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Mayor Elorza vetos City Council Resolution regarding bike lanes

Mayor Elorza speaking at ribbon-cutting of Fountain Street bike lane in November 2016

Last week the Providence City Council passed a Resolution calling for, “full traffic impact and economic impact studies prior to deciding whether to construct new bicycle lanes.”

Bicycle and transportation advocates, along with the Mayor and at least 5 members of the Council hold that these studies would out unnecessary expense in the way of expanding bicycle infrastructure within the city. The Mayor vetoed the Resolution.

From the Mayor:

I vetoed the Providence City Council’s resolution regarding bike lane planning because it sends the wrong message about bicycle and pedestrian safety here in Providence. We support Complete Streets here in our city, meaning that our infrastructure is designed and operated for safe access for all users, of all abilities. We will continue to engage the community in these decisions and we remain committed to working with the Councilmembers to address any concerns they have heard from constituents.

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Providence 2017 State of the City Address

Image from the Mayor’s Twitter feed

Mayor Jorge Elorza delivered his 2017 State of the City Address on February 1st. Below is the text of the address from the Mayor’s Office:


Changing The Narrative About Providence

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Council President Aponte, Members of the City Council, Members of the General Assembly and fellow residents.

It’s been two years since I took office and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the residents of this city as Mayor. I’ve had a chance to meet with residents from every corner of the city and from every walk of life. I’ve scheduled community conversations in every neighborhood and coffee hours in every ward. I’ve visited every school in the city and just about every park, field and court in Providence. I’ve visited scores of businesses and have attended as many events as can fit on a person’s schedule.

At every point, I’ve tried to interact, listen and learn from our friends and neighbors. And what I’ve learned throughout the past couple of years is what makes me more optimistic than ever about the potential we have here in Providence. I’ve learned that our residents’ commitment to Providence is second to none. The connection that we have to our individual neighborhoods is unlike anything you’ll see throughout the state. The kindness that I’ve seen towards others, convinces me that you won’t find a more compassionate group of residents anywhere else. And, the amazing work that’s done in our neighborhoods convinces me that when we’re working together, we’re capable of accomplishing anything.

Now, we’ve had challenges in the past and while it is important to understand the root of those challenges, it is far more important to find solutions. After all, we are elected and placed in these positions to move the city forward. Fellow residents, every decision that I have made has been with my eye towards 5 and 10 years into the future and I’ve focused not only on where we want to be and how to get there, but also on how we’re going to sustain it by doing it together.

Providence is a special city with no shortage of strengths that we have to build off of. But it is also fair to say, that we still have not fully unlocked the potential of our people and our institutions. You see, there are four key challenges (each decades in the making) that we must address to create the strong and sustainable future that our city deserves; and it is these four areas (Finances, Infrastructure, Schools, and City Services) that I’ve been focused on these past 2 years and that I need your continued help to address.

When I took office, we got to work to ensure that the city’s finances were healthy. And just as a doctor would treat a patient, we made sure that we stopped the bleeding first. At the end of fiscal year 15, the city faced a $13M cumulative deficit. Effectively, this is money that we owed on the city’s credit card. But with the support of the City Council, and by reforming the way we put the budget together, eliminating almost every one-time, short-term solution, renegotiating contracts, and keeping track of every cent that comes in and out, we ended the following fiscal year with the largest operating surplus in the city’s records. And, this means that we’ll be paying off the cumulative deficit three years sooner than anyone expected.

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James Kennedy: The Elorza Challenge

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Mayor Elorza at Bike-to-Work Day, from his Facebook page.

This post was written by James Kennedy and was originally published on his website Transport Providence and RIfuture.org.

Mayor Jorge Elorza bikes to work everyday, and takes part in frequent night rides with community members. By all accounts the mayor is supportive of bicycling. However, Providence has made next to no progress on bike infrastructure during the two years the mayor has been in office. This needs to change.

