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What Cheer/What Jeer 2011

We’re taking a look back at 2011. What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheer195 Demolition

You guys all know there are like a dozen cities all over the country that are insanely jealous that we tore down our downtown expressway, right?

Putting aside what happens with the 195 Commission (we’ll talk about that in a minute), it is so totally awesome that the highway is gone. Even without any development happening yet, the Jewelry District has been transformed. Suddenly, with the highway gone, people realize the Jewelry District is on the edge of Downcity. And while the sidewalks aren’t exactly jammed, it is certainly noticeable how many people now choose to walk between Downcity and the Jewelry District, who would not before.

Chestnut Street

Route 195 being torn down at Chestnut Street in the Jewelry District

whatcheerBroadway Bike Lanes / Gano Street Sharrows

Anticipated since at least 2008, bike lanes finally showed up on Broadway in 2011.

We also saw the city’s first sharrows show up on Gano and other streets, helping to connect the East Bay and Blackstone bike paths.

Let’s hope we see more bike infrastructure sprouting up on streets all over town in 2012.

whatcheer35 Weybosset Façade

It is going to mean a parking lot, but a parking lot was in the cards all along, we’ve saved the façade for future use and that is going to greatly blunt the impact of the parking lot.

Thanks to the Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and all others involved in saving the façade.

35 weybosset rendered

Image: © Chad Gowey 2010. All rights reserved.

whatcheerBrown Med, Street trees, bike parking, ship street square

Brown made a big move off the Hill into the Jewelry District with the opening of their new Med School. The Med School is quickly proving to be a positive asset for the neighborhood. Starting with the amazing street trees, ample sidewalk, and many bike hitches on Richmond Street. Add to that a welcome new cafe, more people walking on the sidewalks, and Ship Street Square, the pocket park which was created from part of a parking lot across the street.

whatcheerTrain Station Clock Working

This is one of those things that could kind of be a What Jeer, I mean if the clock was not working so long that we have to make it a notable event of the year that it is now working again, than that is just messed up, right? We don’t care, we’re just happy it is working again, What Cheer?!

whatcheerProvidence Independence Trail

We haven’t actually had the chance to purposefully walk it ourselves yet (though we see it all the time and probably have disconnectedly over time walked the whole thing), we like the getting-it-doneness spirit of painting a stripe and calling it an attraction, and from what we can see, it is an attraction.

whatcheerPhoenix win!

Remember last spring when we were all the time begging you to vote for us for a Providence Phoenix Best Blog of 2011 nod, and you did voted, and we did win, and it was cool? Yeah, we still think that was pretty cool. Thanks again!


whatjeerElmer the Elm’s lobotomy

Remember when RIDOT issued a permit for someone to tear the tops off a few of the last elm trees on Elmwood Avenue in Elmwood (one of them named Elmer) so people on the highway could see the lottery billboard behind Elmer? Yeah, we remember that too.

Elmwood Avenue at Route 95. Reader submitted photo.

whatjeerGovernor’s focus on transit

Back in the April the ProJo blog reported that Governor Chafee planned to “take an active role in the state’s transit system.”

[Stephen R.] Hourahan [senior adviser to the governor] said that the governor plans to focus on transit, saying that “This is something that Linc has been focused on for years.”

“We do take this stuff very seriously,” he said.

What happened to that?

whatjeerCity Councilman Correia struck on Atwells Avenue

Can we please not make City Councilors getting run down by hit and run drivers on Atwells Avenue be an annual thing?

Of course it is not just City Councilors being run down, if you follow our Facebook page you’ll see that we’re tracking people getting struck all over the metro area. It’s at least once a week people!

whatjeerArcade still vacant

There’s been some whispers about town about a plan to re-use the Arcade of late (and no, the whispers are not suggesting a parking lot), there was a fun practical joke earlier in the year about a marketplace opening in the space; yet still, the Arcade remains vacant.

whatjeerRoute 195 Redevelopment Commission

Does anyone else think they are reading about high schoolers playing Model U.N. when they read about the 195 Commission? Perhaps the Commission will surprise us all and work some serious economic development magic and get some (non-Johnson & Wales) shovels in the ground real soon. More likely, we’re on a 30-year mission here folks, look to Capital Center and the boom years it enjoyed in the middle of the last decade, and it is still not built out.

Here’s the thing, when one inventories Downcity, Capital Center, the Jewelry District, and the Hospitals area and accounts for all the vacant and under-utilized land in those areas, the 195 land is negligible, it is barely a blip. However, we’ve gone through all these machinations, creating more bureaucracy that needs staff and budgets, and duplicates work that existing state and city agencies are designed to handle. Why are we doing this?

whatjeerRIPTA Budget Crisis

See that thing above about the Governor focusing on transit? This is where the focus needs to be Governor. There are many smart people (unfortunately mostly outside the General Assembly where the decisions are made) that have a lot of intelligent proposals on how to address the annual RIPTA budget crisis; which basically boils down to people driving less to save money and turning to RIPTA, which in turn means less gas tax revenue and less money for RIPTA just when people are depending on it most.

Governor, Speaker Fox, call these smart people, talk to them, work out a solution.

PS: RIDOT is teetering on the edge of a major budget crisis as well.

whatjeerGrove Street School

Of course the story goes back years, but this year’s installments started with the issuance of a demo permit said to be in relation to dangers posed by a hurricane, a demo permit which was initiated weeks before said hurricane actually formed much less threatened Providence.

The year ends with another demo permit announced late on a Friday afternoon and a statement that the Mayor feels bad about it.

The building could have been saved before the bullshit “hurricane” demo permit tore away more at what had already been damaged (and unresolved) during the prior administration, after that, there was nothing left but to feel bad.

Grove Street School

This would have worked out well had the building been torn down the day of the Hurricane.


Ugh, what a down note to end it on, maybe we should do What Jeers first and end with the What Cheers. Feel free to leave your own What Cheers and What Jeers in the comments.

In 2011 there was good, there was bad, here’s to more What Cheering and less What Jeering next year!


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3 Responses to What Cheer/What Jeer 2011

  1. Coryndon December 22, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    What Cheer: the migration of 4+ tech companies to the jewelry district and downtown. Most without government bribes….

  2. Tony P December 23, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    The one that irritates me the most is the Grove St. School. Our state representative (No caps for that asshole) Michael Tarro VIOLATED a court order and started tearing it down yet suffered no penalty.

  3. Alissa December 27, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Yay Independence Trail!

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