From the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy:
$395,000 Champlin Foundations Grant Awarded to Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Kennedy Plaza Project
Funds will build a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park
The Champlin Foundations recently granted $395,000 to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC) and The Providence Foundation to create a pedestrian gateway within Burnside Park. This significant investment will fund a detailed design and reconstruction of the park’s northeast corner, which is a critical element of capital improvement in Greater Kennedy Plaza. An attractive new entrance by the Burnside statue and a corresponding footpath will encourage more varied, healthy activities in our downtown public spaces. By ensuring that the passageway remains safe, clean and well-lit, this project will allow travelers to easily walk through the park on their way from the train station to the RIPTA bus hub, strengthening this connection. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion expected in late summer 2014.
First proposed during a community charrette led by international placemaking experts at the Project for Public Spaces in 2008, this gateway improvement project is one of several transformative changes planned within Greater Kennedy Plaza next year. The city of Providence has committed $1.7 million from its downtown circulator project to reconfigure traffic patterns around the parks. With support from RIPTA, plans call for the relocation of bus berths to the outside of Kennedy Plaza to make way for a pedestrian plaza and market.
“I thank The Champlin Foundations for this generous funding to advance our efforts to revitalize Greater Kennedy Plaza and make downtown Providence a more vibrant, cultural and commercial gateway to our capital city,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Working together with our partners, we are improving our downtown public spaces and providing more opportunities for visitors, businesses and residents to enjoy them.”
Cliff Wood, executive director of the DPPC, added, “We are so thankful to The Champlin Foundations for this important award. It moves our theory of the gateway into reality. Every major city needs a place where people can congregate, and a strong public-private partnership is required to manage that space. With energized support from our government officials and robust capital partner investments that prioritize the transformation of Greater Kennedy Plaza, we can ensure this project’s success. We have been fortunate to have both.”
With a small staff and limited budget, the DPPC has benefited from major grants for programming and infrastructure in recent years. Following the principle of ‘the power of 10’ espoused by the Project for Public Spaces to activate the public realm, the DPPC has sponsored weekly summer events in Burnside Park, ranging from mid-morning storytime to after work concerts. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts gave $200,000 to a coalition that included the DPPC for programming and public space improvements. These funds helped to organize a large-scale multi-stage event, the FirstWorks Festival on the Plaza, which engaged the public with live performances by 200 artists in September 2012. This summer, Southwest Airlines funded the construction of an Imagination Center, equipped with children’s books and play areas, to make the area more welcoming to families.
To date, the grant from The Champlin Foundations is the largest single contribution to the DPPC. Since 1932, The Champlin Foundations have distributed nearly $480 million to tax exempt organizations for capital needs. They aim to support Rhode Island based organizations that have the greatest impact on a broad segment of the population.[box style=”alert”]First paragraph of release updated to reflect that the Champlin Grant only applies to work within Burnside Park. RIPTA is planning a separate project to make improvements along Exchange Street between Exchange Terrace and the train station.[/alert] [alert type=”warning”]Full disclosure: I am a member of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy board.[/alert]