Today, Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan Councilwoman Ward 5, along with Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, City Council President Sabina Matos, President Pro Tempore Michael Correia, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Representative Daniel McKiernan, Representative Raymond Hull, former City Council President Michael Solomon, Tony Simon of the Friends of Mt. Pleasant Park, Superintendent of the Providence Public Schools Harrison Peters, retired New England Patriots Andre Tippett and Pete Brock, and former Providence Steam Roller Emo DiNito, the Providence Parks Department, and the Conley Family joined to rededicate Conley Stadium in the loving memory of World War II veteran and war hero, Joseph V. “Bucky” Conley.
Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, Councilwoman for Ward 5, stated, “After years of working with stakeholders, we can now celebrate all that hard work and dedication that went into making this project possible. Conley Stadium is poised to become the most prestigious multi-use athletic complex in the state. It’s an honor to be able to stand with Joseph “Bucky” Conley’s family to rededicate this fantastic space in his honor. I can think of no better way to honor the legacy of a man that was so dedicated to community and athletics in our City. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to reimagine this wonderful stadium and that worked to make it the crown jewel of Ward 5.”
Mr. Conley sustained a life-crippling wound in the invasion of Iwo Jima, and upon his return from WW II, he worked for the City of Providence. In 1962 he became the U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island and was known as the unofficial “Mayor of South Providence,” where his family lived for over 50-years.
“Our parks are some of our most precious assets and have served as community centers and shared spaces,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “This project represents one of several greenspaces across the city that has seen dramatic improvements, in some cases for the first time in nearly 40 years. Through our recently passed Capital Improvement Plan, this project, and others like it, are supporting connectivity between neighbors, improving the local quality of life, and remembering a great leader, Joseph Conley, who has forever shaped our community.”
His family has a long history of dedication to sport and the City of Providence. He was married to the late Serena (McLaughlin) and was the loving father of Serena, Joseph, Kathleen, and James. His family has a long history of being active in the community and community sports. His son, Joseph, was a Pioneer Women’s basketball coach, and he is a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame. His cousin, Dr. Pat Conley, was a several time New England Master’s Champion in the Javelin event.
“Our father would be so proud to have his name attached to this iconic stadium, which has been transformed for the students of Providence,” stated Serena Conley. “For generations to come, the student-athletes of Providence Public High Schools and the thousands of student-athletes that will compete here will have an amazing facility to hone their athletic skills and learn the value of hard work and discipline that comes from sports. We look forward to cheering on our home town teams in the years to come. We wish to thank the City, Mayor Elorza, and Majority Leader Ryan for working so hard to ensure the long legacy of Conley Stadium.”
Conley Stadium was first dedicated in Conley’s honor on May 9, 1966. The original resolution naming the stadium after Conley was passed unanimously by the Providence School Committee and was done so because of Conley’s courage as a United States Marine in the Pacific corridor during WW II, and for his compassion for his fellow citizens and love for children, and his love for athletic competition.
Superintendent Harrison Peters said, “Our students and our community deserve recreational spaces that truly meet their needs. Conley Stadium is a tremendous asset, and I am so grateful to the community leaders who have realized this dream for Providence.”
Conley Stadium has been transformed over the past several years into a multi-use state-of-the-art athletic facility with football, soccer, baseball, and track and field facilities all in one location. The master plan for these upgrades and improvements were done through a collaborative effort led by Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan which included community stakeholders, the Parks Department, and the Providence Public Schools Athletics Department. With these upgrades, Conley Stadium will be able to hold several events happening simultaneously. It is unprecedented in the City of Providence, and the new scoreboard will only enhance the experience for athletes and spectators alike.
Providence will now be able to host invitational track and field contests as well as other sporting competitions in the upgraded facility. Conley Stadium is second to none and is in line with other major athletic centers around the country. It has the best throwing stadium in the state and has a state-of-the-art javelin throw, and the reconfiguration will allow for athletes that compete in multiple events, without having to go very far.
