Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

WPRI: Study: Providence worst city for the disabled

A study released Wednesday suggests that Providence is the worst city in the U.S. for people with disabilities.


Overall, Providence finished dead last. Rhode Island’s capital was also ranked last in economic environment for the disabled, 146th in health care, and 101st for quality of life.

Could scenes like this have anything to do with the poor quality of life for the disabled in Providence?


ProJo: Raimondo pushes out managers, dismisses employees at ‘dysfunctional’ DOT


Image from RIDOT

Having diagnosed Rhode Island’s transportation bureaucracy as “dysfunctional,” Governor Raimondo Wednesday outlined the steps she’s taking to fix it — with or without revenue from proposed truck tolls.

In an overhaul of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation that started earlier this year, Raimondo said she has pushed out several managers, adopted private-sector planning processes and begun hiring workers to reduce the agency’s reliance on outside contractors.

RIDOT has also either dismissed or accepted the resignation of “four or five” unidentified employees for “dishonesty,” including false record keeping and not being where they said they were, according to Director Peter Alviti.

I don’t have anything nice to say about RIDOT so I won’t say anything at all.


RIPTA Fare Restructuring Proposals


News from PBN and EcoRI about RIPTA’s proposed fare changes:

Providence Business News: RIPTA eyes expanded service, but who will pay?

A U.S. census survey, called the American Community Survey, in 2013 reported that 2.9 percent of Rhode Islanders used public transportation at least once a week.

Largely because of its small size, Rhode Island has a density that rivals New Jersey — with 1,018 people per square mile. For comparison purposes, 10.8 percent of the New Jersey population used public transportation, while 27 percent of the state of New York did so, according to the census survey.

Rhode Island’s density is what officials at state transportation agencies point to when arguing that increased investment in public transit is a smart move.

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – September 21, 2015

featured-drc Downtown Design Review Committee
Monday, September 21, 2015 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of June 15, 2015 and August 17, 2015

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 15.18: 342 Eddy Street (Public Hearing) – The subject of the hearing will be an application by The Narragansett Electric Company requesting waivers from D-1 Design Regulations for non-conforming new construction. The applicant is proposing to construct a new Substation Switchgear & Control Building at 342 Eddy Street, Providence, RI. The applicant is seeking waivers from the requirements for building height and fenestration.


Proposed building for Parcel 8, image from Kite Architects.

2. DRC Application No. 15.19: 566 South Water Street and Parcel 8 (Eastside I-195 Overlay District) – Proposal by Royal Oaks Realty, LLC to construct a new mixed-use building on the property. The DRC will review the project and make a recommendation to the I-195 District Commission.

See also:

ProJo: On former 195 land, a proposed ‘sculptural light display’



Automobile induced isolation and loneliness in small cities


Photo (cc) Matt Cloutier

The Bicylce Lobby posted the following Tweet this evening which I retweeted:

Typical Bicycle Lobby of course, but one of the responses to my retweet was:

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – September 16, 2015

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
September 16, 2015, 2015 – 4:45pm
30 Exchange Terrace, 1st floor conference room
Note, this meeting will be at a different location, 30 Exchange Terrace.
  1. Roll call
  2. Approval of meeting minutes from July Commission meeting
  3. Update on the City’s participation in the USDOT Mayor’s Challenge (Martina Haggerty)
  4. Update on response from administration regarding letter of BPAC recommendations (Martina Haggerty)
  5. Update on status of Pleasant Valley Parkway Bridge 777 plans and bike detour (Martina Haggerty)
  6. Discussion of planned update to the City’s Bike Plan and possible public engagement strategies (Martina Haggerty)
  7. Update on improvements to reporting of pot holes and patching (Leah Bamberger)
  8. Discussion of Point Street traffic volume data collected by DPW in relation to possible bike lanes on Point Street (Bill Bombard)
  9. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.

ProJo: Police: Driver headed for body shop after hitting pedestrian with stolen car

walkinpvd-iconAfter hitting a pedestrian with a stolen car Wednesday afternoon, a Providence man drove to an auto body shop less than a block away from the crash site, according to police.

A 21-year-old man was struck by a vehicle while trying to cross the intersection of Valley Street and Eagle Street at 2:40 p.m., according to a police report provided by Maj. Thomas Verdi.

The vehicle, which had been turning from Valley Street onto Eagle Street, drove off after the crash.

I better get my stolen car to the auto body shop stat! Damn pedestrians!


News & Notes


Image (cc) by Barbara Gossett

CityLab: The Real Downtown ‘Parking Problem’: There’s Too Much of It

It’s not unusual for people to worry about parking in places where they totally don’t need to worry about parking. The consultancy Nelson\Nygaard recently surveyed parking availability in 27 mixed-use districts across the U.S. and found that parking supply exceeded demand by an average of 65 percent. In nine areas where parking was thought to be scarce, the oversupply ranged from 6 to 82 percent.

Vox: Houston just dramatically improved its mass transit system without spending a dime

How is Houston able to pull that off with no additional funding?

Well, as Jarrett Walker, one of the plan’s lead designers, explains, it’s all about prioritizing routes that will plausibly attract riders. The old system, like many bus routes in the United States, expended a lot of resources on very low-ridership routes for the sake of saying there’s “a bus that goes there.” The new plan says the focus should be to provide reasonably frequent service on routes where reasonably frequent service will attract riders. That does mean that some people are further than ever from a transit stop. But it means that many more Houstonians will find themselves near a useful transit stop.

