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News & Notes

Transportation Act Projects announcement

Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announces improvement to Marc train Red Line by Brian K. Slack at Baltimore, MD. Photo (cc) Maryland Gov Pics.

→ The Baltimore Sun: O’Malley to announce $1.5 billion for Baltimore-area transportation projects

Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce $1.5 billion in new state funding for the Baltimore Red Line and more than a dozen other transportation projects in the area Wednesday, officials said, outlining for the first time how the state’s gas tax increase will be tapped to improve local infrastructure and mass transit here.

O’Malley also plans to discuss the state’s interest in attracting public-private partnerships to help fund the Red Line project, and a Dec. 7 start date for weekend MARC train service between Baltimore and Washington, which has never been offered before.

[Baltmore Mayor Stephanie] Rawlings-Blake said the new funding “says that the state is serious about being a partner with Baltimore” to improve connections between transportation options.

“They’re putting their money where their mouth is,” she said. “They’re recognizing that for the state to be strong, Baltimore has to be strong, and it has to be strong as a connected city.”


→ The Boston Globe: Menino pushes plan to boost housing

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to reach his ambitious goal of building 30,000 homes in Boston by allowing taller structures with smaller units, selling public land to developers at a discount, and using subsidies to spur development of more affordable housing, according to a blueprint to be released Monday.

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The Occupation and Public Space

Occupy Providence

Occupy Providence in Burnside Park. Photo © Jonathan Beller from Facebook.

Eventually, at some point, the current situation with Occupy Providence at Burnside Park is going to change. In this post I’m not trying to talk about what the movement is trying to accomplish, or to take a side, or to pass judgement, this is about what that next step could be and how the park can/might play a roll in the future.

As has been widely reported, the City has begun taking action to set up for removing the protesters from the park, Occupy Providence has a copy of the eviction notice from Commissioner Pare here. The notice basically tells protesters they are in violation of a number of city ordinances, most notably, remaining in the park after it closes at 9pm. The notice gives the protesters 72 hours to comply, which would result in them needing to be out by Sunday evening.

Occupy Providence is calling for people to join them on Sunday in the park in an action they are refering to as “Solidarity Sunday” to resist eviction. As the AP reports, Comissioner Pare has stated that the police will not forcibly evict protesters on Sunday evening if they remain in violation of the eviction notice.

Commissioner Steven Pare tells WPRO-AM the city won’t “physically remove them” from Burnside Park and instead will seek to force them out “peacefully and civilly” through the court system.

He said that could take several weeks.

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Dislike: NPPD parked on the sidewalk

North Providence Police car parked on the sidewalk

One would think that the North Providence Police would be aware of their PR problem, but that does not stop them from coming to Providence and parking their cars on our sidewalks.

This is at Richmond and Clifford behind the courthouse, and to be fair (though really, there’s no excuse) the entire sidewalk on Clifford from Dorrance to Richmond is littered with cars; presumably driven by people going to court. Why this is allowed to happen when the Courthouse has a superblock sized parking lot behind it, which is never full, is beyond me.

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Mayor announces layoffs at Providence Police


Photo (cc) appleswitch

City Hall press release on Providence Police cuts:

FACING FISCAL CRISIS, PROVIDENCE TO LAYOFF 60-80 POLICE PERSONNEL

Commissioner of Public Safety to oversee staff reduction, identify best strategies to minimize impact on public safety in Providence

PROVIDENCE, RI – Facing a $110 million structural deficit, Mayor Angel Taveras recently submitted a budget to the Providence City Council that recommends $64 million in spending cuts across City government, including a 10% cut to police and fire budgets.

Following the release of the budget, the Taveras administration continued negotiations with union leadership to realize $6 million in cuts to the police department budget. Union leadership and representatives from the Taveras administration both approached the bargaining process in good faith but have regrettably not been able to achieve these savings without layoffs. Beginning next week, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare will begin proceedings to eliminate 60-80 positions within the department.

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The Providence Public un-Safety Complex

I saw this from one of my Facebook friends and headed by to see for myself on the way home from work today.

Snow plowed from the fire truck garage at the Public Safety Complex onto the sidewalks:

Providence Public Safety Complex

Providence Public Safety Complex

Snow piled on the sidewalk at the cruiser parking lot entrance at the Public Safety Complex, sidewalk beyond untouched covered with snow:

Providence Public Safety Complex

Other sidewalks along Dean and Washington Streets that are not city property but that one of the officers in the hundreds of cruisers that drive by here everyday should have noticed and reported as a safety issue:

Dean Street

Both sides of Dean Street, no sidewalk:

Dean Street

You can pay $5 to park for court, but you can’t actually get out of your car and walk to court:

Dean Street

Washington Street across from the Public Safety Complex:

Washington Street

Washington Street bridge over Route 95:

Washington Street

Washington Street

I was mostly impressed with the new administration’s response to this storm. The Mayor was out in the storm, Twittering away Cory Booker-style. And I absolutely am in love with Chafee after the photo opp. of him shoveling his sidewalk, good move Governor.

But the sidewalk situation is really same as it ever was. I’ve received reports that the Westminster and Point Street overpasses are not clear, and the sidewalks at the Cranston Street Armory (state property) are not cleared. There is no way that any tickets can be written for unshoveled sidewalks when the Public Safety Complex looks like this now is there? Seriously, if you get a ticket, feel free to bring one of these photos to court with you to fight it.

The Meteorologists seem to think that this will not be the last big storm we get this season so the new administration should have another chance to get it right. We’ll be watching.

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“You never know if they can slide into the street, get hit by a car.”

We could live in a city like this too. Check out the full story on Boston.com.

This month’s blizzard has brought a flurry of tickets, 173 yesterday alone, compared with 20 issued in all of December 2009. And officers are out today looking for more violators.

“If I find a violator, I’m going to write a ticket,” Tankle said Monday, as he patrolled South Boston in his truck. “I guarantee it.”

“I guarantee it.” Not, “Who me? That’s not my job!” No, “I guarantee it.”

Meanwhile:

The West Exchange Center on Federal Hill has cleared the sidewalks all around their buildings, but when it comes to their parking lots, the snow clearing turns decidedly auto-centric.

A path from the parking lot to the street, where employees arriving by car can then cross the street and go into their offices.

The sidewalks around the parking lot”¦ Well, I guess none of their employees walk to work”¦ BUT I DO!

Downcity tonight at Exchange Terrace and Francis Street pedestrians line up for a chance to climb through a tiny gap in the snow pile and get to the crosswalk.

I’m assuming the Yellow Jackets actually cleared this then a plow came along and pushed snow from the street back onto the sidewalk blocking the entrance to the sidewalk. Yellow Jackets have been all over the place clearing these situations.

Also, a reader reports:

Old people are walking in Street on Fruit Hill Ave trying to get to Stop and Shop on Manton. Very few sidewalks have been cleared as of 1:30 pm Dec. 29. Even St. Thomas Church has made no effort to clear sidewalk.

Very Dangerous!

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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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