In spite of Providence Zoning rules and Capital Center rules forbidding it, the State is moving ahead with plans to expand a surface parking lot on the State House grounds and building a new surface parking lot adjacent to the State House.
ecoRI reports that the Department of Administration (DOA) has already started work on expanding the Assembly Members parking lot on the State House grounds. “Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces.”
Meanwhile, as we discussed in July, the DOA has spent $3.1 million purchasing property along Francis Street next to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for even more surface parking.
The Chairman of the Capital Center Commission, Deming Sherman is none to happy about all this. Sherman told The Providence Journal that there should be less parking around the State House, not more and that a parking garage should be built behind the DOA building.
When the State restarted the project to expand the parking lot on the State House lawn in June of this year, Sherman contended that the plan had to be submitted to the Capital Center Commission for review, the DOA claims that their authority supercedes the Capital Center Commission (which was created by the State) as well as City zoning.
The Providence Business News reported that the Commission depends on the Providence City Solicitor for legal support. When the parking lot expansion was first proposed in 2010 the City supported the Commission’s objection to the project in writing. Current City Solicitor Jeffrey Padwa “declined to oppose” the project. PBN also reports:
Edward “Ted” Sanderson, the executive director of the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, also declined to get involved. Earlier this month Chafee appointed senior adviser Jonathan Stevens, who initially proposed the parking lot expansion, to be state preservation officer.
Go ahead, read that again, Governor Chafee appointed the guy who proposed building more surface parking on the State House lawn to be the state preservation officer. I’ll wait while you clean up your exploded brain.
Wait, also, this all might violate our 1982 agreement with the Feds giving us the money to move the railroad tracks and river and create Capital Center and… Capital Properties, the company that owns and master leases most of the property in Capital Center is wondering why they’re abiding by the agreements made like a bunch of chumps while the State contends they can do whatever they want.
So, in summary:
- The State through the Department of Administration is moving ahead with plans to expand surface parking and claims no one can stop them.
- The head of the Capital Center Commission thinks they actually do have the jurisdiction to stop them, but would need to go to Court to prove it and does not have enough money in their budget for a court fight.
- Even if they were to sue, the City Solicitor is the one who would argue their case and the City Solicitor is thus far quiet on all this.
- Governor Rotary Circle appointed as the state preservation officer a guy who thinks surface parking on the grounds of the State House is a neat idea.
- The Feds might be all like, “we didn’t give you that money to build parking lots.”
- Capital Properties is all like, “what the hell?”
- And while RIPTA remains without a clear and predictable source of funding, something that Speaker Fox claimed was a priority for him last session, the Assembly is getting more parking for themselves.
PVD Capital Center Commission describes state parking lot expansion a direct violation of agreement. Will reach out to Speaker Fox for help.
— Patrick Anderson (@andersonpbn) October 17, 2013
What are you gonna do Mr. Speaker?