Gayle Goldin spoke of her efforts in the General Assembly, in cooperation with Summit’s Representative Aaron Regunberg, who said he agreed with her, to raise the minimum wage so workers could contribute to an economic revitalization of the city, an objective she cited as vital to the quality of life of residents.

Regunberg returned to the floor, and in response to a question, said he generally is cautious about the proposal for a new stadium, but is keeping an open mind and listening to his constituents.

The main business event of the evening, the election of a new SNA board of directors, was conducted by Secretary Thomas Schmeling. The following officers were approved by a unanimous voice vote: Weinberg, president; Schmeling, secretary; Kerry Kohring, vice president; and Vishal Jain, treasurer. Re-elected as directors were Jim Barfoot, Grant Dulgarian, Anneliese Greenier, Daniel MacLellan, Michael McGlynn, Britt Page, Sheila Perlow and Sharon Lee Waldman. New directors approved were Erik Christiansen, Lee Clasper-Torch, Emily Spitzman, Mark Tracy and Karina Holyoak Wood.

Providence Police Captain George Stamatakos concluded the presentation part of the meeting with an update on the string of burglaries and break-ins around the neighborhood, explaining how a few known juveniles have been arrested but released by the courts numerous times. Answering questions from the audience, he urged residents to take common-sense precautions to deter crime, especially not having open doors or windows and never leaving anything in parked cars.

Some audience members stayed afterwards to chat with the speakers and to have a last glass of wine or a pastry delight.

Dirty Dozen to Highlight Music Festival

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a traditional New Orleans jazz group that has revolutionized that style by incorporating funk and bebop, is to be the headliner at this year’s Summit Neighborhood Association’s music festival.

The ensemble, which was organized in 1977, will be the main attraction at the August 15 extravaganza in Lippitt Park, at the intersection of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard. The other groups playing are still being lined up, but the music is scheduled to start at 1pm and usually goes until after 5pm.

A youth music program in New Orleans in the 1970s was the origin of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, with the goal of providing young people with a positive outlet for their energies.

The band achieved considerable local popularity and transformed itself into a professional outfit known as the Hurricane Brass Band. As it developed a repertoire, the musicians freely incorporated bebop tunes and jazz standards, as well as lighthearted pieces such as The Flintstones theme song. The band then called itself the Original Sixth Ward Dirty Dozen, to show their strong connection to the Tremé neighborhood and the local social club scene, as represented by the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club.

In 1980, the group made its first recording as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and its fame spread. Newport jazz promoter George Wein booked them on a European tour in 1984, they played with Dizzy Gillespie and Branford Marsalis and continued to make albums. They appear on the 2005 benefit album A Celebration of New Orleans Music to Benefit MusiCares Hurricane Relief 2005, with the song “Mardi Gras In New Orleans.”

The Dirty Dozen’s uniqueness is widely credited with sparking a resurgence of New Orleans’ brass band music, both in the city and nationwide, and the band will bring that sound to Providence.

In addition to the bands, a beer garden is planned, as are activities for kids and a host of vendors and food trucks. Last year there was also a painting wall for unlimited expression. The Hope Street Farmers Market will be held in the morning to add to the merriment.

Residents Invited to Directors Meetings

The SNA board of directors meets at 7pm on the third Monday of every month in the cafeteria of Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Ave. The sessions are open and neighborhood residents are encouraged to attend. Minutes of all board meetings are posted on the SNA website at www.sna.providence. ri.us under “Meetings and Agendas.”

Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence RI 02940. 489-7078, www.sna.providence.ri.us, sna@sna.providence.ri.us. –Kerry Kohring


Fox Point Neighborhood Association

Events this Month

FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm Monday, July 13 at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Community Room, 455 Wickenden Street.

FPNA Says No to Stadium Deal

The Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) strongly opposes plans by the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox to locate a stadium on the I-195 Parcel land. Below is a letter sent to Governor Gina Raimondo back in early May.

