During the summer months, I have been communicating with residents, City departments and Strive Realty regarding the redevelopment of the property located at 663 Admiral Street. Tonight’s scheduled community meeting at the property has been postponed due to rain, but will be rescheduled in the coming weeks.
This week, I learned that a demolition permit was erroneously issued to the property owners by the City’s Department of Inspections and Standards without receiving all proper documentation from the Rhode Island Department of Health. In order to acquire a demolition permit, developers must submit letters regarding all utilities, a surety bond, lead and asbestos reports, a certificate of liability, and a copy of the developer’s professional license. The developers of 663 Admiral Street were issued a demolition permit without submitting proper asbestos testing documentation from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Therefore, a stop work order has since been issued to halt the demolition. No further work will take place until the City’s Department of Inspections and Standards receives the proper documentation from the Department of Health confirming that there is no asbestos present at the site of 663 Admiral Street.
I have been in touch with the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management to confirm that the developer is complying with all regulations. I have also been in touch with the Department of Inspections and Standards to find out when and why this faulty permit was issued.
Additionally, it has come to my attention that the developer has changed the scope of the project and will no longer be seeking a zoning change for the site. This means the project will no longer be under the purview of the City Council. Instead, the City Planning Commission will be reviewing the project, based on regulatory requests made by the developer.
At this time, the matter does not fall under the jurisdiction of the City Council; however, I will remain closely engaged with the project and will continue to keep residents updated as new development plans emerge. The redevelopment of 663 Admiral Street is a keystone in improving the quality of life and public safety on Admiral Street and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The building has fallen into disrepair, becoming a hotspot for crime and dangerous behavior including a homicide last year.
I will continue working with all community stakeholders to ensure that the construction process, the scale and design of the project are all carried out with the utmost regard to the safety and character of Wanskuck and Elmhurst Neighborhoods.
Please follow this link for the Department of Inspection and Standards viewpoint page relating to this property: https://bit.ly/2Xa6UKK.
I was horrified to hear reports that at 6 A.M. this morning, a woman was pulled from her car and beaten by ATV riders while her eight-month-old child was in the car with her. As a husband, father and resident of Providence, this news is disturbing and deeply unsettling.
Firstly, the victim and her family are in my prayers. I have been in contact with Commander Verdi and he assures me the Police Department is working swiftly to apprehend the individuals who committed this heinous act of violence.
I am calling on my council colleagues to suspend our August recess to convene an emergency City Council as a Whole meeting. I am calling on Mayor Elorza, Commissioner Pare and the Providence Police Department to join us to discuss their plan to address the violence in our city, which has become an out of control, almost daily threat to the safety of our residents.
As local leaders, we owe it to our community to create systems which ensure that our city is a safe place to live and work. A woman driving in her car with her infant child should not have to fear being a victim of brutal physical violence.
The gun violence, the physical attacks and reckless behavior of individuals in our city have resulted in grief, loss, and fear in our community. It is time for the city to take decisive action to put a stop to this senseless violence and better serve the people trying to make a home in the city of Providence.
Councilman, Ward 14
Providence City Council
Last night, the Providence City Council passed Councilor David Salvatore’s ‘Green and Complete Streets’ ordinance which will pave the way for safer streets in Providence, while codifying the City’s commitment to developing infrastructure that is safe, reliable, sustainable, and accommodating to all residents.
“The passage of the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance is a big win for all Providence residents. Green and complete streets will not only improve how residents and visitors move through our city, but will also add important quality of life enhancements. This initiative will increase the number of trees in majority-minority neighborhoods, increase access to wellness pathways, and promote environmental justice,” stated Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14).
Green and Complete streets mean streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. The design guidelines ensure that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a street.
“Making safe and equitable streets in Providence an ordinance-guided standard is an enormous and critical step for every resident and visitor of the city, and is a dose of much-needed energy in the push for Green and Complete Streets around the entire state of Rhode Island. This is a big win that everyone should be celebrating, and the incredible support for this bill makes me confident that that’s exactly what everyone will be doing.” added C.J. Opperthauser, Co-Founder of WalkPVD and Director of Training & Placemaking at Grow Smart RI.
The ordinance was first proposed in December 2020. At that time, it was referred to the Committee on Ordinances, where residents and stakeholders submitted written and verbal testimony in support of the plan. Last night, the full Council approved the ordinance for final passage. Councilor Salvatore consulted with community advocates while drafting this ordinance to ensure that local needs are met as the City continues to move forward with street development.
