City Council Calls for a Solution to Student Transportation Problems, Bans Marijuana in Parks, Receives Proposal for a New Providence Place Mall Tax Treaty, and Honors Mayor-Elect

Oct 6, 2022 | 0 comments

October 6, 2022



Parker Gavigan, Director of Communications

Public Nuisance Policy

Tonight, the City Council passed into law an ordinance amending the city’s current legislation surrounding “loud or unruly gatherings.” Currently, any building where police have documented a disturbance, or “public nuisance” must display an orange sticker detailing the violation. The new ordinance makes both property owners and residents responsible if stickers are removed or defaced. Under current law, only the resident is subject to fines. To read the entire ordinance, click here.

Ban on Marijuana in Parks

Councilors passed an ordinance to amend the city’s current ban on tobacco use in city parks, playgrounds, and recreational centers to include marijuana after state law recently made recreational cannabis legal. Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7) sponsored the amendment.  A violation of the law would be punishable by a civil fine of $50.

Providence Place Mall Tax Treaty

Councilors received a proposed ordinance establishing a 20-year tax treaty for the Providence Place Mall to begin on July 1, 2028, including annual payments of $4.5 million. The proposal claims that the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth of e-commerce have “challenged the viability of malls.” The mall’s owners seek to reinvent Providence Place Mall into a “modern public gathering place that combines retail with office/workplace, dining, entertainment, health and wellness facilities, arts, education, residential, medical, community fulfillment services and together with other commercial uses in one location,” according to the ordinance.

“This tax treaty proposal is the beginning of the conversation on the future of Providence Place. The economy and online shopping have changed the mall’s business model from 25 years ago. As city leaders, we are responsible for listening and allowing the owners to present the facts,” said Council President John Igliozzi. “The city and its residents cannot afford to see the mall abandoned and shuttered, but any tax agreement needs to reflect equity across the board.”

The proposal was taken by the Council “off docket” Thursday because the ordinance was not presented to the Clerk’s office before the 10 am docket deadline on Friday, October 1. The proposed ordinance was referred to the finance committee. To read the entire proposal, click here.

Transportation for Providence Students

Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune sponsored a resolution calling on the Providence Public School District (PPSD), the city administration, and RIDE to quickly develop a plan to address public transportation issues for Providence students. PPSD partners with RIPTA to transport more than 4,500 students for rides to and from school. An unprecedented labor shortage for RIPTA has caused delays in service and left many students without rides. The resolution was referred to the finance committee.

“It is unacceptable to leave Providence students out on the street with no means of getting to class. These bus delays and reduced services are causing real hardships for students and working parents. We can do better. We need an immediate plan to fix our public transportation problems for our students and ensure they have access to before and after school opportunities,” said Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3).

Request to Remove National Background Checks for Student Volunteers

Councilman John Goncalves sponsored a resolution requesting the Providence Public School District (PPSD) and Providence School Board remove a national Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) requirement for volunteer university students, but maintain local background checks. PPSD had 162 unfilled teaching jobs at the beginning of the 2022 school year and 101 classrooms without a permanent, full-time certified teacher. Each year Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson & Wales University, and others provide hundreds of volunteers to help fill gaps at Providence public schools. While background checks help protect students’ safety, a new Community Partnership Policy would require expensive and time-consuming national background checks for non-Rhode Island volunteers. The resolution was referred to the finance committee.

“If this administrative policy requiring an additional national background check, in addition to the Rhode Island BCI check, is not removed for university students, the Providence Public School District could potentially lose hundreds of volunteers from our colleges and universities who provide support services to city schools. This comes at an inopportune time when our schools are already faced with teacher shortages and desperately need extra support,” said Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).

Mayor-Elect Smiley

City Council President Igliozzi invited Mayor-elect Brett Smiley to attend tonight’s meeting. Smiley addressed councilors in the chamber. He was presented with a commemorative plaque honoring the city’s soon-to-be 39th mayor.