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→ WPRI: Providence mayoral candidates spar in first TV debate

wpri-debate

The three candidates for mayor of Providence promised to spur economic development, improve schools and add police officers during their first televised debate Tuesday, making the case that the city is plagued by poor finances and crime.

The debate between Democrat Jorge Elorza, Republican Daniel Harrop and independent Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. was held at Rhode Island College was sponsored by WPRI 12 and The Providence Journal.

The candidates are running to replace outgoing Mayor Angel Taveras, who is leaving City Hall after one term in office following his loss in the Democratic primary for governor Sept. 9.

Watch the full debate on WPRI.com
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→ ProJo: Wider Washington Bridge bike path across Seekonk River to open in November

washington-bridge-linear-park

An 11-foot-wide bike lane, yet to be paved, runs the length of the bridge from East Providence to Providence. Alongside it, but separate, is a partially poured, stamped-concrete 7-foot-wide path for walkers. At the center and widest part of the span, a small park is taking shape with expansive water views.

In the summer of 2012, the Department of Transportation closed the span — along with its narrow and harrowing path for bikers and walkers — to begin the $21.8-million “linear park” project. More than two years later, it’s expected to reopen, largely on schedule, in November.

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→ PBN: Long-planned pedestrian bridge closer to reality

providence-river-pedestrian-bridge-original-design

The original winning design scheme for the Providence River Bridge.

The first permanent structure to rise from Providence’s Interstate 195 lands almost certainly won’t be a new office or apartment building, but the long-planned pedestrian bridge crossing the Providence River.

After four years of planning, the 330-foot-long arc connecting new parks planned for both sides of the river is now nearly ready for bids from construction contractors.

[...]

“We are at 30 percent design and on schedule for the project to be bid out by the end of this year,” Bonnie Nickerson, Providence director of long-range planning, said last week. “The details being worked out now are very technical, such as levels of lighting. The structural elements and design decisions have been made and those are solid.”

The Providence Planning Department is having a public informational meeting about the bridge today (Sept. 29th) at 5pm.
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→ Brown Daily Herald: Engineering building plan calls for demolition of historic houses

333-brook-street

333 Brook Street, one of the buildings slated for demolition, see a slideshow of images on the Brown Daily Herald website. Image from Google Street View.

In order to make space for the University’s new engineering building — construction of which is set to begin in December 2015­, four houses included in the city’s historic district have been slated for demolition.

The buildings, located at 37 and 29 Manning Street and 341 and 333 Brook Street, were constructed in the early 1900s and were later acquired by the University and converted into business and academic spaces, said Mike McCormick, assistant vice president of planning, design and construction. McCormick and a group of University administrators collaborated with the Public Archaeology Lab to learn about these buildings’ histories in preparation for the planning and design of the new engineering building.

But the Providence Preservation Society “opposes the demolition of the four houses” due to their “historical” and “architectural value,” said Brent Runyon, executive director of PPS. The buildings also contribute to “the development of College Hill as a neighborhood,” he added.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Legal Issues Subcommittee Meeting – September 24, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014, beginning at 2 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

Call to Order

  1. Approval of the Public Session Minutes of the Legal Issues Subcommittee Meeting held on August 20, 2014.
  2. Rules and Regulations for Permitting Approval – update and review.
  3. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  4. Approval of the Minutes of the Executive Session of the Legal Issues Subcommittee Meeting held on August 20, 2014.
  5. Review of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  6. III. Public Session

  7. Vote to Adjourn.

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Providence PARK(ing) DAY – September 19, 2014

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Union Studio‘s parklet last year. Photo by Rachel Playe

From Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects:


September 19, 2014 8:00am – 4:00pm

Come out and join us for the second annual PARK(ing) Day Providence!

This year, PARK(ing) Day Providence will have 32 parklets in Downtown, the West Side, and the East Side and a protected bike lane on Broadway. We can’t express our thanks enough to the Downtown Improvement District, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, the Department of Public Works, the City of Providence, and all of our amazing sponsors.