May 8, 2015

Governor Gina Raimondo
Office of the Governor
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903

Re: Opposition to Locating a PawSox Stadium on I-195 Parcels

Dear Governor Raimondo,

The Fox Point Neighborhood Association, FPNA, strongly opposes plans by the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox to locate a stadium on the I-195 parcel land. We believe the private enterprise offers little return on the investment for our economy. Rather than increasing retail business, this attraction would divert it from existing enterprises. We also believe it would create traffic bottlenecks and countless crowd control issues demanding police details in our business area and nearby residential neighborhoods. The garage plans will not mitigate this issue.

As we recall, the Federal Highway Administration mandated the development of the park space on some of the I-195 parcels because Providence is lacking in green space. FPNA board members have been attending public meetings on this new park space and how it will blend with commercial developments in the I-195 Development District. Innovative technologies and biotech industries are better goals for the use of 195 parcels than a minor league baseball field that offers unreliable attendance figures and lower wage paying jobs.

This is not the first time that the quality of life in Fox Point has been threatened by what was thought might be good development for the city and business. In the early years of 2000 there was a big effort to turn South Water Street into an extensive entertainment district with several large nightclubs joining the small waterfront bars. The noise, crowds and raucous behavior that disturbed the neighborhood eventually brought the city to close the large establishments.

Several years ago, Fox Point residents were up in arms over the increased noise from the newly elevated highway and the I-195 Bridge. After first denying the problem, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RIDOT, finally tested and confirmed the heightened noise’s existence. They then took steps to correct it. Some of these same residents can only imagine the level of noise that would come from the stadium with a prevailing southwestern wind. And we thought the previous highway noise was bad!

This proposal is an example of poor city planning. It would be better to use the stadium as a seed to encourage development of vacant lands, such as the Victory Plating area. Instead, the owners would like to co-opt prime riverfront land, casting aside all previously supported ideas for a public river front walk with parks that could link together our East and West Sides again. The area in question is too tight for intended crowds and the spillover would very negatively impact the historic residential areas of Fox Point and College Hill with noise, light pollution and overflow parking.

Many residents fear that Fox Point’s future, as a quiet, historic urban residential community will be ruined. They predict plummeting real estate prices followed by lowered assessments for tax purposes. The tax benefits being sought by the new owners of the PawSox would come on the backs of residents, leaving little hope for property tax relief for the overburdened East Side resident. The thought of the taxpayer having to bear the burden for someone else’s tax break is particularly unfair, especially after the 38 Studio debacle. Rhode Island cannot continue to function and thrive under such misguided scenarios.

Our opposition to the proposal is not anti-baseball or entertainment; rather, we choose to be pro-development of business and economy. No one likes the idea of the PawSox leaving Rhode Island, but a better plan must be worked out. This proposal is a boon for the developers and owners, but a big loss for the future economy and quality of life for the Providence residents. We urge you to consider our protest and rethink the proposal carefully.

Sincerely,

Daisy Schnepel,

FPNA Vice President

Cc: Mayor Gorge Elorza

Councilman Seth Yurdin

Representative Chris Blazejewski

Senator Gayle Goldin

Fox Point Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 603177, Providence, RI 02906. 270-7121, www.fpna.net, fpna@cox.net-John Rousseau


Blackstone Parks Conservancy

A New Day in Providence Parks

Working with former Providence Department of Parks and Recreation and Superintendent Bob McMahon, the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) has brought about many positive changes in the Blackstone parks. Now, a new superintendent – Wendy Nilsson – who worked closely with McMahon as head of a volunteer park neighbors’ support group, promises to continue this work.

The new leadership began at a run this spring with innovations made possible by the hiring of a supervisor of park improvements, Brian Byrnes, from Yardworks, a valuable addition to a department long starved of personnel. Brynes is working with the Conservancy on its new Best Management Practices (BMPs). Eventually each of the city’s 112 parks will have their own BMPs.

