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Archive | July, 2010

Reader Submission: What is your favorite street in Providence?

Westminster Street
Westminster Street, Downcity. Photo © kd1s.

A reader wrote in to suggest this topic, what is your favorite street in Providence, and why?

I must admit, when I first read his suggestion, my mind drew a total blank. I guess I get so intent on pointing out what is wrong and what needs to be fixed mode, that sometimes it is hard to switch gears.

After some thought, the first street that came to mind was Westminster, Downcity. From the river to Snow Street the street has only two holes in the streetwall (110 Westminster Street and Grant’s Block). The economy has created some holes in the retail landscape, but it is holding in there. During the day (during the week at least) there is a healthy amount of life on the street and this is augmented by cafe tables and retailers selling merchandise on the sidewalks. The section from Dorrance to Snow is also well treed.

A comment on one of my photos on Flickr also made me think of another collection of streets I like.

Dean & Federal
Bond Street, Federal Hill. Photo by Jef Nickerson.

The alleys of Federal Hill make up a rather special urban environment; Bond Street, Pequot Street, Mountain Street, Jones Street… Living on one of these alleys, I am often confronted with the problems of them; poor to no maintenance cause massive puddles, dirt, rats (yes, they are making a comeback on the Hill), valets driving way too fast… But even though they are rough around the edges and many of the buildings on them are rundown or worse, wrapped in vinyl, they make up a unique built space.

So let us know what your favorite street(s) is in the city and why.

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News & Notes

→ [Boston] Public food market gets $10m promise [Boston.com]
The Boston Public Market will be located along the Greenway in a building close to the location of the current Haymarket. The market is expected to be open in 12-18 months.

→ RIPTA trying to avoid reductions to bus service [ProJo]

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is looking into avoiding service reductions by substituting a fare increase — or perhaps by fundamentally changing its fare structure to make riders pay more for longer trips.

→ The “Best Place” is no place at all [OnTransport]
Money Magazine’s Best Places to live have no there there.

→ Wooly Fair 2010 this Saturday [Wooly]

Wooly Fair is Providence’s homegrown art carnival, a vibrant spectacle that showcases the city’s creative community at its most joyful. This year’s theme is Back to Nature, and the fair’s centerpiece is the Flower Tower, a pyramid of container gardens that will be distributed after the July 31st event to hospitals, schools, and other organizations.

→ paris: the street is ours! [Human Transit]

It’s simple: the default setting for pedestrian signals is green, and they turn red only when your safety requires it. (In Sydney, where I currently live, the opposite rule applies. There, pedestrian signals are always red, but if you push a button and wait patiently, often for a nearly complete cycle of the signal, wondering if you’ve submitted an application to some bureaucrat who will get to it after his lunch break, you’ll finally get green for a few seconds. But don’t blink or you’ll miss it and have to start again.)

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Dangerous by Design


Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

In recent years a little noticed shift has been transforming suburbia: the home of the middle class has become the home of the working poor. As a result, roadways that were built for the car are now used by a growing population that can’t afford to drive. The consequences can be deadly.

Blueprint America on Need to Know from suburban Atlanta where getting to the other side of the road is nothing to take for granted.

PBS: Blueprint America

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News & Notes

→ Preserving modernism in Boston: making the case [Boston.com]

→ Andrew Knee: Milwaukee – A Walker’s Paradise [UrbanOut]
“And the latest venture is a broad swath of land called the Park East, where a freeway was recently torn down and the street-grid was reassembled.”

→ Sound wall made of vegetation to be studied by ODOT as alternative to concrete wall [Cleveland.com]
I’m thinking of Route 195 in the Gano Street area.

→ London Opens Bike “Superhighways” [GOOD]

→ Worst. Intersection. Ever. [Car-Free in PVD]

→ Sen. Kerry docks yacht in R.I., saves on taxes [MSNBC]
Yes, the story has gone national. The Senator’s people claim the boat is in Newport for “for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes.” Whatever, I just like the headline telling rich people to come to Rhode Island for our low taxes. Bring your yachts and spend some money while your here.

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Timber!


Reader submitted photo

Yesterday we were getting reader reports that mature trees where being torn down at Riverview Plaza on Pitman Street (where Eastside Marketplace is located). After a bit of confusion and reports from people in the area, we received photographs from a reader showing that the trees in question were removed from the driveway nearest the Boston Sports Club building in the complex.


Screen capture from Google StreetView showing the trees before they were removed.

The trees removed were six ornamental pears, approximately 15 years old. The trees were removed by Riverview’s propery manager, KGI Properties.

According to our reader report, a spokesperson for KGI stated the trees were removed for “obstructing traffic.” I’m looking at the StreetView image and I’m just not seeing an obstruction, anyone see it? The spokesperson also stated, “the trees were interfering with lighting” and “the trees were too large.”

Seth, Amy…

REALLY!?

Too large? Really?

Meanwhile, the contractors on scene removing the actual trees said that one of the tenants complained that their sign could not be seen from Pitman Street and that was why the trees were being removed.


Reader submitted photos

Update:
Comment from the Planning Department on this issue:

The preservation of the trees was part of the approved landscaping plan for the BSC project. Their removal is contrary to the approval and would have required an amendment to the plan by the City Plan Commission, which did not happen. Depending on what their canopy coverage figure is for the site, it might have required a zoning variance as well. These are not street trees, so the city tree ordinance does not apply regarding tree caliper replacement. However, it’s clear that they’ve violated at least the commission’s regulations, and perhaps the zoning ordinance. Some mitigation is going to be required. I expect that we’ll be seeking replacement of the tree canopy lost, with a factor that considers the maturity of the trees. I have traded phone messages with Karen Bodell, and will speak with her on Monday about how to proceed. I’m personally disappointed that these mature trees were taken down, and will do my best to ensure that this condition is corrected.

Update:
Tweet from the Planning Department:

We’ve notified KGI Properties of the improper removal of trees at Riverview Place. Meeting this week to reach a resolution.less than a minute ago via web

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Great Day for Community Boating

Picture from 2009's Regatta, despite the rain. This year: SUN!

It’s been 3 years since the CBC saw a sunny forecast for the annual Renaissance Regatta, but today looks like a lucky day.

Every year, the CBC tries to raise money to pay for its youth outreach and program initiatives by holding a regatta event. Companies, organizations, and individuals are invited to sponsor a team of sailors to compete in a series of sailing races during the day. Additionally, items are donated to CBC for a silent auction, and the public is invited to come cheer on the racers, participate in the auction, and go for a sailboat ride.

The event is TODAY and open to all. Tickets will be available at the door (discount for CBC members). Check out the CBC website or facebook page for more information.

See you there!

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