I want to be really clear about what I’m saying. I can’t fully diagnose what the internal politics of why Providence hasn’t gotten infrastructure are. It’s very possible that an intransigent Providence City Council, inter-agency struggles with state-level institutions like RIDOT, or some other cause is to blame. When I say that the mayor needs to step up, I’m not trying to insult the difficulty of being mayor, or saying that the mayor is a bad person.

But Providence has seen the mayor step up on some issues, and his vocal leadership has had an effect. Just recently, Mayor Elorza spoke eloquently to the harm of liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plants, a move which put him in direct contradiction with Governor Raimondo. This move came after the Sierra Club of Rhode Island challenged the mayor to speak up clearly on the issue. I am making the same request.

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City proposes $40 million Neighborhood Infrastructure Bond

cone-down

You may remember in 2012, the Taveras administration proposed, and voters passed a $40 million bond to fund road work within the city; with the City Council trying to politicize the process along the way.

It looks like this time around, the bonding will be for infrastructure beyond just road paving, which could be a worthy investment. I’d like to see how the City plans to prioritize spending and am hopeful we can avoid messy politics with the City Council this time around.

From the City of Providence:


Providence Seeks $40 Million for Stronger Neighborhoods, Infrastructure

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced the city’s plan to seek a $40 million Neighborhood Infrastructure Bond to make needed investments and build stronger neighborhoods throughout the capital city.

“Making the necessary long term investments in our infrastructure is an essential component of building stronger and more vibrant neighborhoods across Providence,” said Mayor Elorza. “The Neighborhood Infrastructure Bond will work to improve every neighborhood, and will continue to lay the foundation for a long term capital improvement plan that invests in repairing our streets, sidewalks, parks, recreation facilities, and other critical infrastructure.”

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Mayor Elorza signs executive order giving more planning input to Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission

bpac

From the Mayor’s Office:


Providence to Give Commission Greater Input into Planning for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced an effort to revamp the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) by signing an executive order granting the commission more say over where bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure investments, such as crosswalks and bike lanes, are implemented and how they are designed.

“Having safe areas for pedestrians and bicyclists are one of the keys to having the fittest city in the country,” said Mayor Elorza. “I am looking forward to hearing input from the commission to ensure safety for all that walk and ride.”

Under the executive order, most major street and sidewalk repair or construction projects within Providence will come before the Providence BPAC for review at two points during their conception and design phases.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – March 16, 2016

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building 444 Westminster Street, First Floor Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll call
  2. Approval of January meeting minutes
  3. Welcome from Mayor Jorge Elorza
  4. Presentation on Bike Plan Update from DPD staff
  5. Public comment on needed improvements to bicycle lanes and other bicycle infrastructure throughout Providence
  6. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this commission.
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WPRI: Here are the 32 construction projects Mayor Elorza is touting for 2016

waterplace-cranes-2006

Cranes used to construct the Waterplace towers in 2006

Dan McGowan put together a comprehensive list of developments planned for the city in the next year or so. As the past has shown though, we should be careful not to count our Vaporscapers before they’ve hatched.

From the massive life-sciences complex on the former I-195 land to a small expansion of a metal company near the port of Providence, Mayor Jorge Elorza says Rhode Island’s capital city will see between $500 million and $700 million in new construction in 2016.

In his State of the City address last week, Elorza said the city expects more than 30 “major construction projects” to break ground this year, part of a once-in-a-generation boom that could provide a significant boost to the city’s coffers through new tax and permitting revenue.

So where are these new projects located?

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Providence State of the City Address

elorza-sotc-2016

Image from the Mayor’s Office

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza delivered his State of the City address in the City Council Chambers yesterday evening. Below is the text of the address as released by the Mayor’s Office:


Mayor Jorge O. Elorza

2016 State of the City Address

Leading the Providence Resurgence

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (Prepared as delivered)

Thank you. Good evening everyone; Buenas noches a todos.