The Conservation District, where the BPC seeks to restore and protect the natural environment, is unique but for one sister park: Neutakonkanut Hill. For instance, the BPC is experimenting with not mowing certain areas such as the lawn on Parkside. Suspending mowing the last two years has resulted in considerable revegetation and ended an erosion problem that had sent sand onto the intersection at Angell and Parkside as long as people can remember.

As the heart and brains behind the Providence Partnership for Parks, Wendy Nilsson spent several years galvanizing neighborhood park groups, awakening citizens to the potential of parks and finding tools for improving these places. She is famous for mobilizing human and fiscal resources – especially useful in times of reduced funding.

Oh to be a Winter Moth!

As many have noticed, winter moths have devoured even more tree leaves this year than their parents did in 2014. And the Blackstone Parks on the Boulevard and beside the Seekonk River have been hit especially hard. What sounded like rain in the Blackstone woods in May was actually the sound of tiny caterpillars chomping their way through trees and some bushes.

From the caterpillars’ perspective, life, though short, is great. They swing from twig to twig on long silken ropes to munch at will on an ample food supply, troubled by few predators, a state of affairs that is likely to remain for several years to come.

Eventually, however, there is hope for Rhode Island trees in the form of a parasitic fly, Cyzenis albicans, which has begun to turn around the severe infestation in Massachusetts.

Coming out of work at UMass Amherst, the fly was introduced to the Ocean State for the first time in 2011 at Goddard Park. It will be a few years until we begin to see a turnaround, says entomologist Heather Faubert at the University of Rhode Island (URI), and it will happen first at Goddard.

This year flies were released in Lincoln Woods and Little Compton, which brought the number of sites in RI to seven. “We are lucky to have them,” says Faubert, who manages the program for the state. Assembling the flies is very tedious – a ”labor of love.”

Every year UMass sends a man to British Columbia for six weeks to collect mature winter moth larvae, which all look the same. Then they are brought back to pupate in a lab. Moths will emerge from any that were not ‘parisitized’ and be disposed of. Next spring, flies will emerge from any winter moth larvae that were invaded by the fly, and later released in selected places.

The only effective insecticide that is Community Neighborhood News Blackstone Parks continue to improve with community support benign to beneficial insects has to be applied in March to be effective against the winter moth larvae. City Forester Doug Still and Blackstone Parks Conservancy volunteers are inspecting the Boulevard trees to assess damage, and if funds can be raised, the City may spray Boulevard trees next year. Unfortunately, spraying is impractical for woodlands.

Events – For Boulevard concerts, please check our website. For Children: July 9: Joe’s Backyard Band, Blackstone Park; July 16: Lindsey Meehan, Gladys Potter Park; July 23: TBA, Paterson Park; July 30: Jen Romanat, Gladys Potter Park.

Kindly send your East Side Marketplace receipts to Blackstone Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014, www.Blackstoneparksconservancy.org 
-Jane Peterson


Wayland Square

Neighborhood Discussion Group at Books on the Square

Monthly Meetings

Wednesdays from 7 to 8:45pm, June 24 and July 22, Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street at Elmgrove, next to CVS. Free and open to all.

Although no agenda or speakers for our June 24 meeting had been set at press-time for this column, one major topic (barring some major intervening team or govenrment decision) is likely to be the Pawtucked Red Sox baseball stadium proposed for Providence. That subject was also discussed informally at our May 27 meeting.

Tri-Park Concert Series

For a number of years, the City of Providence and local groups of neighbors have collaborated in a series of free public outdoor summer concerts at local parks, such as the opera recitals at DePasquale Square on Federal Hill.

On the East Side, many of these summer concert series or festivals are held at the Brown Street Park (behind Hope High School), the Blackstone Trolley Shelter (near Swan Point Cemetery), Lippitt Park (between the northern tips of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard) and India Point Park (south of Wickenden Street).

