City Council Committee Leaders Elected Council Committees on Public Works, Ordinances, Claims & Pending Suits, State Legislative Affairs and City Property convened tonight to elect committee chairmen
Members of the Providence City Council held five committee meetings tonight to elect the chairmen of the Committees on Public Works, Ordinances, Claims & Pending Suits, State Legislative Affairs and City Property.
Councilman Oscar Vargas (Ward 15) was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Committee on Public Works, which oversees abandonments and easements filed with the city as well as general operations of the city such as snow removal and street sweeping.
“I look forward to working with my council colleagues to ensure that essential city functions are delivered at the highest quality to all neighborhoods across the city. From snow removal to street cleaning and street sweeping, city residents are relying on us to get the job done quickly and efficiently, and that is exactly what I plan to do as the Chairman of the Committee on Public Works,” stated Councilman Vargas.
Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Committee on Ordinances, which handles zoning changes, and the general laws of the city.
“I would like to thank my Council colleagues for electing me to serve as the Chairman of the Committee on Ordinances. I am committed to serving with integrity and attention to detail as we oversee the legislative process for the City Council,” stated Councilman Espinal.
Claims and Pending Suits, City Property, and State Legislative Affairs
Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) was elected to serve as the Chairman of three committees. The Committee on Claims & Pending Suits handles all claims filed against the city such as potholes or trip and fall law suits. The Committee on City Property oversees the sale, leasing and transfer of any City owned property. The Committee on State Legislative Affairs supervises Council support and/or opposition to legislative initiatives at the state level.
“I am honored to have been selected by my Council colleagues to serve as the Chairman of these three committees. The committees of the City Council oversee a broad and diverse pool of issues from local quality of life concerns to statewide initiatives with far reaching effects. I am ready to hit the ground running and tackle a robust agenda in this legislative session,” said Goncalves.
“Tonight, the council decided to continue the discussion on the ProvPort resolution authorizing a lease extension and bond but will table the ordinance establishing a tax exemption until the next council term, said Councilman Espinal. “The voices and concerns of my neighbors were heard and should be included in this important process as we move forward toward a solution.”
The legislation in front of the council is a proposed 30-year tax exemption agreement and lease extension for ProvPort, Inc., an operator of the Port of Providence on the city’s south side. The ordinance establishing a tax exemption agreement for ProvPort can be found here. The resolution authorizing a lease extension and bond for ProvPort can be found here.
“Today’s decision from the RI Energy Facility Sitting Board is a victory for the people of Ward 10, and the community of South Providence. The proposed expansion clearly poses a substantial risk both to the environment, and public safety in general. I am grateful for the Board’s diligence and careful consideration in this most important matter and look forward to the review process, and public input. I remain dedicated to bringing commerce, in the form of clean, renewable energy to ProvPort, but I will not compromise the well-being of my community.”
• Council President John Igliozzi issues unprecedented address and calls for an independent audit to oversee the disbursement of $124 million in federal relief funds
• Council calls on RI DOT to reduce the speed limit on Allens Ave to 25 mph
• Council calls on Providence Housing to stimulate more affordable housing
• A final ordinance passed prohibiting the storage of liquid propane gas (LPG) in the city
• Councilors call on the administration to hire a consultant to understand the true status of all city-owned real estate for the possibility of developing affordable housing or other public services
Providence, RI – At tonight’s Providence City Council meeting, President John Igliozzi (Ward 7) set a serious and circumspect agenda for 2022, which includes holding the line on taxes, supporting police and public safety, as well as the importance of the once in a decade legislative process involving the Charter Review Commission and Ward Boundaries Committee. COVID-19 has decimated Providence’s restaurants, hotels, and small locally owned businesses. Many folks have lost jobs and cannot find housing. The city has an enormous responsibility of dispersing $124 million in American Rescue Plant Act recovery funds. “That is why, as part of the ARPA budget, I will be recommending the Council retain the services of an independent auditor to track, monitor, and prepare bi-weekly reports on ARPA expenditures. This will allow the Council and the public to monitor the progress of every ARPA dollar,” said Igliozzi.
