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Providence Preservation Society Symposium – November 6-8, 2014

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The 2013-2014 Providence Symposium speaker series is cultivating an important dialogue on preservation, development and quality of place, with a specific focus on Downtown Providence. From open space to transportation, economic assets to partnerships, we explore the key components in the making of a great city.

The series brings national experts to Providence to talk about creating healthy and successful urban environments. Join us and take part in this critical conversation about our city.

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RIPTA Bus Hub Alternatives Community Meeting in Pawtucket – October 28, 2014

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From RIPTA:


The City of Pawtucket Department of Planning will be holding a meeting to discuss potential alternatives to the existing Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus hub on Roosevelt Avenue. The Department has been working with a consultant, RIPTA and key stakeholders to identify potential alternative stop locations for the ten RIPTA routes that currently begin and end at the 175 Main Street location. The public is invited to attend the City of Pawtucket Hub Relocation Study meeting on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 6:00pm in the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Theatre at 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

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2014 Rhode Island Statewide Ballot Questions

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The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office has released the 2014 Voter Information Handbook . Below is the information about the seven statewide ballot questions which will appear on your November 4th ballot. There’s a lot of reading here to do before you head to the polls.


Question 1 – 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 only and exclusively at the facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road, Newport?

Explanation for Question 1

State Constitutional Approval
(Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at Newport Grand in the city of Newport)

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

In order to reduce the potential adverse effects on State revenues from competition that may come from casino gaming facilities authorized in Southeast Massachusetts, the General Assembly has adopted Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014 to amend Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled “Video Lottery Terminal”. The amendment to Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws authorizes the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport; provided, however, that such act for the expansion of gambling at the facility of Newport Grand shall take effect only if:

(i) this referendum question to approve the act authorizing such expansion of gambling at the facility of Newport Grand, which is being submitted for approval by the electors of the State and the City of Newport in accordance with the requirements of Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution at the general election to be held in November 2014, is approved by both a majority of the electors of the State and a majority of the electors of the City of Newport voting in the referendum; and

(ii) the proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution that is set forth as Question 2 in the statewide referendum to be voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014 is approved by a majority of the electors of the State voting in the referendum.

Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within any city or town in the State of Rhode Island shall take effect until it has been approved by a majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed. The proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution that is set forth as Question 2 in the statewide referendum to be voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014 requires that prior to a change in location of gambling that has been permitted in any city or town by approval of a referendum in such city or town on or after November 4, 2014, there must be a referendum in such city or town and approval by the majority of those electors voting in the referendum on such proposed change in location in the city or town. For a further discussion of this proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, please review the “Explanation for Question 2” set forth in this Voter Information Handbook 2014.

Approval of the act authorizing Newport Grand to engage in state-operated casino gaming will result in Newport Grand being authorized to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the legislation adopted by the General Assembly. However, even if a majority of the electors of the State vote to approve such authorization for Newport Grand to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport, such authorization will not take effect unless: (a) a majority of the electors of the City of Newport voting also approve such referendum question; and (b) a majority of the electors of the State voting approve Question 2 in the statewide referendum being voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014.

In connection with the general election in November 2012 and pursuant to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, referendum questions were presented to the electors statewide and the electors in the Town of Lincoln to authorize an act to allow the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Twin River” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the Town of Lincoln and referendum questions were presented to the electors statewide and in the City of Newport to authorize an act to allow the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport. Although a majority of the electors of the State voting approved such referenda questions and a majority of the electors in the Town of Lincoln voting approved the referendum question with respect to Twin River, a majority of the electors in the City of Newport voting on the referendum question with respect to Newport Grand did not approve the question. As a result, the act to authorize the licensed video retailer known as “Twin River” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the Town of Lincoln went into effect but the act to authorize the licensed video retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport did not go into effect. The conditions for the act now being considered to take effect that would authorize the license video retailer “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport differ from the conditions for the prior act in 2012 to take effect in that this act is not only conditioned upon the satisfaction of the requirements of Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution but also a majority of the electors voting statewide having approved the amendment to Section 22 of Article VI provided for by Question 2 in the statewide referendum.

Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws, as amended, provides that the State of Rhode Island is authorized, subject to the restrictions of Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, to operate, conduct and control casino gaming at Newport Grand to the extent Newport Grand is authorized to engage in casino gaming. It goes on to provide that the State of Rhode Island, through the Lottery Division and/or the Department of Business Regulation, shall have full operational control to operate the Newport Grand facility and the authority to make all decisions about all aspects of the functioning of the business enterprise, including, without limitation, the power and authority to:

(1) Determine the number, type, placement and arrangement of casino gaming games, tables and sites within the facility;
(2) Establish with respect to casino gaming one or more systems for linking, tracking, deposit and reporting of receipts, audits, annual reports, prohibitive conduct and other such matters determined from time to time;
(3) Collect all receipts from casino gaming, require that Newport Grand collect casino gaming gross receipts in trust for the State of Rhode Island through the Lottery Division, deposit such receipts into an account or accounts of its choice, allocate such receipts according to law, and otherwise maintain custody and control over all casino gaming receipts and funds;
(4) Hold and exercise sufficient powers over Newport Grand’s accounting and finances to allow for adequate oversight and verification of the financial aspects of casino gaming at the facility;
(5) Monitor all casino gaming operations and have the power to terminate or suspend any casino gaming activities in the event of an integrity concern or other threat to the public trust;
(6) Define and limit the rules of play and odds of authorized casino gaming games, including, without limitation, the minimum and maximum wagers for each casino gaming game;
(7) Have approval rights over matters relating to the employment of individuals to be involved, directly or indirectly, with the operation of casino gaming at Newport Grand;
(8) Establish compulsive gambling treatment programs;
(9) Promulgate, or propose for promulgation, any legislative, interpretive and procedural rules necessary for the successful implementation, administration and enforcement of Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws; and
(10) Hold all other powers necessary and proper to fully effectively execute and administer the provisions of Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws for its purpose of allowing the State of Rhode Island to operate a casino gaming facility through a licensed video lottery retailer hosting said casino gaming on behalf of the State of Rhode Island.

In order to further protect State gaming revenues and maintain the competitiveness of Newport Grand and the State’s other gaming facility, Twin River, in 2012 the General Assembly adopted legislation called the Revenue Protection Act to address, among other things, the share of net table game revenues to be received by the State if casino gaming is approved, the share of video lottery terminal revenue to be received by the City of Newport going forward, incentive gaming programs to protect market share and mitigate the potential impact of casino gaming in Massachusetts, and a regulatory framework to ensure oversight of casino gaming by the Lottery Division.

The Revenue Protection Act, as amended by Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014, establishes the State of Rhode Island’s share of net table game revenues from Newport Grand to be 18 per cent of such revenues, which is consistent with the State’s percentage share of net table game revenues received from Twin River. The State received for fiscal year 2013 approximately 61.67% of net terminal income from video lottery terminals at Newport Grand. The State’s percentage share of revenues from table games at Newport Grand is significantly less than the State’s percentage share of revenues from video lottery terminals because the operational expenses relating to table games to be paid by Newport Grand, LLC are substantially higher than the operational expenses relating to video lottery terminals.