“From design to construction, the Parks Department worked with the school department and the community to bring this bold vision to life for the neighborhood and regional athletics and in honor of the Conley family,” said Providence Parks Superintendent Wendy Nilsson. “We are excited to finally unveil this project after years of hard work, and encourage residents to use the facility while following all the latest health and safety guidelines.”
Facilities enhancements include a state-of-the art artificial turf football field, regulation soccer and baseball fields, track and field components, the extension of the Evelyn Fargnoli Walking Path, improvements to the Mt. Pleasant Little League Fields, and to Mt. Pleasant Park.
Conley Stadium has a long history as a central location for sporting in the City of Providence. It was the final home of the Providence Steam Rollers, who won the National Football League (NFL) Championship in 1928. The franchise initially started at the Cycledome Stadium, where they played from 1925-1931. In 1933 the franchise was given back to the NFL at the onset of the Great Depression.
Nearly thirty years after the Steam Rollers rolled to an NFL championship, Providence fielded another football team that made Conley Stadium home in 1962. They played there until 1964 as part of the Atlantic Coast Football League. In 1964, Jackie Robinson bought the franchise and renamed the team the Rhode Island Indians, where they played at Conley Stadium for one year until the team was disbanded.
This project came to fruition because of the hard work and dedication of Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, City Council Majority Leader and Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, Providence Public Schools, Providence Public Schools Director of Operations and Chief Athletics Director Jason Menard, Mt. Pleasant High School Athletics Director Paul Rao, Mt. Pleasant High School Principal Chris Coleman, the athletics department at Mt. Pleasant High School, Classical High School Athletics Director Robert Palazzo, Providence’s Superintendent of Parks Wendy Nilsson, Deputy Superintendent of Parks Brian Byrnes who created the Master Plan, the Friends of Mount Pleasant Park, Aramark Resident District Manager Rupert Burtan, Aramark Grounds Manager Joe Conti, Sodexo District Manager Mark Jeffery, and the countless dedicated community members of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood who worked to reimagine Conley Stadium into one of the regions preeminent multi-use athletic facilities.
On Friday and then again last night, there have been two shootings in our neighborhoods. This is not only disturbing, but it must end.
Last year, the Center for Disease Control issued a report stating that “gun violence still exists at epidemic levels” across the United States. Although crime rates are down in the City of Providence, that doesn’t bring relief to the residents that are having to live with this in their neighborhoods. In 2018, there was a gun death every 13 minutes, every day, in the United States.
This must end, and we need to ask our state and federal representatives to advocate for sensible gun laws that would remove guns from those that would use them to do harm, rather than for sport or self-protection. As a City Councilor, I have voted in favor of resolutions that were supportive of stronger and sensible gun legislation in the General Assembly.
When these incidents happen in our neighborhoods, witnesses and other concerned neighbors are often not updated on outcomes, and it perpetuates a feeling of considerable uncertainty and fear for those who live in the affected areas.
When we return from August recess, I plan to introduce a resolution calling on the City’s Public Safety Department to institute a City-wide gun-buy-back program in the hopes of getting some of these weapons off of our streets.
I have been in contact with our police department leadership, and the incident on Friday on Sharon Street and last night’s incident on Herschel Street are both active investigations. As I learn more, I will share with the community as soon as allowed.
Quality of life for our City’s residents is paramount, and something that I fight for every day as a City Councilor.
If you have any information regarding these incidents, please call the Providence Police Department’s non-emergency number at 401-272-1111 or filing a report online at https://bit.ly/PVDPoliceReport .
Last night, I was at Fortnight just after 9PM when three police officers showed up claiming they had received a “noise complaint”. This seemed extremely unlikely to me — Fortnight was playing music just loud enough for the patrons of the bar sitting outside to hear, much less loud than the normal noise level outside on that block of downtown at night. Fortnight is a local bar that has vocally defended the Black Lives Matter movement and supported the movement in Providence to defund the police, and they have attested to being a frequent target of harassment by the police. Indeed, people from Fortnight and patrons told me that for the last few weeks Providence Police cars have been repeatedly driving past the bar w and turning on their sirens while passing with the purpose to harass, intimidate, and annoy patrons and workers and incidentally create a lot more noise than the music in question last night. I was also told that a Providence Police Officer yelled expletives out the window of their patrol car at a patron while driving by on July 17th at 8pm. The patron filled a police report and has received no response.
