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Providence 2013 State of the City Address


Mayor Angel Taveras

2013 State of the City Address

Providence Is Recovering

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 • (as prepared for delivery)

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor's Office.

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor’s Office.

Governor, Mr. President, honorable members of the Providence City Council, distinguished guests, and my fellow residents of our great Capital City –

One year ago I stood before you in this Chamber with an urgent message for our City and the entire State of Rhode Island. Providence was in peril. Despite many difficult decisions and painful sacrifices made to pull Providence back from the brink, we were still $22 million short of closing a $110 million structural deficit.

Crucial steps necessary to navigate our City safely through our Category 5 fiscal hurricane had not yet come to pass. We still needed to reform our unsustainable pensions. And we needed Providence’s large, tax-exempt institutions to contribute more.

As I stood before you on February 13, 2012, Providence was running out of cash, and running out of time. In the months that followed, there were some who said Providence could not avoid filing for bankruptcy.

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Today it is my privilege to deliver a much more hopeful report on the State of our City: Providence is recovering.

Through collaborative efforts and shared sacrifice, we have all but eliminated our City’s $110 million structural deficit, and we expect to end this year with a balanced budget. Working together, we have accomplished what few believed possible.

We were determined to address the root causes of Providence’s fiscal emergency and prepared to act unilaterally if necessary. And we knew our City would never achieve a lasting recovery without addressing our unsustainable and spiraling pension costs.

In April, following months of actuarial analysis and public testimony, this City Council unanimously approved a pension reform ordinance that put Providence’s pension system on a sustainable path.

We recognized that passing the ordinance would likely lead to a high-stakes lawsuit with no real winners – because a decision in favor of the status quo would push our City over the brink. However, faced with the challenge of negotiating pension changes with more than 2,000 retirees who were not represented by a single entity, we saw no alternative.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – January 15, 2013

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development • 1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from November 20th 2012 meeting – for action
  • Approval of minutes from December 18th 2012 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Major Land Development Project

1. Case No. 12-011 MA – 257 Thayer Street (Final Plan Approval) The CPC approved the preliminary plan to construct a four story mixed use building with 95 dwelling units, underground parking and a landscaped courtyard in December 2012. The applicant is seeking final plan approval subject to fulfillment of preliminary plan conditions – for action (AP 13 Lots 42, 48, 104, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238 and 241, College Hill)

See also: UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street

Institutional Master Plan

2. Amendment of Providence College’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) The applicant is seeking to amend the IMP to reflect the institution’s requests for street abandonments and changes to the Institutional Overlay Zone – for action (Elmhurst)

See also: Letter to the campus from P.C.’s President regarding their PILOT agreement

City Council Referral

3. Referral 3359 – Abandonment of portions of Huxley Avenue, Wardlaw Avenue and Cumberland Street Petition by Providence College to abandon Huxley Avenue between AP 119 lot 8 and lot 229 and Cumberland Street between AP 81 lot 189 and lot 195 and Wardlaw Avenue from AP 81 lot 186 to lot 189 – for action (Elmhurst)

4. Referral 3360 – Extension of I-2 overlay zone Petition by Providence College to extend the I-2[1] overlay district to include certain lots on Wardlaw Avenue and Cumberland Street – for action (Elmhurst, AP 81 Lots 186, 188 and 189-196)

See also: Presumed Parking Lot-ification

CPC Administration

5. Election of Officers Election of CPC officers – for discussion and action

Adjournment



[1] I-2 Educational Institutions – This zone is intended to permit higher education institutions and their expansion in a planned manner while protecting the surrounding neighborhoods. (Providence Zoning Ordinance)

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What Cheer / What Jeer 2012

It is that time of year for us to take a look back and What Cheer the good and What Jeer the bad.

whatcheer

Work commences on the Washington Bridge Linear Park

It has been in the works for years, but finally RIDOT has started work on the Washington Bridge Linear Park.

Through a $22 million contract, RIDOT will rebuild the remaining section of the original Washington Bridge that carries the existing bikeway and a section of the original highway bridge. In the same footprint will be a much wider bikeway and linear park. It will feature a separate bikeway and walking path, scenic overlooks, park benches, flag poles, decorative lighting and landscaped planters. The project also calls for restoration of the historic, multi-arch granite façade of the Washington Bridge and two operator’s houses from which an original drawbridge was controlled.

When opened, the new linear park will be named the George Redman Linear Park, after the East Providence resident who was instrumental in making the East Bay Bike Path a reality 25 years ago. Redman continues to advocate for bike path development across the state.


whatcheer

Wind Turbines at Fields Point

While they were installed in January, the whole City was speculating when the would finally start spinning. Turns out they wouldn’t start up until October. But now they are finally spinning and adding some environmental goodness to the Providence skyline. Hope we’ll some more.


whatcheer

Overnight parking expansion

While it has been studied endlessly for years (even as the rest of the world seemed to be able to embrace it and not devolve into chaos), in April, overnight parking has finally started spreading throughout the City.


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Letter to the campus from P.C.’s President regarding their PILOT agreement

This letter was sent to the Providence College campus by college president Rev. Brian J. Shanley regarding the college’s agreement with the City to acquire public streets in exchange for payments in lieu of taxes:

A Message to the Providence College Community:

Providence College is, and always has been, mindful of the significant role that the city of Providence plays in the decision our students make to attend this institution. Providence is a vibrant city with rich history, great restaurants, and myriad tourist and cultural attractions. It is both an alluring and attractive setting for our students and their families. As the leaders of all of Providence’s higher education and major healthcare institutions have noted on multiple occasions, a financially sound city of Providence is critical for the continued prosperity of each of our organizations going forward. With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that the College has reached an agreement with the City that will benefit both parties. The College has agreed to pay the City $3.84 million over a 10-year period to purchase portions of three City streets: Huxley Ave., which runs through the eastern end of the College campus, and both Wardlaw Ave. and Cumberland St. which are part of the northwest border of the campus across from Alumni Hall. (Specifically, the College will purchase Huxley Ave. from Eaton St. to Ventura St., Wardlaw Ave. from Lucille St. to Cumberland St., and Cumberland St. from Wardlaw Ave. to the property line at 30 Cumberland St.)

The College proposed the purchase of these streets in response to the City’s request for additional payments in lieu of taxes. As you may know, the City reached similar agreements of mutual benefit with Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Johnson & Wales University earlier this year. Mindful of the City’s willingness to structure these agreements on a quid pro quo basis, and knowing that they were hopeful of striking some type of arrangement with all of the major non-profit institutions in Providence, the College felt this was the appropriate time to seek the purchase of these streets.

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If you could buy a city street, what would you do with it?

private-street

Photo (cc) Marcin Wichary

After Brown University and then RISD made agreements with the City to acquire parts of public streets for private parking in exchange for increased payments in lieu of taxes; GoLocal Providence reports that the City will make an annoucement tomorrow that Providence College has now made a similar agreement.

So all this begs the question, if you could buy a public street, which one would you want to buy and what would you want to do with it?

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Presumed Parking Lot-ification

House Demolished at Cumberland and Wardlaw Streets

For the past week or so, there has been a string of caution tape between two cones in front of a house on Cumberland St. Next door: a vacant lot, and next to that, a house that has had the same tape and some chain link propped against it for about a year.

A few days ago, I noticed the property behind the cones had its electrical meter and wires disconnected.

Last night, while walking my dog, I happened to catch a Providence College security guard tidying up the caution tape. I asked if he had any news what’s happening with this property. He told me they were being torn down for parking.

“That’s unfortunate,” I said.

He shrugged.

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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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