The Revenue Protection Act, as amended by Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014, does not change the share of net terminal income received by Newport Grand, LLC from video lottery terminals at Newport Grand but it does provide for a change in the share of net terminal income to the City of Newport. The Revenue Protection Act, as amended, provides that, effective as of July 1, 2015, provided that this referendum question is approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport, and provided that Question 2 is approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, the City of Newport’s allocation of net terminal income from authorized video lottery terminals at the Newport Grand shall increase from one and one hundredth percent (1.01%) to one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of such net terminal income. Furthermore, if, in addition to this referendum question being approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport and Question 2 being approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, (i) Newport Grand, LLC or its successor has made an investment of no less than forty million dollars ($40,000,000) exclusive of acquisition costs within three (3) years, (ii) a certificate of completion and final approval from the city building inspector has been issued for the facility upgraded through this investment, (iii) the number of video lottery terminals in operation is no fewer than those in operation as of January 1, 2014 and (iv) table gaming has commenced in Newport, then the City of Newport’s allocation of net terminal income of authorized video lottery terminals at Newport Grand shall be the greater of one million dollars ($1,000,000) or one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of such net terminal income, except that for six (6) consecutive full fiscal years immediately thereafter, the allocation shall be the greater of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) or one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of net terminal income of authorized video lottery terminals at Newport Grand. Such minimum distribution shall be distributed in twelve (12) equal payments during the fiscal year.

To review the provisions of the Revenue Protection Act in their entirety and their effect as it relates to table games and video lottery terminals at Newport Grand should this referendum question be approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport and should Question 2 be approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, we refer you to the legislation enacted under Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014 and Chapters 289 and 290 of the Public Laws of 2012.

A vote to “Approve” this question means you wish to approve the act authorizing Newport Grand to add state- operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling it offers only and exclusively at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the provisions of such act.

A vote to “Reject” this question means you do not approve the act authorizing Newport Grand to add state- operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gaming it offers only and exclusively at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the provisions of such act.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.


Question 2 – Amendment to the Constitution of the State

Restriction on Gambling

(Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution)

Approval of the amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution set forth below will provide that no change in the location of gambling permitted in a municipality would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said municipality:

Full text of amendment for Question 2:

Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 22. Restriction on gambling.

No act expanding the types or locations of gambling which are permitted within the state or within any city or town therein or expanding municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized shall take effect until it has been approved by the majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in said referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed and, having been so approved in said referendum in any city or town on or after November 4, 2014, the location where the gambling is permitted in any city or town shall not be changed within said city or town without the approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed change in a referendum in said city or town.

The secretary of state shall certify the results of the statewide referendum and the local board of canvassers of the city or town where the gambling is to be allowed shall certify the results of the local referendum to the secretary of state.

Explanation for Question 2

Amendment to the Constitution of the State
(Restriction on Gambling)

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

In 1994 the Constitution of Rhode Island was amended to add Section 22 of Article VI to provide that no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within the State or within any city or town therein or expanding the municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized can take effect until it has been approved by a majority of statewide electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality where the proposed gambling would be allowed.

The General Assembly has proposed by joint resolution an amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution for approval by the State’s electors. If approved, the proposed amendment to the Constitution referenced below will have the effect of providing that no change in the location of gambling permitted in a municipality would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said municipality.

Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 22. Restriction on gambling.
No act expanding the types or locations of gambling which are permitted within the state or within any city or town therein or expanding municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized shall take effect until it has been approved by the majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a said referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed and, having been so approved in said referendum in any city or town on or after November 4, 2014, the location where the gambling is permitted in any city or town shall not be changed within said city or town without approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed change in a referendum in said city or town.

The secretary of state shall certify the results of the statewide referendum and the local board of canvassers of the city or town where the gambling is to be allowed shall certify the results of the local referendum to the secretary of state.

The words and phrases in the proposed amendment to the Constitution set forth above that have been crossed- out are words and phrases currently found in Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution that would be removed by the amendment. The words and phrases in the proposed amendment to the Constitution set forth above that have been underlined are words and phrases that are not currently found in Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution that would be added by the amendment.

The approval of the act authorizing 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 offered as provided for by Question 1 in the statewide referendum can only take place if, in addition to approval of such Question 1 by a majority of those electors voting statewide and those electors voting in the City of Newport, a majority of those electors voting statewide also approve this Question 2 in the statewide referendum being voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014.

