As we head towards the official end of 2011, we figured this might be a good time to reflect on how the East Side fared through the past year. As expected, some grand old traditions came to an end: the closing of JRS Fine Art Gallery on Wickenden Street after 35 years, for example, or the tear down of an old dorm at RISD.
Some new traditions began as well. An Ethiopian restaurant on the East Side allows us to eat with our hands. Exotic new public art work has risen along Hope Street. New luxury housing is now available at Wayland Square.
So, in no particular order, here’s a random and somewhat whimsical look back at some of the big (and not so big) events that have impacted our quality of life in the delightful area we’re all so proud to call home.
Saying No to Another Cup O’ Joe
Plans for a new drive-through coffee establishment on Hope Street in the old Clarke Flowers location just north of Hope High School were derailed as the neighborhood rallied together to block the zoning changes necessary for it to go forward. Led by an aggressive and remarkably successful email lobbying effort, the plan was shot down by an impressive array of vocal and well-organized opponents. Adjoining neighbors worried about the surge in traffic. Preservationists complained about the demolition of the century old greenhouse the plan would require. And the community at large posited the question of whether the East Side, which had successfully fought off Dunkin’ Donuts on Gano Street, really needs any drive-throughs at all? In this case, the answer seemed to be a re- sounding, “No to the Joe.”
The Tom and Dean Shows Both Canceled
Two well-known city leaders who live on the East Side both found themselves out of jobs this year. Superintendent of Schools Tom Brady, a Congdon Street resident, resigned after a three-year run in Providence. A graduate of philan- thropist Eli Broad’s innovative Superintendents Academy program, Brady will be replaced on an interim basis by Susan Lusi, the former Chief of Staff for Providence Public Schools from 2001-3. With the “other Tom Brady” playing well for the Patriots, a move up the road to Foxboro is no longer an option. Meanwhile Police Chief Dean Esserman, a President Avenue resident, resigned amidst the aftermath of an underage graduation drinking party at his home. The chief, however, has just taken a job in nearby New Haven as, you guessed it, the new police chief. As if there aren’t enough homes for sale on the East Side already.