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UPDATED: City Council to consider abandonment of a portion of Orange Street

orange-street

Orange Street from Weybosset Street. Image from Google Street View

Update: September 8th, 2014

Word on the street is this abandonment is being requested to build a parking garage on the combined lots. Per updated zoning, the garage would require retail frontage on Weybosset Street.

The petition to the City Council pdf was signed by William J. Piccerelli for Weybosset Orange LLC and Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. for 93 Weybosset, LLC.

I do not know if the City Council passed this, if they did, it would then go to the City Plan Commission for review and approval.


The portion of Orange Street sought to be abandoned is flanked by two surface parking lots and runs from Weybosset to Middle Street, the section between the buildings out to Westminster is not part of the abandonment.

29. Petition from Moses Afonso Ryan, 160 Westminster Street, Suite 400, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, requesting to abandon a portion of Orange Street between Weybosset Street and Middle Street.

If the City Council approves this, it will then go to the City Plan Commission for discussion and a vote. No information on what the requested abandonment is for.

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→ ProJo: Providence City Council OKs tax treaty revision for Capitol Cove development

capitol-cove

ProJo reports that the City Council has approved a tax-stabilization agreement for the Capitol Cove building in Capital Center. The building will continue to house Johnson & Wales dormitories but the developer hopes to build a 169-unit apartment building next door.

The City Council gave initial approval Wednesday night to change in a tax treaty with the new owners of the Capitol Cove complex on Canal Street to let the building continue as a rented college dormitory, a move the developers said was needed to get financing for a new 169-unit apartment project they want to build on a vacant lot next door.

Added to the 134-units the owners of the Regency are planning and the real estate market appears to be showing signs of recovery in Providence.

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→ Providence City Council approves ordinances dealing with problem properties

The City Council on November 19th gave final approval to two ordinances relating to vacant and nuisance properties in an effort to improve quality of life and neighborhood stability for city residents.

First, the “Foreclosed and Abandoned Property Registration, Security and Maintenance” ordinance creates a database of vacant and abandoned properties, and requires owners to keep them well-maintained and secured. Second, the so-called “nuisance properties” ordinance is two-fold, and sets new penalties for properties cited for loud and unruly gatherings, and creates a new section on “chronic nuisance properties.”

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Taveras Administration and City Council introduce vacant property registration ordinance

taveras-foreclosure-announcement

Image from Mayor Taveras’ Twitter

A new ordinance introduced by City Councilors Matos and Principe and co-sponsored by the entire Council will require out of state banks and property owners to register their properties and maintain the interior and exterior of their properties. Failure to register or comply will result in violations of $1,000/day up to $100,000.

Mayor Taveras Announces Initiative to Address Foreclosed, Boarded Homes

Proposed vacant property ordinance will hold landlords accountable for maintaining properties; speed revitalization of neighborhoods impacted by national foreclosure crisis

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras today announced his administration’s initiative to strengthen the city’s oversight of foreclosed and abandoned properties and speed the revitalization of neighborhoods impacted by the national foreclosure crisis.

“My administration is working together with the City Council to address the impacts in Providence of the national foreclosure crisis. Owners of vacant and abandoned properties have an obligation to their communities to ensure they are maintained and secured,” said Mayor Taveras. “As Mayor and as a former housing court judge, I’ve seen first-hand how a healthy housing stock acts like an anchor – keeping communities safe and stable.”

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City Council moves to politicize proposed roads bond

dean-street-2009

Dean Street re-construction in 2009. The City of Providence proposes a $40b bond to finance repairs to 62 miles of roads and sidewalks in the City.

As reported by Ian Donnis on RINPR, the City Council is meeting tonight to put a provision in the proposed roads bond bill that would give them control over what streets and sidewalks get repaired in their Wards:

RINPR quotes Councilman Terry Hassett:

That was one of the concerns among the council members — making sure that anything that is distributed through a bond for infrastructure that the council member has a direct and specific role in terms of what streets would get done, what sidewalks, and where the emphasis should be. That was the concern.

Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv Tweets the move could result in a Mayoral veto:


Why? Because there has already been a systematic review of roadways in the city that need attention and 62 miles of roadways have been identified as the ones which will be worked on should this bond pass (I hope to see that list before I’m asked to vote on the bond). The Council argues that they know best what their Wards need. What they know best is which streets getting paved get them the most votes towards reelection.

There’s also the simple matter that the bond money should not be equally dispersed among the 15 Councilors. There are Wards that are in more need than others based on trucking, bus routes, sheer road miles, and other factors that mean they should get more or less money than other Wards.

The City has created a formula to rate roads and determine which need working on, there is no reason the Councilors need any more say over that. If they don’t agree with the formula, then address that, don’t say you get to pick and choose what needs doing under some, “trust me, I know what’s best for my Ward,” song and dance.

See also: RINPR: Providence City Hall slams council faction’s plan for allocating road repair money

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Providence FY 2013 Budget Address

Taveras

Press release from the Mayor’s Office:

Mayor Taveras Presents FY13 Budget to City Council

A Balanced Approach Protecting Taxpayers and Positioning Providence for Future Growth Proposed budget increases tax revenue without raising tax rates, begins to replenish reserves, counts on pension reform and increased contributions from tax-exempts


PROVIDENCE, RI – Delivering an address that outlined his proposed budget for next year to the City Council, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras today presented his progressive vision for moving Providence beyond its fiscal crisis to focus on jobs, economic growth, public education and public safety. The Mayor also called on the City Council to enact legislation reforming Providence’s unsustainable pension system and reiterated his call for all of Providence’s seven large tax-exempt institutions to contribute more to the city.

The Mayor’s proposed $638.4 million budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 holds the line on city spending, collects increased tax revenue without raising tax rates on homeowners, car owners and businesses, and begins to replenish Providence’s rainy day fund. The FY13 budget also counts on reform of city’s pension system and increased contributions from large tax-exempts.

“This budget shows our city successfully pulling back from the brink and positioning for a new era of growth and prosperity,” Mayor Taveras said during his 23-minute address. “But let me be clear: this budget counts on our ability to finish the difficult work of structural reform. It once again relies on increased support from all of Providence’s large tax-exempt institutions. And it rests on the conviction that Providence must finally fix its broken pension system in the days and weeks ahead.”

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Updated: City Plan Commission Meeting – April 24, 2012

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development
1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of meeting minutes from February 28, 2012 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report – DPD personnel changes / CPC membership changes

Minor Subdivision

1. Case No. 12-005MI – 479 Washington Street (Preliminary Plan Approval) The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval to subdivide the existing lot measuring 14,610 SF with two buildings, into two lots measuring 8,438 SF and 6,172 SF. The subdivision would create a separate lot for each building. (Federal Hill, AP 29 Lot 40, C-4) – for action

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Providence City Council Ward redistricting hearings start today

Ward Redistricting

The Committee on Ward Boundaries will hold the first of four public hearings February 14th at 6pm at Nathan Bishop Middle School.

The Committee is seeking public comment on the proposed redistricting of Providence. Ward boundaries are evaluated every ten years, following the decennial census, so that the fifteen wards accurately reflect changes in the city’s population. A map of proposed ward boundary changes may be viewed as a .pdf online here. Current boundaries are outlined in red, and the proposed boundaries are colored as indicated by the map legend.

All hearings will begin at 6pm and are scheduled is as follows:

Both oral and/or written testimony is welcomed from members of the public. Comments also may be submitted no later than February 22nd to: Committee on Ward Boundaries, c/o City Clerk, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903.

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Council names City Administrative Building for former Mayor Joseph A. Doorley

City Administrative Building

Image from Google Street View

Last night the City Council passed a resolution naming the City Administrative Building at 444 Westminster Street after former Mayor Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Doorley, a Democrat was mayor from January 1965 through January 1975, preceeding Buddy Cianci.