A vote to “Approve” means that no change in location of gambling permitted in a city or town by approval of a referendum in such city or town on or after November 4, 2014 would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said city or town.

A vote to “Reject” means that a change in location of gambling permitted in a city or town would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said city or town.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.


Question 3 – Constitutional Convention

(Section 2 of Article XIV of the Constitution)

Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?

Explanation for Question 3

Constitutional Convention

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

The General Assembly has submitted the following question to the State’s electors:

Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?
A Constitutional Convention is an assembly of delegates or representatives of the people of the State for the purpose of amending or revising the Rhode Island Constitution. A Constitutional Convention, if held, could propose an entirely new Constitution for adoption or rejection by the State’s electors; it could propose individual amendments to the Constitution; or it could re-write the basic document while presenting what appears to be the most controversial issues to the electors in the form of supplemental amendments, thus allowing individual decisions on each.

No amendment or revision to the Constitution agreed upon by a Constitutional Convention shall take effect until the amendments or revisions have been submitted to the electors of the State and approved by a majority of those electors voting.

In accordance with Section 2 of Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution, a bi-partisan preparatory commission has been created by the General Assembly to assemble information on constitutional questions
for the electors of the State. The preparatory commission made use of such sources and gathered information pertinent to the fulfillment of its charge as it deemed appropriate. The preparatory commission, after gathering information on particular issues that the State’s electors may consider, reported its findings to the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and to the public, through the news media.

If a majority of the State’s electors vote to hold a Constitutional Convention, then it will be the responsibility of the 2015 General Assembly to enact legislation determining the method of election of delegates, setting forth an election schedule, and appropriating funds. The number of delegates shall be equal to the number of members of the House of Representatives and shall be apportioned in the same manner as the members of the House of Representatives. The parameters of a Constitutional Convention would be decided by the General Assembly and the elected delegates to the Convention. The last Constitutional Convention was held in 1986.

The actual cost to the taxpayers of conducting a Convention in 2016 is unknown. However, the bi-partisan preparatory commission for the proposed Constitutional Convention that met in July and August 2014, reported that the projected cost to the taxpayers of holding a Constitutional Convention in 2016 would be approximately Two and One-half Million Dollars, ($2.5M), after adjusting 1986 costs for inflation and in anticipation of numerous factors that could increase the cost of a convention to include the total number and location of convention meetings, the expense of hired experts, as well as the cost of a staff necessary to assist delegates in carrying out their duties.

A copy of the complete report issued by the bi-partisan preparatory commission presenting its findings, including information on issues that may be considered by the Constitutional Convention and the projected costs to taxpayers of holding a Constitutional Convention in 2016, may be viewed on the website of the Rhode Island General Assembly (www.rilin.state.ri.us) or a copy of the report may be obtained from the Rhode Island Library, State House Room 208, Providence, RI 02903.

This question has been proposed by the General Assembly of the State pursuant to Section 2 of Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution, which gives the General Assembly the right to submit to the electors at any election the question, “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?” If the General Assembly fails to submit the question to the electors of the State during any ten year period, then the Secretary of State shall submit it at the next general election following such period.

A vote to “Approve” means you would like to see a Constitutional Convention called to amend or revise the Constitution.

A vote to “Reject” means that you are opposed to a Constitutional Convention called to amend or revise the Constitution at this time.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.

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ProJo: Bids opened for Providence train station exterior work

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Photo taken in 2006

With a bid of approximately $6.9 million, J.H. Lynch & Sons submitted the lowest of five proposals for the construction work. Bids were opened Friday at the R.I. Division of Purchasing office on Capitol Hill.

State officials will take about two months to review the bids and certify the winning bid.

This project will address the deplorable conditions of the plaza areas around the station, repairs to the garage roof (which is the plaza), and improve pedestrian, bike, bus, and auto connections between the station and Kennedy Plaza.

We should likely expect work to begin in the spring 2015 construction season.