Mr. President, honorable members of the City Council and fellow residents of our great City of Providence

It used to be said that you had to “know a guy” to get things done in City Hall. The message I want everyone to hear is that now, “you all know a guy in City Hall”. All you have to do is call 421-CITY.

A little over a year ago in my inaugural address, I said we were going to build the new Providence — a city that works for all of its residents, a city committed to innovation, and a city that provides opportunity for all.

Over the past year, we’ve come a long way in achieving that vision, and while there are still many challenges, I’m proud of what we have accomplished together to position Providence for a better future.

And make no mistake, Providence is beginning a resurgence.

This year will see more construction projects than the city has seen in decades. It will see our school department restructured to better meet the needs of teachers and families. It will see a City Hall that becomes known for being efficient and for responsive customer service. And this year will see us tackle our financial challenges head on with an eye toward the long-term.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – November 18, 2015

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
November 18, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

bpac-round

  1. Roll call
  2. Approval of meeting minutes from October Commission meeting
  3. Reading of a response regarding BPAC recommendations to Mayor Elorza – update on advancement of several key recommendations
  4. Discussion and identification of intersections where the timing of pedestrian crossing signals needs to be improved
  5. Discussion and identification of intersections where crosswalks need to be improved
  6. Discussion and identification of priority areas for snow removal
  7. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Pride Flag Raising & Reception – June 5, 2015

city-hall-pride-2014

From Rhode Island Pride’s Facebook page:


Join Mayor Jorge Elorza and the City of Providence for the annual raising of the rainbow flag to officially kickoff the 2015 Rhode Island Pride season! The flag raising will take place at 5:30pm on the steps of the Providence City Hall.

Following the flag raising, there will be a FREE cheese fondue reception and cash bar at The Melting Pot at Providence Place from 6:15-7pm.

Be sure to stay for dinner! 25% of your total bill at the Melting Pot (food and drinks) will be donated to RI Pride!

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ProJo: R.I. Senate Majority Leader Ruggerio wants state control of taxes on former Rt. 195 land, tax-stabilization deal

ridot-195

Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio expects to submit legislation Thursday that would establish state control over the taxes to be paid on former Route 195 highway parcels in the capital city, creating a 20-year tax-stabilization agreement for private developers and removing the city’s control over what taxes would be paid.

Ruggerio led work in 2011 to create the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which now owns 26 acres of former highway land and seeks to develop the land in a way that stimulates the state’s economy. The land panel just last week extended the deadline for a private developer seeking to build on the land to get a tax-stabilization agreement with the city.

“The administration and the I-195 commission have repeatedly stated they cannot successfully encourage development without the City of Providence creating tax-stabilization standards. Unfortunately, the establishment of clear and predictable tax rates for the I-195 district have not come to fruition,” Ruggerio said in a statement. “We cannot afford to wait any longer. The development of I-195 is critical to Rhode Island’s economic recovery and this legislation will encourage investment, job creation and economic growth.”

I think the City has not been fast enough in moving on their part of getting the land developed. However, I think the administration and the City Council are waiting to hear from the State how we’ll be reimbursed for creating these incentives that theoretically are boosting the economy of the entire state, not just Providence.

Providence carries a heavy burden of hosting so many jobs and so much infrastructure that makes the very existance of this state possible, but doesn’t get very much back for its trouble.

Ruggerio said he last met with Elorza probably in February, but he hadn’t shared his legislation with Elorza before releasing it today.

Well that is just rude. If you’re representing my city, and you’re moving to take away my taxing authority, a phone call or a text, maybe a fax, is in order.