Liquid Propane Gas
The City Council passed President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal’s (Ward 10) ordinance prohibiting the storage of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) in Providence. This legislation comes after Pro Tempore Espinal and community activists continued to advocate to stop outside corporations from increasing the storage of highly combustible LPG in the Port of Providence. While Liquid Natural Gas has long been prohibited in Providence due to its high risk of combusting, Espinal has led the effort to broaden this prohibition to Liquid Propane Gas. “Tonight’s ordinance is a big win for protecting the environment and neighborhoods in the Port of Providence. The families of South Providence have too often gotten the short end of the stick as an environmentally harmful industry is allowed to freely expand in their back yards. This ordinance puts Providence residents first and takes a stand against environmentally harmful business practices. I am grateful to my council colleagues and the many tireless community advocates who have joined me in the continued fight for public health, and environmental protection in our city,” said Espinal.
Councilwoman and Finance Committee Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced and passed a resolution, that calls on the Providence Housing Authority to act with urgency and maximize its allocation of Project-Based Vouchers (PBV) to promote the development of affordable housing in the capital city. The 2001 federal housing law allows public housing agencies like the PHA to convert up to 20% of their Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) portfolios to Project-Based Vouchers. What’s the difference? HCVs travel with the family, commonly in one-off privately owned units. PBVs stay rooted in Providence and when coupled with other housing assistance resources, provide critical gap financing to otherwise unsustainable affordable housing developments. “The PHA is underutilizing this critical tool which creates affordable housing for disabled, elderly, and low-income households. Only 100 Project-Based Vouchers exist under the PHA. That’s about 4% of its portfolio and far too low. The PHA has a long way to go to stimulate construction and service the needs of residents looking for a place to call home,” said Ryan.
Tonight, Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14) and the City Council passed resolution 35044, calling for the detailed analysis of all city-owned real estate, to identify possible areas to develop affordable housing. In September of 2020, the Council requested a list of all real estate owned by the city and the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA). Initial estimates show more than 150 city-owned vacant lots. “Right now, our city is seeing an unprecedented need for affordable housing. Through this resolution, and the assessments of our real estate, we can begin to utilize untapped resources to bring housing to the people of Providence,” said Councilman Salvatore. “I am excited to begin exploring potential avenues for dynamic and much-needed development of these otherwise unutilized parcels and buildings.” The Council is now calling for immediate site assessments of all real estate owned by the PRA and the city.
Councilwoman Nirva R. LaFortune (Ward 3), Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Majority Leader James Taylor (Ward 8), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Majority Whip Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), penned a letter to Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee regarding the state’s response to the recent uptick in cases of COVID-19.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) was joined by his City Council colleagues to pass a resolution preventing the storage of liquid propane gas (LPG) in the City of Providence.
The resolution, as passed by the council, calls on the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) to deny Sea 3 LLC’s petition to import 450,000 gallons of liquid propane by rail into a storage site located in the Port of Providence.
The EFSB has jurisdiction over this matter because the property is qualified as a major energy facility. In order to approve the petition, the EFSB must determine that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, public health, safety and welfare of the community. Councilman Espinal has been among many voices concerned that this expansion would put the surrounding area at risk of fires, accidents, and poor public health outcomes while also working against city and statewide climate goals.
“Since March of this year, I have been advocating for the rejection of Sea 3 LLC’s petition to ship hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid propane into our neighborhood. I am grateful to my council colleagues and members of the community who have joined me in speaking up for South Providence and for the environmental future of our city,” stated Council President Pro Tempore Espinal.
In addition to the passage of this resolution, the City Council made the first passage of an ordinance prohibiting the storage of LPG’s within the City of Providence. The Council will vote on final passage of this ordinance in January 2022.
“Residents of South Providence have historically been ignored and underrepresented in the decision-making process surrounding the most intensive industrial land uses in the State. We as a community have come together as one voice to clearly state that we do not support any expansion or development in the Port of Providence that may lead to increased safety risks for the local residents. I look forward to moving forward with legislation and public advocacy that will uplift our community and conserve our environment,” added Pro Tempore Espinal.