RIDOT recently was awarded a TIGER grant to design a new intermodal bus station at the train station. Voters will be asked to approve the purchase of bonds through Question 6 to further that project to reality.

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ecoRI News: Transit Advocates Rally Support for Question 6

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At a Monday morning press conference at the decaying Amtrak Station Public Plaza, civic, business and labor leaders joined voices supporting Question 6, a $35 million transit bond on the Nov. 4 ballot that they consider critical to Rhode Island’s economic health.

By connecting downtown with regional and national transportation lines and making systems more attractive and useable, proponents are banking on trends that show that efficient, effective and reliable public transportation is used by increasingly larger segments of the population. It also improves air quality, cuts carbon emissions and reduces congestion.

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News & Notes

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Eddy Street in Providence. Image from Google Street View.

CityLab: Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now

Unfortunately, trained to expect this sort of behavior, highway engineers apply the same logic to the design of city streets, where people behave in an entirely different way. On city streets, most drivers ignore posted speed limits, and instead drive the speed at which they feel safe. That speed is set by the cues provided by the environment. Are there other cars near me? Is an intersection approaching? Can I see around that corner? Are there trees and buildings near the road? Are there people walking or biking nearby? And: How wide is my lane?

When lanes are built too wide, pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.
All of these factors matter, and others, too. The simplest one to discuss, and probably the most impactful, is lane width. When lanes are built too wide, many bad things happen. In a sentence: pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.

As with most other State and County road departments across the country, RIDOT mostly insists that all roads should strive for 12′ lanes and the Providence DPW does not much disagree.


BuzzFeed News: The Hidden Reason Why Rent Is So Expensive In Cities: Parking Spaces

While many factors contribute to drive up the price of rents, parking is among the most significant, according to University of California Los Angeles professor and renowned parking guru Donald Shoup. BuzzFeed News sat down with Shoup during the CityLab 2014 conference in Los Angeles Monday to talk about how parking makes housing more expensive. His point: “It’s unfair to have cities where parking is free for cars and housing is expensive for people.”


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News & Notes

One proposal to combat sea-level rise in Boston, convert Clarendon Street into a canal.

BostInno: 6 Visuals for How Boston Can Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Though Boston has historically grown outwards into the ocean, with landfill expanding its boundaries over the decades, the threat of it being submerged back into the Atlantic is very real. Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has introduced numerous legislation in an attempt to curtail rising sea levels, as has the City of Boston, there needs to be a shift in thinking from how we can combat the effects of climate change to how we can adapt to them.

A new report published by the Urban Land Institute’s Boston/NewEngland branch makes a number of municipal design suggestions and reaffirms on several occasions that the time to act is now.

The study, called The Implications of Living With Water, examines four specified areas dangerously at-risk should Mother Nature decide to unleash her wrath in the form of a hurricane not unlike Sandy, which devastated the Eastern seaboard from New York City down to Florida.


BostInno: It’s Official: Allston Is Going to Get a New MBTA Station

Tuesday afternoon Governor Deval Patrick announced that previously derailed plans for West Station are back on. When West Station is complete, commuters will be able to make direct trips back and forth between Allston and Back Bay or South Station – without having to suffer the misery of the Green Line.

Harvard University will help pay for the new railroad station in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The MBTA has long range plans to do short run subway-like service on some of it’s commuter rail lines within areas in and close to Boston using smaller DMU trains.

If/when the MBTA moves ahead with plans for purchasing DMU’s, Rhode Island should be ready to get on board with them (sorry). DMU’s would be perfect for running higher frequency intra-state service in Rhode Island.


