Summit Neighborhood Association
New Store Opens in Old Shaw’s Plaza
The new Ocean State Job Lot opened on North Main Street on April 18. It features a bigger, brighter and cleaner environment on 27,000 square feet of floor space with enough back-room storage to bring the total to 36,161 square feet. It had been stocked with more than 26 tractor-trailer loads of merchandise, according to David Sarlitto, head of corporate marketing. The old store in Pawtucket was to close as soon as the new one opened.
In addition to the shopping opportunities, the new location will provide about 30 new jobs and the company has been actively recruiting workers.
The former grocery store, accessible from Ann Mary and Collyer Streets, is completely rehabilitated inside with new steel shelves and lighting. Sarlitto said the merchandise mix is the same as at Ocean State Job Lot’s other stores but deeper, with higher quantity. He said the opening is part of an expansion program that has stores in eight states, including all of New England plus New York and New Jersey.
As part of the company’s commitment to those states, the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation was sponsoring a Three Square Meals convoy of more than 100 tractor-trailers of supplies to 15 food banks. Many of the trucks were scheduled to leave the North Kingstown distribution center on April 9, with some on the road before that, in one of the biggest such efforts in the country, Sarlitto said.
Still Time to Run Before Annual Meeting
The Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting is to be held May 20 and the board of directors is still holding the door open for people to run for election.
Several current members are stepping down because of illness or other commitments, so the board is seeking replacements as well as others interested in contributing to improving the neighborhood. The number of board members is flexible enough to accommodate almost anyone.
The term of office is one year and entails attending one meeting per month as well as actively supporting at least one of the organization’s many endeavors, plus helping with delivery of our threetimes-annually released newsletter. All members are strongly encouraged to bring particular interests or specific projects to the board’s attention.
If you are interested, or know someone who would be a great board member, please email or snail mail us.
The election will be the primary order of business at the annual meeting, which will be at the Highlands on the East Side, an assisted-living and memory-care center at 101 Highland Ave. It will be an opportunity to get up close and personal with elected officials as well as other people of influence in the neighborhood and city, a “who you need to know” party. Participants can expect to sample wines, foods and other offerings of local merchants as well as voice opinions as to the proper direction of the association. It is also a good time to join or renew a membership.
Community Gardens On Slow Track
The improvements planned for the play area of the “tot lot” park at the corner of Summit and Ninth Streets have been scheduled to go out for bids in the spring, but have been hampered by events.
One of the biggest uncertainties has been the retirement of Bob McMahon, the director of the Providence Parks Department. Although he has been an active proponent of the community gardens segment of the renovation plan, his successor had not been named by March 31 and the future pace of developments is unclear. Representatives of SNA were to meet with McMahon in April to try to responsibly allocate the state grant funds the neighborhood association has turned over to the Parks Department for the project but have not yet been spent.
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 Avenue. The February meeting was called off because of the weather, but all others 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.” Contact us at Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence, RI 02940 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 489-7078
Fox Point Neighborhood Association
Events this Month
FPNA Membership Meeting, 7pm, Wednesday, May 20 at the Sheldon Street Church, 51 Sheldon Street.
Parks Department to Fund Monument Restoration
The Providence Department of Parks & Recreation has placed a line item in its upcoming budget to fund the restoration of the 1906 plaques, currently missing from the Roger Williams Landing Monument at Gano Street, according to outgoing superintendent Robert McMahon.
FPNA will contribute the almost $8,000 it has raised for the restoration, along with a recommendation that Robert Shure with Skylight Studios be selected. Last year, FPNA volunteers researched the missing four plaques and provided photos and text descriptions to Shure, FPNA Vice President Daisy Schnepel said. “We sent those photos to a respected foundry and received a detailed estimate to reproduce the 1906 plaques with the proper patina and production techniques.”
This restored monument will join the historical marker and new boat launch as some exciting destinations along the developing Fox Point Greenway, which is anchored by the proposed Blackstone Bike Way and Gano Park. Work on the extension of the Blackstone Bike Way along the Seekonk Shoreline is set to begin this year. It will join the Blackstone Bike Way with the Washington Bridge, the East Bay Bike System and Providence through India Point Park.
For a complete look at the route and proposed destinations, go to www. fpna.net and click on the PDF in the lower right Greenway article on the home page.
FPNA Membership Meeting Set for May 20
FPNA vice president Daisy Schnepel will welcome the newly inaugurated officeholders for Mayor, Council, State Representative and State Senatorial positions at the organization’s membership meeting at 7pm, Wednesday, May 20 at the Sheldon Street Church, 51 Sheldon Street.
The theme of the meeting will focus on Fox Point’s number one issue for 2015 – the development of the Fox Point Greenway, Schnepel says. FPNA has invited Lambri Zerva, chief supervising engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, who will give an update on the installation of the Blackstone Bike Way, and Providence Department of Planning & Development Principal Planner David Everett. Everett, who helped FPNA to pinpoint development potentials and challenges along the bike way, will address the membership on the necessary components of a successful greenway. Also, invited to speak is Wendy Nilsson, new superintendent of the Providence Department of Parks & Recreation and Friends of India Point Park Co-Chair David Riley, who will report on burial of the waterfront power lines.