Focusing transit planning on the goal of promoting transit services that are actually used strikes me as common sense. But it’s also the best way to create a virtuous circle of sound urban planning and transportation management. A system with a lot of riders is a system with a lot of advocates for expansion and improvement.

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More PawSox News


Rendering of a theoretical Victory Place stadium for the PawSox in the Jewelry District.

ProJo: PawSox owner Lucchino scouts Victory Place site

PawSox principal owner Larry Lucchino late Wednesday afternoon walked among the weeds of the Victory Place property in the Jewelry District as he looked for options to the team’s search for a new ballpark site.


Lucchino decided to look at the privately-owned Victory Place site in the Jewelry District, he said, after the people who packed a Tuesday forum on the Pawtucket Red Sox ballpark plan once again brought up the site as an alternative to the team’s preferred Providence River site.

ProJo: Federal agency insists on reimbursement if park land used for PawSox stadium

Months after the Pawtucket Red Sox first raised the prospect of building a baseball stadium in downtown Providence, discussions between state and federal officials continue about whether it’s permissible to commit the team’s preferred site to a private use.

If the site set aside years ago to become a public park is used for a commercial enterprise, the Federal Highway Administration would ask the state to repay the fair market value of that land, FHWA spokesman Doug Hecox told The Providence Journal.

The Feds aren’t liking giving the PawSox free land I guess. Feds might also be looking for money if we don’t end up building the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge, sigh.

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ProJo: URI rescinds parking fee after graduate assistants launch protest


Photo from Graduate Assistants United Facebook Page.

About 25 graduate assistants at the University of Rhode Island rallied Tuesday afternoon to protest what their union leader says have been repeated attempts charge them for parking.

The students — some carrying a banner that read “Big Thinkers Deserve More” — stood outside a third-floor hallway in Roosevelt Hall where negotiators for the college and the union were scheduled to meet.

The protest followed a recent posting on URI’s website stating that graduate assistants who commuted to campus and were previously allowed to park for free would be charged $100 for a permit, said Danielle Dirocco, executive director of Graduate Assistants United, which represents over 500 of unionized teaching, research and departmental assistants. The union filed a grievance stating the fee violated their contract.

I’ve seen this news hailed by some as a great progressive victory over the man on social media. My view? Big thinkers don’t pave farm land for free parking.


Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting – August 17, 2015

featured-drc Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting
Monday, August 17, 2015 – 12noon
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call

New Business

  • Memorandum of Understanding between the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and the Downtown Design Review Committee with respect to design review.



Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting – August 4, 2015

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 • 8:00 am
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903


  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Meetings of May 19, 2015 and June 16, 2015
  3. Parcel 12
    Presentation of revised plans for the construction of a new hotel on the property.
  4. Adjournment

ProJo: Tax-break plan for proposed Providence hotel to get a hearing July 23

Fogarty Building

As part of that effort, the developers are asking the City Council to approve an ordinance that would exempt the project from property taxes for three years. Starting in the fourth year of the agreement, the project owners would pay 11 percent of the total taxes due, with the amount then going up by 11 percentage points a year until year 12, when 95 percent of the taxes would be due, followed by full taxation after that.

Though the City Council is a vote away from enacting a tax-treaty process for developers in the Route 195 corridor that doesn’t need council approval, for the rest of the city, the old rules, which include public hearings and multiple council votes, still apply.

Though the Fogarty Building’s destruction has been contemplated many times over the last several years — Procaccianti took out a demolition permit in 2011 but didn’t use it — the Fogarty Building has had its defenders. It is one of the city’s few surviving examples of the “brutalist” architectural style, which features exposed concrete and angular, fortress-like designs. The name comes from the French word for raw concrete, not physical brutality.

This morning, the Procaccianti owned Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot™ has site fencing covering most of it, I don’t know why.


City Plan Commission Meeting – July 21, 2015

CPC City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from June 16, 2015 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Development Review Regulations

1. Amendment of Development Review Regulations – A discussion on the amendments to the City Plan Commission’s Development Review Regulations – for discussion

Zoning Ordinance Amendment

2. Referral 3394 – Zoning Ordinance Amendment regarding student homes – Proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance to create regulations for student homes – for action

City Council Referral

3. Referral 3395 – Abandonment of DeWolf Street1 – The applicant is requesting to abandon the entirety of DeWolf Street, which lies between Audrey Street and Appleton Street to merge it with their abutting property – for action (Olneyville)

Minor Subdivision

4. Case No. 15-024 MI – 32 Luke Street (Preliminary plan approval) – The applicant is proposing to subdivide a lot measuring approximately 15,912 SF into two lots measuring approximately 5,000 SF and 10,912 SF – for action (AP 97 Lot 948, Charles)

5. Case No. 15-028 MI – 342 Eddy Street (Preliminary and Final plan approval)2


Rendering of proposed parking garage at South Street Landing by SGA.

The applicant is proposing to create a new lot measuring approximately one acre from Lot 429 which measures approximately 6.5 acres. The applicant is requesting to combine the preliminary and final plan stages – for action (AP 21 Lot 429, Downtown)

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