Check out the maps to plan your tour of the parklets on the 19th!

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Providence Geeks – September 17, 2014

Providence Geeks Providence Geeks
Wednesday, September 17th, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Welcome back, everyone! Hope you had an awesome August. Providence Geeks goes back to school next week with an excellent September presenter.

What percent of live events sell out? 50%? 20%? Nope… try 2%.

crowdsurfFounded in 2013 by two recent Brown grads, Providence-based Crowdsurf aims to remedy this situation using a combination of geographic and social audience info. Armed with these insights, Crowdsurf’s customers — event venues and promoters — have a much better sense of which acts to book, and how to most effectively promote them.

big-ticketAs the first stage of their rollout this summer, Crowdsurf launched Big Ticket, a mobile app that offers users the chance to reap major discounts on show tickets. The app — currently being piloted in RI, MA, CT and OR — has already enabled Crowdsurf to build one of the largest databases of audience info in the Northeast.

On Wednesday, Co-founders CEO Alex Oberg and CTO Evan Altman will tell the Crowdsurf story, demo their impressive platform, and give a sneak peek at where they’re headed next.

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A Better World by Design Conference – September 19-21, 2014

abwxd-002

Students from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design host seventh annual A Better World by Design Conference

Each fall, A Better World by Design (ABWxD) brings a global community of students, academics, and professionals to Providence, Rhode Island in order to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal: building a better world. Organized by students from Brown and RISD, ABWxD brings together cutting edge alternative content and introduces the next generation of design pioneers. ABWxD rethinks what a conference can actually do.

What: A Better World by Design Conference
Who: Ellen Jorgensen, Co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace • Sarah Williams, Director of Civic Data Design Lab • Melissa Mongiat, Founder of Daily Tous Les Jours • Brian House, media artist • Michael Ben-Eli, Founder of the Sustainability Laboratory • and many more
When: Friday September 19 to Sunday September 21
Where: Campuses of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Why: 2014 attendees can expect the largest lineup yet, drawing from fields such as mapping, interactive art, design policy, and DIY biology. The theme this year is wayfinding, describing a collective design process used to solve social challenges.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – September 15, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on MONDAY, September 15, 2014, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

  1. Welcome by Chairperson: Chairperson Colin Kane.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings Held on August 18, 2014.
  3. Executive Director’s Report – Review of Activities During Past Month and Business Plan for the Period September – December 2014.
  4. Presentation of District Audit by LGCD, District Auditor, and Vote Regarding Acceptance of Audit.
  5. Update from Jones Lang LaSalle on Market Conditions and Strategies for October 15, 2014 RFI Submission Date.
  6. Update from DOT Director Lewis on Work Progress on I-195 Surplus Land.
  7. Discussion and Review of Draft Parks Maintenance and Management Budget.
  8. Discussion and Vote on Allocation of Funds from the EPA Grant to the District.
  9. Update from Counsel Regarding District Permitting Process and Legal Issues Subcommittee.
  10. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  11. Review of Status of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  12. III. Public Session

  13. Chairman’s Report – Review of Activities in Past Month and Proposed Future Activities/ Tentative Agenda for October 20, 2014 Meeting.
  14. Vote to Adjourn.

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UPDATED: City Plan Commission Meeting – September 16, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the August 19th meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

City Council Referral

1. Referral 3382 – Petition to abandon a portion of Stanhope Street – The applicant intends to abandon the portion of Stanhope Street adjacent to AP 97 Lot 12 to add to the area of the lot – for action (Charles)

The Orange Street abandonment has been removed from the CPC Agenda.

orange-street

Orange Street from Weybosset Street. Image from Google Street View

2. Referral 3384 – Petition to abandon a portion of Orange Street – The applicant intends to abandon the portion of Orange Street located between Weybosset and Middle Street and between AP 20 lots 131 and 135 – for action (Downtown)

Continue Reading →

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2014 Mayoral Candidate Survey – Michael Solomon (D)

Michael Solomon’s survey was returned to us this morning a week late, we’ve decided to post it for the benefit of the voters.

