Statement from Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. Regarding the Esek Hopkins Middle School
Last evening, the Providence City School Board voted to ask the City Council to rename the Esek Hopkins School.
Before that discussion takes place, I believe that my community in Ward 4 should have a conversation to get their feedback and their desire to rename or not to rename the school. I am working on gathering the facts regarding the history of Esek Hopkins, while some of it is ugly, there may be evidence that he saw the gross misfortune that he was involved with and charted a different path. In addition, I have asked our City Archives to provide me with research on the other founding families of Providence, including the Brown’s.
That said, any change to the name of the school should come from robust community engagement where the school is located. The name also cannot be changed by the State or the School Department. The buildings are owned by the City of Providence.
I look forward to facilitating that conversation in the near future.
City Councilman John J. Igliozzi Launches Online Petition to Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights
Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7) today announced the launch of an online petition asking the Governor and the General Assembly to repeal Rhode Island General Law 42-28.6 titled Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR). Individuals looking to sign the petition can do so here: https://bit.ly/PVDWARD7.
“Last week, after receiving over 2,000 emails from residents asking the City Council to defund the police, I held a Committee on Finance meeting where I invited community advocates, members of the City Council, the Commissioner and the Chief of Police, as well as the President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to appear for a discussion on the Police Department’s budget and the concerns that the community shared via email,” stated Chairman on the Committee on Finance John J. Igliozzi, Esq. “The conversation came out of the community’s deep pain over the atrocities that have occurred in recent weeks but have been ongoing for centuries. One of the things that I heard from this conversation was that Rhode Island is one of 12 states to have a Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, and our state law is one of the most restrictive. I believe that if we are going to have real change in our police and community relations, we need to start here. If there is a bad apple, we don’t want it to spoil the whole bunch, and LEOBR prevents us from making a real change when we have officers that are accused of violence.”
During the Committee on Finance meeting that was held on June 10, 2020, Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris asked, “If Mr. Floyd’s life would have been taken here, would our Chief had the opportunity to call for the police officer to be fired?” Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré stated, “Under our LEOBR the answer is no. We would not be able to fire, which to me, means to terminate from employment, benefits, and everything. And even after the act was committed, we would have to wait until that individual was indicted, and that means getting an indictment, a charge, out of a grand jury since it’s a capital offense and a homicide. We wouldn’t be able to stop his salary until we get an indictment from the grand jury, and then we stop his salary, and his benefits continue until he’s convicted of that crime, and then we stop his benefits…”
“It was clear from Commissioner Paré that one of the biggest hurdles they face is the state’s LEOBR law. If we can repeal that and hold bad actors accountable, we could potentially save a life. I think that’s a worthy pursuit and why I’m launching the petition, and I hope that we can work together as a City and State to make a better community for all of our residents.”
The petition will be forwarded to Governor Gina Raimondo, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, and Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, and the members of the Rhode Island General Assembly.
Yesterday, I had a protective box placed over the Columbus Statue in Columbus Square in the Elmwood Neighborhood. My reason for doing so was to protect the statue from the upcoming construction that is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks. Upgrades will include new lighting in the park as well as other infrastructure upgrades.
As you may have learned, the protective box was vandalized late last night, but the Columbus statue remains intact. This statue has been vandalized in the past, and I have been steadfast in my support that it should remain in the neighborhood until residents are able to decide on the future of the statue. The City has formed a Special Committee on Commemorative Works which will be overseen by Providence’s Arts, Culture + Tourism Department in conjunction with the City Archivist, and I will be urging them and the Providence Parks Commission to address the community’s concerns around the Columbus Statue. I will also ensure that residents of the Elmwood neighborhood can be heard, and express what they believe should happen in their neighborhood.
The statue was a gift by the Gorham Manufacturing Company to the residents of the Elmwood neighborhood. Where many of the factory workers once lived and stands as a reminder to the residents of our past bustling manufacturing history.
The statue will remain protected in Columbus Square until all construction is completed.
Statement from Councilman John Goncalves Regarding National Grid’s Plan to Remove Trees Along the South Main Street Corridor
The London Planetree tolerates pollution and other urban conditions exceptionally well, making it ideally suited for this area and providing a myriad of environmental benefits. Several studies show that urban forestry contributes to the health and wellbeing of our residents. They also provide an acoustic buffer and ample shade for those seeking to get out of the sun while out in the area and provide an aesthetic element to the new Providence Pedestrian Bridge. My neighbors have gathered over 300 petition signatures to keep these trees, and I believe that National Grid should listen to our concerns.
London Planetrees are easily transplantable depending on their age. Even older and larger trees can be moved – if done so with care and resources. My staff has reached out to trained arborists from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which has one of the country’s leading horticulture and arboriculture programs, and was told that the trees could be moved but with much care.
That said, I realize that it would be costly to move such large and mature trees but the proposal to simply plant at minimum 23 new trees to replace them, as required by ordinance, doesn’t go far enough. Ultimately, I hope that National Grid will work with the community, including the 10,000 Suns volunteers, neighborhood residents, the neighborhood association, as well as local business owners, and provide them with any additional data and documentation that they have requested regarding the ramifications of the removal of these trees. In addition, I ask that National Grid is in constant communication with us and can incorporate further feedback, regarding tree planting and tree species in our neighborhood, that is acceptable to community stakeholders given the potential loss of these three exceptional trees.
Tonight, the Providence Zoning Board of Review held a meeting to vote on a request for a zoning variance for the building located at 126 Adelaide Avenue. As the City Councilor for Ward Nine, where this property is located, I was not notified of the matter, nor was my community notified. This is unacceptable.
Because the petitioner failed to reach out to me as the City Councilor and the abutting neighbors, the matter was continued.
Due to the lack of respect shown to my community and myself, I am introducing an Ordinance that will require any petitioner seeking a zoning variance to notify the Councilor and the residents of the area where the property is located. Further, I am requesting that the Councilor and neighbors of any area where a zoning variance is petitioned, be notified of any public meetings or hearings on the matter in a timely manner. This will provide neighbors and abutters the chance to voice their support or opposition to the proposed project.
We are a city of unique and diverse neighborhoods, and each one deserves to be treated the same – regardless of the socio-economic or ethnic background. I want the residents of Ward Nine to rest assured that I am going to advocate for how our communities are developed and that development happens with our input.
I have launched and Online Petition requesting robust community engagement before there is to be another hearing on this matter.
Sign the petition here: Petition Regarding 126 Adelaide Avenue
Providence City Council
Councilwoman – Ward 9