Elected officials, including Mayor Jorge Elorza, will offer their thoughts on the projects and also present their vision for Fox Point and the city, Schnepel adds. “We look forward to an active exchange of ideas in a healthy question and answer period.”
National Grid Keeps Raising the Bar
The proposal to bury the high-voltage power lines on the Providence/East Providence waterfront will be considered by the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) sometime this spring, after completion of an independent review of National Grid’s latest cost estimate.
Over the years, National Grid officials’ cost estimates have repeatedly increased by 500%, from the initial estimate of $6 to $7 million in 2003 to the current figure of $33.9 million, according to David Riley, co-chair of Friends of India Point Park, FIPP. In the early years of this project, the company consistently increased its estimate when funds raised for the project approached the amount needed for the previous estimate, Riley notes.
Riley has submitted questions about the latest estimate, such as why it includes a $4.3 million contingency for burial after extensive borings and engineering studies last year indicated that the riverbed is suitable for the burial. National Grid’s new estimate, issued after the feasibility studies were completed, increased the contingency by over 200% since its most recent detailed estimate conducted in 2007, according to Riley.
More than $17 million has already been raised and designated specifically for burial. If National Grid’s $33.9 million estimate proves accurate, the remaining $17 million needed could be built into utility rates, which is routinely done for power line projects deemed to benefit the state, Riley pointed out. The cost for this project would be a nominal increase for the average RI ratepayer of about 10 cents per month over 20 years, as FIPP points out in its summary fact sheet at www.friendsofindiapointpark.org.
Burying the wires under the Providence and Seekonk Rivers and under India Point Park would “enhance the socioeconomic fabric of the state,” as required by state law, according to an EFSB’s ruling in 2004. Power Delivery Consultants, which has done work for National Grid in the past, will be conducting the review of their latest cost estimate.
The power lines also threaten to detract from the marketability of key waterfront development parcels, including several in the Route 195 redevelopment district, the report stated. Lower property values resulting from proximity to high-voltage wires have been well documented, as reported in a November 16 PolitiFact column. A loss in property values on key waterfront parcels would probably reduce property value gains from improved waterfront parks and potentially frustrate urgently needed efforts to increase the tax bases of Providence and East Providence.
Burying the waterfront wires would also create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, according to a report on the economic impact of the project by Bryant University Professor Edinaldo Tebaldi.
More than 2,000 people have signed the petition at www.change. org/p/bury-the-waterfront-power-lines-in-providence-and-east-providence with half of them being from outside Providence and East Providence. Please, show your support by signing up now, if you haven’t already signed. Fox Point Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 603177, Providence, RI 02906. 329-8569, www.fpna.net, email@example.com. –John Rousseau
Neighborhood Discussion Group at Books on the Square
Monthly Meetings Wednesdays from 7-8:45pm, April 22 and May 27, Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street at Elmgrove, next to CVS. Free and open to all.
Pipe Lining and Street Surfacing
Providence Water is planning to clean out and re-line some congested old mains in Wayland Square this spring, followed by the repaving of Wayland Avenue from Angell to Waterman by the City of Providence.
Work was originally planned to begin in mid-April, but the partial and total street closures involved greatly upset local merchants who foresaw a blow to one of their busiest seasons just after major losses from this winter’s storm congestion.
At the end of March (while this column is being written), the city and utilities were exploring whether it would be possible to move the road and pipe work to the businesses’ summer doldrums between Memorial Day weekend (Brown’s graduation) and Labor Day.
In 2016 and 2017, Providence Water plans to work on the residential streets of our neighborhood.
At our April 22 meeting (see above), we will hear speakers on these plans from Providence Water, National Grid and the city’s Street Improvement Project.
Run, Don’t Walk?
The Providence Running Company has opened a new athletic shoe store on Wayland and Medway next to Reliable Gold’s temporary quarters in the former site of CVS, The Opulent Owl and Runcible Spoon.
However, we have yet to see the return of the Walking Company (no relation), which lost its space on the other side of Medway to a water-pipe break last autumn, together with Reliable Gold, Wendy Brown Linens and Butterfield. Wendy Brown is currently doing business across the street at Southwest Passage’s former home near Haruki East, but Butterfield has no plans to reopen on the Square.
Check our Yahoo! Group’s public message board 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. groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandsquare –David Kolsky
Blackstone Parks Conservancy
Stories from a Long and
Outgoing Superintendent Robert McMahon regaled the annual meeting of the Blackstone Parks Conservancy in March with stories and insights from his 28-year career in the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation. With self-deprecating humor, McMahon described his early days as a newcomer full of new ideas and the challenges he’d encountered, some of which may be more amusing in retrospect than they were at the time.
McMahon called his approach for getting things done with a department that has suffered from considerable attrition over the years as a variation on the ”four-corner” basketball strategy; talented staff, collaboration with other city departments, positive relationships with all elected officials (staying above the fray) and a supportive public and park friends’ groups.