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Capital Center Commission Meeting – September 10, 2014

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 • 12:00 noon
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

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Image from Bing Maps

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Approval of Meeting Minutes of May 14, 2014 and June 11, 2014
  3. Ratification of Approvals
    Ratification of approvals from the June 11, 2014 CCC meeting
  4. Parcels 3E, 3W, 4E and 4W: Parking Lots
    Request for extension of interim parking lot approvals
    Presenter: Todd Turcotte, Capital Properties
  5. Report of the Chairman
    – Waterplace Park
    – Transit Infrastructure Bond Referendum
  6. Adjournment

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News & Notes

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Kansas City. (cc) Zach Werner

The New York Times: Millennials Going to Kansas City, to Live and Work

On one of the hottest days of the year in mid-July, Michael Knight, a real estate developer, made note of the torn-up street outside Commerce Tower, which opened in 1965 as this region’s first modern high-rise office structure with a glass curtain wall.

Workers were preparing the road for Kansas City’s $100 million streetcar starter line, which will begin running in 2015. It will include a stop right outside the 30-story office building, and the streetcar is one reason among many that the Commerce Tower Group, of which Mr. Knight is a partner, acquired the property just 70 days after he walked through it for the first time a year ago.

In October, the company plans to begin converting the 500,000-square-foot tower into a $90 million vertical city of residential and office space, and retailing and restaurants. The renovation will also include a Park University satellite location, which already operates in the building, and an early childhood school, among other amenities like a fitness center and a rooftop gathering spot.

I think it is cool that Knight Rider went into real estate.

The number of people living in the central business district has increased about 50 percent, to 20,000, since 2000, according to the Downtown Council of Kansas City. Apartment developers added more than 6,130 units from 2002 through 2012, and occupancy is above 95 percent, according to the Kansas City office of Cassidy Turley, a real estate brokerage firm.

Officials would like to see the current number of downtown residents double.

Officials in Providence seem to have no goals whatsoever about increasing the population in Providence, even with similar demand for downtown living as what is seen in Kansas City.


Governing: Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?

So many cities and regions continue to struggle economically. Even within nominally well-performing places there are pockets that have been left behind. Most of the have-nots in the current economy have been struggling for an extended period of time, often in spite of enormous efforts to bring positive change.

Why is this? Perhaps we need to consider the possibility that these places are getting exactly the results they want: Maybe they actually don’t want economic development.

Jane Jacobs took it even further. As she noted in The Economy of Cities, “Economic development, whenever and wherever it occurs, is profoundly subversive of the status quo.” And it isn’t hard to figure out that even in cities and states with serious problems, many people inside the system are benefiting from the status quo.

This is a something that I’ve been hearing more of around Providence lately; some feel that people in Rhode Island don’t actually want anyone to be successful, especially if those people are from away. I think of the General Assembly reading the Jacobs quote.


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City of Providence Seeks Public Comment on Sustainabilty Plan

providence-green

Over the past year, the City of Providence has been working on its Sustainability Plan. The City has released a draft of that plan and is seeking comment from the public. From the City:


From Mayor Taveras: Draft Sustainable Providence Plan Released for Public Comment

I am pleased to release for public comment a draft of the city’s first-ever sustainability action plan, Sustainable Providence.

In 2013, I released sustainability goals to move Providence forward in six key areas: waste, food, transportation, water, energy, and land use & development. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have worked with my staff to develop and provide feedback on this draft plan to achieve our goals.

Implementing this plan will help build a resilient and sustainable future for Providence as we protect our environment, rebuild our economy and strengthen our community. Thank you for working together with us to create a cleaner, greener city.

Please submit your comments by Friday, August 22, 2014 to Sheila Dormody, Director of Sustainability, sdormody@providenceri.com

Full disclosure: I participated on the Transportation Subcommittee
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ProJo: R.I. convention authority to fund parking garage construction behind Garrahy courthouse

garrahy-garage-bing

The R.I. Convention Center Authority said Tuesday it will put up the $43 million needed to build a parking garage adjacent to the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street in downtown Providence.

“The transformation of the current surface parking lot represents a unique opportunity to addres current parking capacity deficiencies and provide a mechanism to promote economic development,” said James Bennett, the convention center authority’s chairman.

Bennett also serves as economic development chief for the City of Providence.


No word on a possible RIPTA hub in the article.