Press release from the City Council:

Council Names New Municipal Building After Mayor Doorley

On Thursday, February 2nd, the Providence City Council passed a resolution officially naming the City’s new municipal building after former Mayor Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. “A consummate public servant who helped modernize and revitalize our City, I can think of no one more deserving of this honor than Mayor Doorley,” said Council President Michael A. Solomon (Ward Five).

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City Plan Commission Meeting, December 20

City Plan Commission

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development
1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence

OPENING SESSION

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of meeting minutes from November 15th, 2011 – for action
  • Approval of the CPC meeting schedule for the 2012 calendar year – for action
  • Director’s Report – Discussion of CPC meeting schedule for hearing and approving the revised Comprehensive Plan and for considering changes to zoning for Downtown and the I-195 surplus land

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

1. Comprehensive Plan Update
Complete review of changes to Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan – for discussion and scheduling of public hearing.

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Councilman Sam Zurier on Overnight Resident Parking Permits

Sam Zurier

City Councilman Sam Zurier

East Side Councilman Sam Zurier released a statement [.pdf] to his constituents today about the Overnight Resident Parking Permit Program:

October 3, 2011
Dear Fellow East Siders:

In this year’s budget, the administration resolved to raise $1 million in revenue through the introduction of a city-wide overnight parking permit program. As you may know, a number of Providence neighborhoods introduced overnight parking permits on a trial basis. As you may also know, Providence is one of the few cities of its size nationally without overnight parking, providing a basis for the administration’s initiative.

Before changing the existing law to authorize the program, the Finance Committee asked the administration to present an implementation plan, which the administration did last week. As proposed by the administration, the program will allow two permits per residence for a fee of $100 each. Applicants must have a Rhode Island motor vehicle registration, but a Providence registration is not required. The administration has engaged an outside vendor to permit online application for permits (subject to verification) and enforcement based on recognition of the permit holder’s license plate number. The vendor has trucks that can scan the license plates automatically, and the vendor has stated that two trucks are sufficient to cover the entire City at night. In addition, police and parking enforcement officers can enter the car’s license plate into their own computers with a wireless connection and determine whether the car parking overnight has permission to do so. Overnight parking will be subject to the same limitations as parking during the daytime; for example, an overnight parking permit does not permit one to park overnight in front of a fire hydrant.

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The passing of Councilman Miguel Luna

Councilman Miguel Luna

Photo from Councilman Luna’s Facebook Page

This afternoon we learned the sad news of the passing on Ward 9 Councilman Miguel Luna. The Mayor and City Council issued the following joint statement.

See the end for information about donations in Councilman Luna’s memory:

A Joint Statement from Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence City Council on the passing of Councilman Miguel C. Luna

Councilman Miguel C. Luna passed away this afternoon at Rhode Island Hospital, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his three children, Dante, 13, Sofie, 11, and Omar 9; his mother Mireya; his four sisters, Ysa, Belkiss, Josefina and Teresa; his brother Antonio; and 17 nieces and nephews.

Councilman Luna was an extraordinary humanitarian and humble public servant who identified with those most in need and dedicated his life to promoting workers’ rights and economic justice.

“I am deeply saddened by the untimely passing of my friend and colleague Miguel Luna,” said Mayor Taveras. “Councilman Luna was a great man who made a difference in many people’s lives. I join with everyone in my administration and the City of Providence in mourning his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time. We will honor Councilman Luna’s memory by following his example and continuing his lifelong commitment to advocating for justice.”

Councilman Luna broke down racial and economic barriers when he earned a seat on the City Council in 2003 by beating an incumbent with nearly two thirds of the vote. He was the second Latino Councilman in Providence’s history and the first Dominican American ever elected to the Council.

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We STILL can’t get overnight parking done

Parking Sign

I can’t believe I’m writing about this, still. Last month word on the street was that overnight parking was part of the Mayor’s budget and the whole Council was on board, now…

Well, allowing overnight parking is in the budget (in the budget because it is a revenue generator through permits), but there is a small ordinance amendment needed at the Council level. Now, all of a sudden, the Finance Committee isn’t so sure this is a good idea.