Michael Solomon (D)

solomonWebsite: solomonforpvd.com
Facebook: SolomonForPVD
Twitter: @solomonforpvd

Survey

1. Other Cities
It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to best practices. Across the globe small cities like Providence are doing amazing things to make their cities more livable, increase their tax base, and improve services. What city (or cities) do you look to for inspiration of what you would like Providence to be like or to strive for? What are the characteristics of those cities that you think Providence should emulate?

Close to home, I think there are things to learn from Boston. While a much larger city, Boston has created partnerships with its universities and health care institutions that we should seek to emulate here. Whether negotiating payments in lieu of taxes, community investments, or infrastructure improvements, Boston is an excellent model of good relations with its tax exempts. These positive partnerships are also reflected in the success Boston has in retaining college graduates, as so much innovation and job development is connected to its educational and health care institutions.

Portland, Oregon is always cited as a model of good planning, because of its think-outside-the-box approach to transportation, land use, and urban revitalization. In fact, Portland’s streetcar, which transformed the city’s Pearl District, was used as reference as we considered our own streetcar system in Providence. The relationship between fixed rail lines, and economic investment and development along those lines is well-documented, and something Providence hopes to emulate. By connecting the city’s largest employment areas–from the hospitals through the Jewelry District, and to Thayer Street–Providence seeks to replicate Portland’s success in spurring economic growth along the proposed streetcar corridor. Portland is definitely a city we can look to for continued inspiration to reduce our dependency on cars, and to embrace a bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly city.

Denver, Colorado has invested substantially in transit-oriented development, and has transformed a historic area of its Downtown, including the creation of an inter-modal transportation hub at its renovated Union Station. This public-private investment is impressive, and while the scale is vast, Providence can learn from the focused vision, intent, and good planning tools Denver has employed to attract young people, become more walkable and livable, spur economic growth, reinvest in neglected areas, and build on its cultural and creative strengths. Denver also has started a pilot program to ensure that affordable housing is created/maintained when the city expands or develops mass transit. They created an acquisition fund for this purpose, which could become a model for other cities.


2. Snow Removal
The city has an ordinance that states that the abutting property owner must remove snow from sidewalks. This ordinance has gone under-enforced for years creating a major public safety issue for the city’s residents every time it snows. The city and the state are notable offenders in not clearing snow from sidewalks abutting their property (sidewalks abutting parks, public buildings, on overpasses, etc.). How will you hold private property owners, the state, and the City itself accountable for removing snow in a timely fashion, and how will you ensure that snow removal ordinances are enforced?

We constantly encountered this issue in the City Council office, particularly along our main streets. I quickly discovered that when it was a residential or commercial property adjacent to the sidewalk, most property owners were unaware of their responsibilities. As a result, the City Council office sent seasonal communications to property owners to inform them of their responsibilities. Stronger communication and greater access to information is always the first choice. Our inspectors should also be on the lookout for repeat offenders, who again, may not realize it is their responsibility to clear the sidewalk. In the end, public safety cannot be jeopardized, so I would support a measure to have DPW clear the sidewalk and then charge the property owner for the cost associated with clearing the sidewalk.

As far as State and City property is concerned, we are talking about accountability and management. Our first priority is to clear city streets, but snow covered sidewalks pose an equally dangerous threat to pedestrians following a snowstorm. We cannot have our pedestrians–especially students–forced into the road because the City and State have failed to clear an overpass. Through better management of our Department of Public Works we can have cleaner, safer sidewalks in the winter. Similarly, the Department of Public Works should enter into an agreement to clear the snow from sidewalks adjacent to State roads–for example, highway overpasses and bump outs at on and off ramps. It is simply unrealistic to expect the State to clear the snow, and someone should shoulder the responsibility and make sure the job gets done.