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News & Notes

Snowy evening in Helsinki

Snowy evening in Helsinki, image (cc) Niklas Sjöblom

The Guardian: Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.


Old Urbanist: Going Driverless, or Not

A heated debate over the significance of Google’s so-called driverless car has been raging over the past several weeks. On one side of the aisle are those hailing it as a “revolutionary” technology that will dramatically alter personal mobility to the point of eliminating private car ownership. On the other side are those who reject the premise that the technology represents a groundbreaking shift, instead characterizing it as merely a “slightly different variation” on current transportation modes that is “so incremental that it epitomizes our national short-sightedness, and failure of imagination, when it comes to improving mobility in America.”

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RIPTA to relocate buses out of Kennedy Plaza to accommodate construction starting July 12, 2014

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From RIPTA:


RIPTA to Temporarily Relocate Bus Stops Out of Kennedy Plaza to Accommodate City of Providence Construction

All Routes Detoured Out of Kennedy Plaza Beginning Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will temporarily relocate all bus stops out of Kennedy Plaza beginning Saturday, July 12, 2014 to accommodate City of Providence renovations of the Plaza. These renovations will create a large civic space, reorganize bus berth locations and improve pedestrian connections to and from the plaza. The work is expected to be complete Fall 2014. All routes will be slightly detoured to avoid entering Kennedy Plaza. Bus stops will be relocated to Exchange Terrace, Sabin Street, Exchange Street, Fountain Street and Steeple Street. Park N’ Ride service will be relocated from Exchange Terrace to Sabin St. but will continue to pick up passengers at other downtown locations. Peter Pan and Greyhound passengers will continue to load and unload at their current stop in front of the Kennedy Plaza Terminal.

Ticketing and other passenger amenities will remain open inside the Kennedy Plaza Terminal during the construction period. RIPTA’s Kennedy Plaza sales and information outlet will remain open during construction. Customers are advised to enter through the side door on the Fulton Street side, near City Hall.

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News & Notes

miami-station

Proposed Florida Station in Miami.

Gizmodo: 5 Rail Stations From America’s New Golden Age of Train Travel

With a high-speed rail network slowly making its way towards reality, cities are commissioning grand stations for the 21st century to accommodate this new mode of transit. Here are five stations on the horizon that are bringing the drama and glamour back to train travel, while positioning it for a high-tech, high-speed future.


City Journal: Aaron Renn: The Bluest State

“Rhode Island is in the midst of an especially grim economic meltdown,” a 2009 New York Times story began, “and no one can pinpoint exactly why.” Five years later, the state continues to suffer from most of the same problems the Times story described: high unemployment, a crippling tax structure, dangerously underfunded state pension systems. But contrary to the Times’s claims, Rhode Island’s predicament is easy to explain. With no special economic advantages, the state has maintained an entitlement mentality inherited from an age of colonial and industrial grandeur. Rhode Island was once one of America’s most prosperous states, and its rate of higher-education attainment remains better than the national average. But the state’s key industries collapsed long ago, and its political leadership has refused to make adjustments to its high-cost, high-regulation governance system.

The result: a state with “the costs of Minnesota and the quality of Mississippi,” as Rob Atkinson, former executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, told WPRI-TV. Indeed, Rhode Island is arguably America’s basket case, overlooked only because it is small enough to escape most national scrutiny. Its ruination is a striking corrective to the argument that states can tax, spend, and regulate their way to prosperity.


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Grow Smart RI Power of Place Summit – May 23, 2014

convention-center

Grow Smart RI’s biennial Power of Place Summit takes place this Friday, May 23rd at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Online registration closes at noon tomorrow then the price goes up for telephone or walk-up registrations, so register today!

Details from Grow Smart RI:


Join 500 state, local and federal officials, business and civic leaders, real estate professionals, investors, architects, developers, builders, farmers, and community stakeholders from across Rhode Island and New England for Grow Smart’s 5th biennial Power of Place Summit.

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