McMahon praised the Blackstone Parks Conservancy as the city’s most outstanding friends group. He also singled out Gale Aronson in the audience as one who had made an enormous difference to the Blackstone Parks and offered sympathy for the loss of her husband.
Fortunately for the Conservancy and all the city’s parks, McMahon intends to stay in Providence and will lend assistance to his successor.
On the Boulevard with Stan Aronson
Dr. Stanley Aronson passed away recently after a long and extraordinarily productive life. Stan was widely revered and loved for his many achievements as a prominent physician and so much more.
At the Blackstone Parks Conservancy we remember Stan for his devotion to the Boulevard, where he lived his last years. While he still could, he would walk in the park admiring the trees. An accomplished gardener himself, he enjoyed this “garden” across from his house. In the evening, he and Gale would sometimes sit on the bench that they had donated, chatting with passersby.
Stan and Gale Aronson were a great team. Gale led the Boulevard Committee and served on the Board for many years, enthusiastically conceiving and bringing to fruition numerous important projects. Stan supported her many successes, which included among other things, the restoration of the Trolley Shelter with embellishments, the first major pruning of the Boulevard trees in 25 years, the creation of several gardens and the popular summer concerts.
Gale says that Stan particularly loved trees, and he knew them well, which seemed surprising for a boy from Brooklyn. If a tree fell, it caused him pain. Gale was and still is, a sort of mother of the Boulevard, walking it almost daily and keeping an eye on things. She says that when she would bring home a piece of bark with lichen on it, Stan would admire it delightedly. He loved life.
In Stan’s memory, the Conservancy will establish a small grove of trees on the Boulevard and make a donation to the Home and Hospice Care that he famously helped establish. Gale intends to continue organizing the Trolley Shelter concerts this summer.
Kindly send your East Side Marketplace receipts to Blackstone Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014, www.blackstoneparksconservancy.org, firstname.lastname@example.org –Jane Peterson
College Hill Neighborhood Association
Brown Officials Clarify
New Alcohol Policy
Three Brown administrators took the time to attend our April Board meeting to explain the recent Brown policy limiting on-campus parties serving alcohol. Some College Hill residents had expressed concern that the new policy might drive students off campus for their spring partying to the detriment of the neighborhood. Margaret Klawunn, Brown Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services, acknowledged that the school perhaps should have been a bit more timely in sharing the news of the campus party ban with the larger community. “It certainly would have been a better way to deal with potential concern from the neighbors,” she admitted.
Ms. Klawunn explained the school was initially more concerned with eliminating unregistered basement parties at the on-campus fraternities and hence thought it was more of an internal issue. She noted that the school will be more proactive in the future in dealing with the communication issues and cited a neighborhood letter that is going out to nearby residents shortly.
She was joined at the Board Meeting by Katie Silberberg, Community Liaison from the Office of Government Relations and Community Affairs and Kate Tompkins, Associate Director of Government Relations and Community Affairs. The three emphasized that regardless of on-campus policies, all Brown students who live off campus must attend a session explaining their responsibilities as good neighbors and are expected to act appropriately at all times. They reported that there has not been any up tick in inappropriate offcampus behavior that they are aware of although they acknowledge a house on the corner of Barnes and Hope has raised some concern from neighbors. An improved line of communication will be established with the CHNA to assist any residents who feel Brown is not responding to their concerns in a satisfactory manner. The meeting was productive and the CHNA Board appreciates Brown’s willingness to participate in the discussion.
Neighborhood Day Event Planned for Thayer Street on May 16
The Thayer Street District Management Authority (TSDMA) will hold a family friendly festival from noon to 6pm on Saturday, May 16. (The street itself will be closed from 10am to 8pm). It promises to be an exciting day complete with live entertainment and children’s activities. We’re also happy to learn that the beautification of the street will continue in earnest this month with the return of the tree wells and some needed sidewalk repairs after this harsh winter. We also were informed that much of the snow clean up on the street was funded by the TSDMA for which the CHNA is very much appreciative given the Providence snow removal problems this winter.
Prospect Terrace Upgrade Planning Beginning
Thanks to the efforts of Board Member Sara Bradford, a landscape architect, plans have been drawn up to begin the discussion of a much-needed upgrade to this important enclave on the East Side. While a lot will need to be done in terms of funding and design, CHNA is looking forward with a partnership with the Parks Department to implement improvements to one of the Jewels of our City. We welcome any residents who would like to help us in these efforts.
CHNA Website Improvements Continue
Some nice upgrades continue to be made to the CHNA website. We urge residents to check them out by going to www.collegehillna.com
Please Join us at CHNA
The CHNA is an all-volunteer organization of members working together to protect the quality of life in our neighborhood. We sustain ourselves on community support. Please consider aiding our efforts by joining for a modest $20/person (of course more if you’d like). Please visit our website for more details. We look forward to having you with us. College Hill Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906, www.collegehillna.com, email@example.com –Anthony Petrocchi, corresponding secretary