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Performers announced for June Providence International Arts Festival #PVDfest

providence-festival

At a press conference yesterday, Mayor Elorza announced some of the performers that will be part of the 1st Annual Providence International Arts Festival, June 11-14, 2015. Below is a long press release from the Mayor’s Office. Also find information at pvdfestival.com:


The Providence International Arts Festival Extensive Artist Roster Announced

Mayor Elorza Announces Artist Roster for Signature Festival to Showcase Local, National and International Artists

Mayor Jorge Elorza and FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher today announced the artist roster for the PROVIDENCE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL set for June 13th, 2015, with extended events taking place June 11th-14th. In this first-ever signature event, arts and culture stage a friendly takeover of the city with 500 artists, 30 public art installations, 15 stages, 18 participating venues, 6 outdoor bars, 3 jaw dropping spectacles, and much more. The dramatic scale and scope of this marquee Festival in the “Creative Capital” of Rhode Island is due to the public-private partnership forged between the City’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and FirstWorks, a Providence-based non-profit organization dedicated to building community through the arts. Festival lead sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, Providence Tourism Council, the Rhode Island Foundation, along with key support from IGT (formerly GTECH), and The Avenue Concept. All main Festival events are free and open to the public.

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Providence Bike to Work Day – May 15, 2015

bike-to-work-2015

From the Facebook event page:


Friday, May 15, 2015
7:30am – 9:30am
Burnside Park

With spring in the air, the City of Providence and the RI Bicycle Coalition invite you to celebrate Bike to Work Day as part of National Bike Month.

Free coffee and food will be provided to participants. Other activities include:

  • Bike demos
  • Raffles
  • Bike-powered charging station for your electronics
  • Photo booth
  • Information from community organizations and local vendors

Mayor Elorza is excited to demonstrate his support for bike commuting by leading one of the six bike trains to Bike to Work Day! Join one of these 1-3 mile trains starting in different locations across the city. Meet your bike train leaders at one of the following stops at 7:30am to bike downtown together.

  • Train 1 starting location: Neutaconkanut Recreation Center – Mayor Elorza’s train!
  • Train 2 starting location: Mount Pleasant High School
  • Train 3 starting location: Lippitt Park
  • Train 4 starting location: Roger Williams Park
  • Train 5 starting location: Wayland Square
  • Train 6 starting location: Coventry Bike Path– intermediate level – captains will also lead a ride home at the end of the work day
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I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – April 6, 2015

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, APRIL 6, 2015, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

195-roundI. Public Session

  1. Welcoming Remarks by Governor Raimondo.
  2. Welcoming Remarks by Mayor Elorza.
  3. Welcome by Chairperson Joseph Azrack.
  4. Executive Director’s Report and Review of Materials, and Introduction of Commission Consultants, Fuss & O’Neill and DK Communications.
  5. Presentation by Lisa Pinsonneault of Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office regarding Open Meetings Act.
  6. Discussion and Adoption of Revised 2015 Commission Meeting Schedule, May – December.
  7. Discussion and Vote regarding Adoption of the 2014 City of Providence Zoning Ordinance.
  8. 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).

    III. Public Session

  9. Chairman’s Remarks.
  10. Vote to Adjourn.
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Mayor Elorza on MORE SNOWS!!!!

snow-ripta-2015-02-14

From Mayor Elorza:


I want to reach out as yet another snow storm arrives in Providence this evening. Six to fourteen inches of snow is expected by tomorrow.

Here are steps we are taking to prepare for the storm:

  • A citywide parking ban begins at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday, February 15 and will remain in effect until further notice. We urge everyone to comply with the parking ban, so crews can plow our streets. Cars parked on the street once the parking ban is in effect will be ticketed and towed.
  • We also ask residents and businesses to shovel their sidewalks so people can safely get around our city. This is an important public safety concern. The City has begun giving fines to those who still have not cleared snow from the sidewalk in front of their home or business.
  • Trash and recycling collection will continue on a holiday schedule, with a one day delay.
    This winter has brought historic snow to Providence and we have been working around the clock to make every road passable and widen our busiest corridors. We’ve moved truckloads of snow to empty parcels throughout the city and we will continue to clear the snow long after the storm passes.