This summer, the park groups around Wayland Square are cooperating in their first “Tri-Park” concert series for all ages, rotating between Gladys Potter Park on Humboldt Avenue below Wayland, Paterson Street Park on the inland edge of Blackstone Woods, and Blackstone Field, on River Road and Angell, facing the Narragansett (formerly Brown) Boat House.

While all of the performers had not been confirmed by press-time, here’s the tentative schedule for July and August:

Blackstone Field

Thursday, July 9, 7:30pm – Joe’s Backyard Band

Wednesday, August 20, 7pm – the Jazz Quintet of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music School.

Gladys Potter Park

Thursday, July 16, 5pm – Lindsay Meehan

Thursday, July 30, 5pm – Jen Romanat

Tuesday, August 11, 5pm – Rock-a-Baby

Paterson Park (no artists yet confirmed)

5pm on Thursdays, July 30 and August 6.

Other Neighborhood Issues

Besides the concert series and the baseball stadium proposal, our May 27 meeting discussed a number of other local topics, none of which has yet reached any reportable resolution or milestone.

Among them were road repair, utility pipe replacement, the still-closed block of shops on Wayland at Medway, and progress on building the Waterman Street Dog Park.

More Information

Check our Yahoo! Group’s public message board (below) to stay abreast of current local events and issues. Or join the group to receive regular announcements by e-mail, including select notices of neighborhood meetings, civic affairs and cultural events. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandsquare – David Kolsky


College Hill Neighborhood Association

Plans For Improvements on Prospect Terrace Moving Forward

The first organizational meeting (and party) on plans to create a public-private initiative to improve the appearance of the Prospect Terrace is scheduled to be on Wednesday, June 16 from 6-8pm in the park. Initial thoughts will be discussed and public input will be more than welcome. There willl be food and nonalcoholic beverages and a wonderful opportunity to chat with your neighbors as we consider ways to restore some luster to this crown jewel of the city. Additional meetings will be held as this exciting new partnership with the city develops. We encourage anyone interested to please get involved since there is much that needs to be done.

Stadium Plans Remain in Flux

While the CHNA is relieved that the owners of the PawSox are no longer insisting the State needs to come to decision on a new park as part of his year’s General Assembly session that runs to the end of June, we, like most city residents, have major reservations about the present plan as proposed. We are concerned with the economics as currently presented, the site location as well as lighting, traffic and congestion issues. We hope to be included, along with other neighborhood organizations, as discussions continue to evolve. Many of our board members have been regularly monitoring the open meetings that have been held on the East Side and in the Jewelry District.

New Stop Signs

There is a stop sign missing on Thayer Street near the new 257 Thayer building that represents a dangerous situation for both pedestrians and vehicles. The CHNA is in the process of requesting both a new sign and additional school zone signs around Wheeler as well.

New Facebook Page

Board member Sam Bell has created a new facebook page for CHNA titled “College Hill Neighborhood Association.” It will be a public page for all. Initially, posts by non-members will not be allowed, though comments on the posts, will be.

Volunteers and Participation Welcome

Board members and other volunteers attended many of the important city meetings that are being currently being held around the city. They included open meetings on the stadium proposal, the proposed streetcar proposal, an organizational meeting of North Benefit Street residents and planning meetings both at Brown and RISD. It’s a busy time of year here in the city.

And finally we’re happy to announce that Walter Curtis of Lloyd Lane, Seth Kurn of Bowen Street and Wendy Marcus of Benefit Street have officially joined the CHNA Board.

Come Join Us

As you can see there is a lot going on in our neighborhood. We encourage anyone interested to please join our association and help us in our efforts to protect and enhance the quality of life here on College Hill. It’s important, it’s interesting and it’s fun. For information about joining, please check our website.

College Hill Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906. 633-5230, www.collegehillna.com, chna@collegehillna.com. –Anthony Petrocchi, corresponding secretary