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Guest Post: A Trip to Newport; The Breakers Welcome Center

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The Breakers in Newport

An anonymous reader is taking the readers of Greater City Providence to Newport and laying out the proposal set forth by the Preservation Society of Newport County to construct a permanent welcome center on the grounds of the landmark property, The Breakers.

The city of Newport has long been the center of tourism for Rhode Island and much of southern New England. Known for its sandy beaches, sailing, historic architecture spanning three centuries, superb dining, art galleries, and historic landmarks, the city by the sea has welcomed millions seeking to explore, learn, relax, and to enjoy themselves. Tourism is on the rise and museums are in the midst of creating world-class visitor centers meant to provide the proper introduction to an institute, property, or collection. In late August 2012, an article published by the Newport Daily News announced plans by the Preservation Society of Newport County to construct a 3700 sq ft ‘welcome center’ on the grounds of The Breakers. Plans were not yet finalized; however, the Preservation Society had announced that the architectural firm of Epstein-Joslin of Cambridge, MA had been chosen to design a structure that would fit into the historic grove and landscape of the organization’s flagship property.

The intent is to clear away unsightly and temporary structures that house a ticketing venue, seasonal portable toilets, and a vending machine and replace them with a permanent structure. The new structure will house restrooms, café, and ticketing venue.

As the flagship property, The Breakers receives roughly half of the visitor attendance that the Society will see annually and collectively in a collection of eleven historic properties. That equals to nearly 400,000 visitors out of 800,000 that will tour the great mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893-1895. The Breakers is one of the top five most-visited house museums in America, among the notables: Biltmore, Monticello, and Mount Vernon. The Preservation Society is also one of the top four major cultural organizations in New England with the other three in Boston; the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Comparing to other institutions, the accommodations at The Breakers is subpar.

The proposal, as announced, sparked a wave of letters sent to the Newport Daily News, Newport This Week, and the Providence Journal. Most were against the proposal in various tones, fearing business would be lost at area establishments that are dependent on tourism traffic to the mansions on Bellevue Avenue, while others pointed at historic preservation and the thought of the fabric of the landscape being forever ruined. Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons to not build a visitor center period, especially on the grounds of the mansion.

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2012 Rhode Island statewide ballot questions

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We ran down the list of 11 City of Providence ballot questions in a previous post, here are the statewide questions on the November 6th ballot.

Update: All statewide ballot questions passed however, voters in Newport rejected a casino at Newport Grand.
Find further details about each ballot question and information on how to vote in the Rhode Island Voter Information Handbook 2012

QUESTION 1:

1. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL
(APPROVAL OF AN ACT AUTHORIZING STATE-OPERATED CASINO GAMING AT TWIN RIVER IN THE TOWN OF LINCOLN)

(Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution)

Shall an act be approved which would authorize the facility known as “Twin River” in the town of Lincoln to add state-operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling it offers?

APPROVE
REJECT


QUESTION 2:

2. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL
(APPROVAL OF AN ACT AUTHORIZING STATE-OPERATED CASINO GAMING AT NEWPORT GRAND IN THE CITY OF NEWPORT)

(Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution)

Shall an act be approved which would authorize the facility known as “Newport Grand” in the city of Newport to add state-operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling it offers?

APPROVE
REJECT

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News & Notes

→ Dallas Covers Highway with Greenery – Cities are increasingly decking highways with piles of greenery and new development. [Governing]

I’m looking at Route 10 at Olneyville, Route 95 from Broad to Atwells, Route 95 between Garden and George in Pawtucket, Route 95 next to the State House…

→ Parking Management That Actually Manages Parking [Bill Fulton, Mayor of Ventura Blog]

Some shoppers have complained over the past few months that parking at the mall is free, so why should they pay to park downtown? The answer — provided by Downtown Ventura Organization board chair Dave Armstrong — is that you’re paying for access to a few hundred premium spaces. And he’s right. After all, all the mall parking spaces are far away from the stores — farther than even the most remote free lot downtown. If it was possible to drive right inside the mall and park in front of your favorite store, don’t you think the mall would charge for that space? And don’t you think some people who think it’s worth it would pay the price? Obviously, the answer to both these questions is yes.

→ A Portland group pulverizes pavement to make way for green space [Grist]

→ Newport: Making Transportation Holistic [RI Future]

On September 15th, the Newport City Council passed a Complete Streets resolution, becoming the first municipality in Rhode Island to give equal consideration to all road users in its planning rather than giving primacy to automobiles. Redesigning our streets to be more inclusive of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders will be a boon to our quality of life by improving the environment, the local economy, and our health.

Dearest Providence, why are we letting Newport take the lead on this? Step it up!

→ Nissan’s smug (?), cute (?), ironic (?) polar bear Leaf ad [Grist]

But let’s take a look at the claim that climate-endangered mammals will thank you for buying a Leaf — which goes on sale later this year for as low as $21,000 in California and Georgia, and slightly more in other states.

An electric car might be superior to the gas-burner you own now, except that it still takes plenty of embodied energy to produce a new car. If buying a Leaf earns you a bear hug, then hanging on to a reasonably efficient ride for a few extra years probably deserves one too.

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News & Notes

→ Preserving modernism in Boston: making the case [Boston.com]

→ Andrew Knee: Milwaukee – A Walker’s Paradise [UrbanOut]
“And the latest venture is a broad swath of land called the Park East, where a freeway was recently torn down and the street-grid was reassembled.”

→ Sound wall made of vegetation to be studied by ODOT as alternative to concrete wall [Cleveland.com]
I’m thinking of Route 195 in the Gano Street area.

→ London Opens Bike “Superhighways” [GOOD]

→ Worst. Intersection. Ever. [Car-Free in PVD]

→ Sen. Kerry docks yacht in R.I., saves on taxes [MSNBC]
Yes, the story has gone national. The Senator’s people claim the boat is in Newport for “for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes.” Whatever, I just like the headline telling rich people to come to Rhode Island for our low taxes. Bring your yachts and spend some money while your here.

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News & Notes

→ 2 year closure of Union Avenue Bridge over Route 10 prompts free RIPTA service for pedestrians impacted by closure [ProJo]. With Route 18 only running 17 times on weekdays and not at all on Sundays and Holidays, I’m glad I don’t live on the farside of Union Avenue.

→ Four Projects to Watch (And Seven Others to Remember) [NewportNow]

Not About the Buildings Spelling Bee June 21st, AS220.

→ City panel to decide on rezoning Allens Avenue [PBN]

→ Topological crime maps of San Franscisco [Strange Maps]

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Reader Submissions: Shorpy.com


November 1912. Central Falls, Rhode Island. View of privies, garbage dumps, etc., in back yards near Bed-bug Alley and High Street. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine for the Child Welfare Exhibit of 1912-13. via: Shorpy.com

A reader sent me some links from a site I hadn’t heard of, Shorpy.com. Shorpy.com describes itself as, “History in HD is a vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.”

All of the photos on the site are interesting, and there are some from Rhode Island. Though these are not your typical photos of a hazy glorified yesteryear. In fact, most of these photos highlight child labor in the mills of Rhode Island around the turn of the last century. Something that we don’t look back on very often.

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