There is no challenge we cannot overcome when we come together as a community. So to everyone who lives, works and does business in Providence – thank you.

Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we continue to make it through this historic winter, and thank you for all you do for Providence.

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Déjà vu

I’m pretty sure RIDOT sent this same exact Tweet last time we had a giant storm and I sent the exact same reply.

Also, the Mayor wants all the sidewalks clear by tomorrow afternoon, but don’t ever put any snow on the street!

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Mayor Elorza’s Inaugural Address

elorza-inauguration

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza Inaugural Address Monday, January 5, 2015 (as prepared for delivery)

Building the New Providence

Friends, family and guests – good afternoon, and welcome to Providence!

I want to begin by thanking some very special people in my life.

I want to recognize my mother and father. All I can say is thank you for everything you have done. You are my heroes and everything I do is to make sure that all your efforts were not in vain. Los quiero mucho y me siento tan orgulloso de ustedes.

Thank you to my sister, my brother-in-law and my nephew and niece. I love you so much and thank you for always being by my side.

Thank you, Stephanie, for being with me every step of the way and for inspiring me with your courage and your strength. I love you, baby.

A Proud Heritage

My parents came to this country to work in our factories and to strive for a better life. They chose Providence because this city offered the promise of steady work and it was a tolerant community that would embrace and welcome them. They came to work hard, and they made sacrifice upon sacrifice to build a life of even greater opportunity for my sister and me.

My family’s story is also Providence’s story. From its founding, Providence has been a city that offers the promise of a new beginning. And generations of families just like my mine have come here in search of that same promise, ready to make the same sacrifices.

Exactly four decades after my family arrived in this country in 1975 with little more than the shirts on their backs, we stand proudly as a family on the steps of City Hall as an example of what dedication, sacrifice, humility and industry can help us achieve. Ladies and gentlemen, the American Dream is still alive, and it is our responsibility to see to it that it endures for generations to come.

Most of the factory jobs that once existed slowly yet surely left our city, changing who we are in the We are no longer the industrial city we used to be; but that’s alright. We have to build the New Providence, along with a new economy, a new identity, and a new purpose. I stand before you with great optimism that by coming together and capitalizing on the many wonderful opportunities that our city offers, we will build this New Providence.

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We officially have a new Mayor!

I’m not sure I ever realized this was a thing before, but apparently new Mayors are traditionally officially sworn in at midnight on inauguration morning. And sticking with tradition, Providence’s 38th Mayor, Jorge Elorza was officially sworn-in very early this morning (or late last night) at his home.

Press release from the City with details on the official swearing-in earlier today and the ceremonial swearing-in today at 2pm and other inaugural events today:


Jorge O. Elorza Sworn in as 38th Mayor of Providence

JOE_Interfaith breakfast.inddPROVIDENCE, RI – Jorge O. Elorza was sworn in at 12 a.m. today as Providence’s 38th Mayor. The private ceremony, which marked the official transition of power in the City of Providence, was held at Mayor Elorza’s home with family and friends. Probate Court Judge John E. Martinelli administered the oath of office.

Elorza, 38, a former Housing Court Judge and professor at the Roger Williams University School of Law, is the son of Guatemalan immigrants who worked in factories and was raised in the city’s West End. He graduated from Classical High School before going on to the University of Rhode Island and Harvard Law School.

As a law professor at Roger Williams University, Mayor Elorza co-founded the Latino Policy Institute, a think-tank dedicated to research on Latino and minority communities in Rhode Island. While serving on Providence’s Housing Court, Mayor Elorza created a process to hold large banks accountable for abandoned properties in the city.

Mayor Elorza began his first morning as Mayor by joining with local faith leaders at an Interfaith Breakfast held at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.

Mayor Elorza’s public inauguration will take place today at 2 p.m. on the steps of City Hall, in front of an anticipated crowd of several hundred residents and dignitaries. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

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