People, we’re the only major city that bans overnight parking, and by overnight, I mean 2am to 5am, THREE HOURS! What in Maude’s name does the Finance Committee think is going to happen if residents are allowed to park their cars on the streets for 3 hours in the middle of the night?

As with all the nonsense in our fair city, there is a Facebook Group that is rallying troops to lobby the Council on this issue and there is a Citizen Speak petition which you can sign.

If you need me I’ll be paving my yard just in case.

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Clearing snow from sidewalks

As I impatiently wait for the first real snowfall of the season, let’s take a minute to talk about removing snow from sidewalks, my favorite topic here on Greater City: Providence.

Back in February, the City Council updated the snow removal regulations, I was somewhat non-plussed by their action. My issues with the update were two; the DPW was given the authority to write citations, then immediately said they did not have the manpower to do so (the Police who originally had all the power here have been saying pretty much the same for years now), and the amount of time to remove the snow was increased from 4 hours after sunrise after the end of the storm to 8 hours.

As I outlined in the post in February, this extension to 8 hours could potentially create a situation where property owners are within the law not clearing their sidewalks for up to 24 hours. Were the roads not even attempted to be cleared for 24-hours, the citizens would rise en masse and burn down City Hall. And as I always say, at some point, every motorist leaves their car and becomes a pedestrian. So why have regulations that are so lax on snow removal when pedestrians are effected, but call out the National Guard if we have to to clear the roads?

In Cambridge, MA, a city with an online tool for reporting unclear or icy sidewalks, they are clear about when snow and ice need to be removed.

City Ordinance requires property owners to remove snow from sidewalks next to their property or business within 12 hours of daytime snowfall and before 1:00 pm when it has fallen overnight. They must also remove or melt all ice within 6 hours of the time it forms.

Public Works and the Traffic Department work together to enforce this Ordinance. Parking Control Officers in the Traffic Department conduct enforcement on priority pedestrian routes throughout the winter, and Public Works Compliance Officers investigate all complaints received of uncleared sidewalk.

We all have a shared responsibility for keeping our community safe and accessible during winter weather. For you, your neighbors, people with strollers or using wheelchairs, and the many people in Cambridge who walk, please do your part.

That 12 hour window seems excessively long to me, but the other part, the “remove or melt ice” bit is really the major problem in Providence. This week we’ve had two minor little dusters, the streets were barely impacted, but their was enough snow to make the sidewalks slick in some areas, however, I saw no evidence of anyone treating the sidewalks. This is a condition that repeats all winter. Just enough snow to make the sidewalks slick, but not enough where anyone bothers to clear it. And of course, we have absolutely no one doing enforcement because they have all begged off that they don’t have the manpower.

Cambridge also steps up to the plate and addresses the issue of the elderly or disabled who are unable to clear their own sidewalks:

If you are a homeowner on a low income and/or you are elderly or have a disability, you may qualify for the City’s Snow Exemption Program, in which case the City will shovel your sidewalk. To find out whether you are eligible, please call the Cambridge Council on Aging, 617.349.6220 (voice) or 617.349.6050 (TTY).

If you do not qualify for an exemption, the Council on Aging can provide you with a limited list of professional snow removal companies and a list of students who want to earn money by shoveling – you contact the student yourself and negotiate a price.

That’s what civilization looks like folks. A city that realizes it is located in a geographic area that has seen snow for millennia somehow manages to find itself unsurprised by this climatological situation and has created regulations and programs to deal with it.

We have a new Mayor, and largely new City Council, and importantly a new Public Safety Commissioner starting work in under two weeks. It can never be too soon for them to get to work ensuring that our city is navigable for all citizens all year long. The Public Safety Commissioner should work with the Mayor and the City Council to determine how to tackle the public safety threat which is snow and ice covered sidewalks. The answer cannot continue to be that it is the responsibility of a department who cries that they do not have enough manpower.