3. Street Parking Permits and Snow
The City recently ended its longtime ban on overnight parking introducing a permit system for City residents to park on the street overnight. Allowing residents to park on the street relieves the need to provide off-street parking in paved lots and yards. Reducing this paved area has numerous environmental and quality of life benefits. Unfortunately the City bans parking during heavy snow with no options for people parking on the street, forcing the need for off-street spaces during these storms. Other cities, including Boston, allow street parking during storms, banning parking only on designated emergency snow routes. Would you support allowing people with permits to park on designated streets during snowstorms?

This all comes down to public safety and street width. When the City enacted overnight parking, it designated parking based upon street width because of public safety concerns that arose from congestion. I would want to have a similar conversation with the Traffic Engineer and public safety officials to determine what streets could accommodate such a program. It is certainly counter productive to have an on-street parking program that cannot sustain itself through the winter.


Continue Reading →

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – September 8, 2014

featured-drc Downtown Design Review Committee
Monday, September 8, 2014 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

benevolent

Image from Google Street View

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of July 14, 2014

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 14.16: 1 Chestnut Street (Beneficent House) – Public Hearing Proposal by Beneficent House to replace existing exterior signage on site with a new, consistent signage system. The applicant also requests a waiver from D-1 Regulations prohibiting freestanding signs. The proposal includes the installation of two new freestanding signs, one of which is replacing an existing freestanding sign.

Adjournment


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Capital Center Commission Meeting – September 10, 2014

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 • 12:00 noon
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

capital-center-parking

Image from Bing Maps

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Approval of Meeting Minutes of May 14, 2014 and June 11, 2014
  3. Ratification of Approvals
    Ratification of approvals from the June 11, 2014 CCC meeting
  4. Parcels 3E, 3W, 4E and 4W: Parking Lots
    Request for extension of interim parking lot approvals
    Presenter: Todd Turcotte, Capital Properties
  5. Report of the Chairman
    – Waterplace Park
    – Transit Infrastructure Bond Referendum
  6. Adjournment

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I-195 Redevelopment District Commission – Parks Design Subcommittee Meeting – September 12, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission – Parks Design Subcommittee will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on Friday, September 12, 2014, beginning at 1:30 P.M., for the following purposes
The time for this meeting has been changed to 2:30pm

Public Session

  • I-195 Redevelopment Commission: Commissioners Barbara Hunger, John Kelly, Diana Johnson
  • Jan Brodie, Executive Director
  • Department of Transportation: Lambri Zerva
  • Architects and Engineers: David Freeman, CDR Maguire

Call to Order

  1. Approval of the Minutes of the Parks Design Subcommittee Meeting held on August 19, 2014.
  2. West Side Park: Pavilion – Bathrooms – separate or within single structure, number
    – Further discussion concerning storage and concession
    – Write up a Program of Uses
    – Discussion of contracting for additional scope for alternate designs
  3. Response to Public Comment from August 19, 2014 meeting, including water access
  4. Connections to CityWALK, bicycle lanes, WaterFire, River Walk in connection with South Street Landing
  5. Vote to Adjourn.

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Election News & Information

election-2014

  • The Providence Phoenix is out with their Primary Endorsements
  • ProJo reports on who does and who does not face a Primary challenger among the Providence City Councilors
  • The Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition has their candidate statements from the Gubernatorial and Providence Mayoral Candidates
  • And in case you missed it, we have surveys returned from three Mayoral Candidates
When and where do you vote (hint, the Primary is September 9th)? the Secretary of State’s Office has you covered.
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→ PBN: JWU reveals $40M academic building plan for Jewelry District

jwu-jd

Johnson & Wales University Monday unveiled plans for a new $40 million academic building on former Interstate 195 land in Providence’s Jewelry District.

The building will sit at the corner of Friendship and Chestnut Streets and serve the university’s School of Engineering and Design and College of Arts and Sciences, Johnson & Wales said in a news release.

Very exciting! This will also free up their building at the corner of Westminster and Mathewson for other uses.

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