Upon arrival, three officers approached someone working at the bar. The first officer to speak to the worker was extremely belligerent and was yelling right in the workers face and refusing to stand farther away despite Covid-19 issues and repeated requests to do so. At this point someone working at the bar asked me to intervene. I noted that I was a Councilor, and was concerned about the presence of so many officers for such a minor complaint. After this a different officer spoke to the worker much more reasonably, said they had no intention of citing the bar and just wanted the music turned down. The bar staff then cooperated fully and turned the music off completely. However, minutes later 3 more police cars and four more officers arrived at the scene to respond, circling the bar in an act of intimidation — and proving that this had nothing to do with a noise complaint, as the bar had zero music on at all.
I am extremely frustrated by the Police Department’s response last night. It is clear to me that what I observed was an attempt to harass a small business for bravely supporting youth organizers and working alongside community leaders to defund the police. At a time when our small businesses are suffering, this seems particularly egregious. Further, I am disturbed that the Police officers on the scene were able to turn over body camera footage of our encounter last night, but the Providence Police Department has not yet released footage of the misconduct on the part of Sergeant Hanley.
I am committed to standing up on behalf of all small businesses in our community, particularly those who feel they are being targeted for constitutionally protected political speech.
“I am saddened to hear that two young people have been charged in connection with the July 1 murder of Jorge L. Gonzalez Colon in the Silver Lake neighborhood. This tragedy serves as a poignant reminder of the important conversations taking place in the City of Providence and across the nation about education and law enforcement. I commend the Providence Police Department for their diligent work on this case.
Let’s continue working towards creating a City in which youth are afforded the high quality education and after school programming that empower them through cyclical poverty and violence, and in which our Law Enforcement Officers continue to serve and protect their communities in a dependable and constructive manner.”
This weekend my family and I were the targets of acts of intimidation and violence demanding that I defund and abolish the Providence Police Department.
This individual(s) graffitied my property and also spiked the tires of both my son’s and my car. While the graffiti can be washed away, the spikes embedded in our tires could’ve caused serious bodily harm, or even worse.
This was not a political statement adherent to the spirit of our first amendment. This was an act of intimidation and censure by threat.
As an elected official who has served this city for many years, ideological differences and spirited debates regarding our future are not new.
Yet, engaging in this type of behavior that is meant to cause fear of bodily injury or of life is not something that I will ever condone.
Instead, I will continue to work with the community and my colleagues to find solutions to the problems and concerns that have been expressed through testimony and discussion at the Committee on Finance meetings.
Over the past few weeks, I have called on the members of the General Assembly to repeal the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (which would give more power to our Chief of Police to fire officers who would use their position to do harm instead of good). I have been working with my colleagues to create a social service crisis intervention unit within our City. This type of program would create a network of social service responders where individuals in crisis can get the help that they need without the use of an armed police response. This measure would also keep our police force in the neighborhoods so that they can do the job they were tasked to do – protect us. I have had national leaders in community policing attend our Committee on Finance meetings to share best practices. We have heard from CAHOOTS based in Eugene, Oregon, along with representatives from the STAR program based in Denver, Colorado. The Committee will continue to investigate these best practices so that we can launch a similar program here in Providence that meets the unique needs of our City.
I know the vandals that committed these acts are not representative of the community who has come before the City Council and asked for reform from the police department. I will continue to listen and learn from these and other members of our community, and work to help initiate positive reforms that will continue to make the Providence Police Department the best department in the nation.
John J. Igliozzi, Esq., Majority Whip
Chairman of the Committee on Finance
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 7
Damage to Councilman Igliozzi’s tires
Spikes used to cause damage to Councilman Igliozzi’s family property
Graffiti, spray painted on Councilman Igliozzi’s driveway and in front of his home