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Thoughts on the Councilman Hassett hit and run

Atwells Avenue. Image from Google StreetView

First, this goes without saying, but let’s say it because I’m about to get angry. Our thoughts (and I’m sure for those of us that do so, prayers) are with Councilman Hassett and his family and friends, and we hope for nothing but the speediest and fullest recovery for the Councilman and to see him back at work at City Hall soon.

Now’s the part of the post where I start to get angry. First I’m going to get angry at myself. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are such a common place occurrence around here, and the section of Atwells where the Councilman was hit is among the most common, that I barely think about it anymore. It is simply part of the landscape. Like changing leaves, or students coming back to town.

The Journal reports:

The accident was the second severe mishap on that part of Atwells in five days.

A week ago, Brittany DeQuattro, whose home address the police withheld, suffered leg fractures and severe head cuts on her 22nd birthday when she got out of a parked car and was struck by the eastbound car of a hit-and-run driver in front of 422 Atwells. DeQuattro was hospitalized for a time and Zienowicz said she is expected to fully recover. The incident remains under investigation.

The scene is near the intersection of Atwells and Marcello Street, where a car driven by an off-duty policeman on a rainy night in December 2005 struck and killed a young woman pedestrian. The policeman was not criminally charged.

In October, Ericka Manzo, 25, was seriously injured near 216 Atwells when she was struck by a car driven by an allegedly drunken man as she crossed the street at about 1 a.m. The man was criminally charged in the hit-and-run accident.

People have been talking for years about the need for safety improvements along Atwells, where the speed limit is 25. After the 2005 fatality, the city did install more speed-limit signs.

That list does not include the elderly gentleman who jumped the sidewalk and slammed into the facade of Siena last Tuesday (thankfully no one on the sidewalk or in the restaurant were hurt).

Photo by Jim Beller

It also does not mention the person who was struck earlier this year prompting then Council-candidate Steven Meresi to get Traffic Engineering to install a crosswalk at the western end of Atwells, not far from where the Councilman was struck.

See what I mean? It happens all the time, one eventually gets outrage fatigue and I’m suffering from a severe case of it. I’m tired of being tired of hearing about people being run down in the streets and now I’m angry.

I’m also angry at the rest of the media. Of course the reaction to a City Councilor being struck by a car will be different than a private citizen as far as the media is concerned. More people know the Councilor, so it is a bigger story, we all know what a City Councilor is even if we don’t know the specific person. So it is a big story, OK. But look back up at that list from the Journal, someone in the newsroom could have picked up on that years ago and made a bigger deal of it.

I’m also angry with the City Council and the Mayor. The Journal goes on to write:

Lombardi said he asked Mayor David N. Cicilline’s staff to spend federal aid under the Obama economic stimulus bill on traffic-calming measures on Atwells but was told that the work was “not shovel-ready” and did not qualify. Lombardi insisted that preparation had been made and it did qualify.

“Obviously, [traffic] enforcement would be nice there, too,” he said. “People pick up speed. It’s difficult to see at night.”

It is no secret that the Mayor and Lombardi are not exactly friends. Somehow Steven Meresi, who at that point was just a regular citizen, got Traffic Engineering to install a crosswalk within days of someone else being struck, but Lombardi has not been able to get any serious action in decades in office. Was Cicilline playing politics with people’s lives? Was Lombardi not trying hard enough to rectify a deadly situation? I’ll let you dear reader be the judge.

I’m also angry with Traffic Engineering. The Councilor and the Mayor should not even have had the opportunity to bicker over this issue, Traffic Engineering should have identified the problem (or PPD should have identified it for them), and worked up a solution. If not to engineer roadways so that people are not struck down on a regular basis, then what is Traffic Engineering for? I will be asking the next Mayor to look into Traffic Engineering, determine what their function should be, and urge him to work to make them more effective.

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