“The American Heart Association (AHA) applauds the Providence City Council for supporting safe streets and active neighborhoods in the capital city by passing the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our cardiovascular health. Complete streets – sidewalks that connect to parks, public transportation, and schools; roads that include designated and protected bike lanes; and streets that accommodate all users – can help us safely be active and improve our quality of life. The AHA thanks Councilman Salvatore for his leadership on this important measure, and we hope other municipalities will follow Providence’s lead,” said Megan Tucker, RI Government Relations Director for the AHA.
The ordinance also aims to visually enhance city streets by expanding exposure to natural elements, and improves environmental quality by providing for reduction and on-site pretreatment of stormwater. The Green and Complete Streets ordinance will also play a role in improving air quality by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the city’s neighborhoods through the expansion of trees and greenspace.
“Planning, designing, and building roads that respond to the needs of all users will provide children, families, older adults and people of all abilities a variety of options for getting around –– walking, biking, taking public transportation, driving their own cars, and sharing rides with family and friends. Green and Complete Streets design allows everyone to share the road and get their own safe piece of the street. We applaud the sponsors and the city of Providence for taking up this important work,” stated Catherine Taylor, State Director, AARP RI.
The Green and Complete Streets ordinance requires the City of Providence to track the development of street performance measures, including, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sidewalks, traffic complaints, total miles of bike lanes and an inventory of street trees. This aggregated information will be publicly updated on the City of Providence website.
“The deep and broad support for this bill shows how Providence residents are ready for safer streets and more transportation choices, and we applaud the City Council for taking swift action. While the City is making progress on our physical street infrastructure, this bill will change our legal infrastructure to incorporate and normalize Green and Complete Streets designs into each new road construction project. This is literally how we design a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future for our community and future generations”, said Liza Burkin, Organizer of the Providence Streets Coalition.
This ordinance took effect upon passage. Councilor Salvatore will be immediately working with Mayor Elorza’s administration and community stakeholders to implement this new legislation.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) and John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a resolution calling for a review of Mayor Jorge Elorza’s license agreement with the charter school Achievement First, which grants the charter school use of space in a City-owned elementary school. The resolution describes how the execution of license agreement did not follow the required public process outlined in Section 416 (6) of the City Charter which requires a resolution of the City Council to enter into a lease of a City building. This resolution was passed by the full council.
“With the current state of Providence’s school system, City leaders should all be working together to ensure that major decisions such as this license agreement are carefully considered and deliberated. It is customary for the City Council to review any lease of City property, and it is in the best interest of Mayor Elorza, Achievement First and all Providence students for the Council to take the time to properly vet this agreement,” stated Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2).
According to the City Charter, any lease of City owned property must be authorized by the City Council. Mayor Elorza entered into a license agreement wherein Achievement First will rent a portion of the property located at the Charles M. Fortes Elementary school for the purpose of operating a charter school at this location beginning in September. The City Council was not given the opportunity to review or approve this agreement prior to it being finalized.
“The City Council is the legislative body of the City of Providence. We are here to provide an open, democratic process for the City’s development and initiatives. It is disappointing that the mayoral administration did not initially reach out for Council input on a plan which involves the lease of valuable public property. We are calling on the administration to comply with the City Charter and allow for due process,” added Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).
In March of 2015, the City Council reviewed a similar situation, in which The International Charter School was being considered to lease the Windmill Street School building. This request was communicated by the City’s Director of Public Property to the City Council. The Council’s Committee on City Property reviewed the request and reported back to the full Council, which voted to against the lease agreement.
“Moving forward, communication and transparency between our City’s governing bodies should be a priority. As a City Council, we cannot fulfill our duties if we cannot work collaboratively with the Mayor and other City departments. While charter schools remain a contentious issue in our city, this is also a matter of principle and good government. We are committed to adhering to the requirements set forth by the city charter, which provides the foundation of our city government,” added Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.
Approved budget contains no tax increases and uses $42 million in stimulus funds for small business relief, youth investments, free public Internet access, and more.
Tonight, the Providence City Council voted to approve a $539 million FY 2022 City Budget including $42 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address both immediate needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term investments that will pay dividends for years to come. The budget holds the line on residential and commercial property taxes, while funding key City services that residents expect and deserve.
Tonight’s vote to approve the FY 2022 City budget follows 5 weeks and more than 11 Finance Committee hearings to receive input from the Mayor’s office, Council members, and city residents and community organizations.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza for working collaboratively to put together and pass this budget that invests in our city at a time of great challenge for our residents,” said City Council President John J. Igliozzi. “Developing this budget during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge. Through months of hearings, we have heard just how hard hit our families, small businesses, and community organizations have been by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To address these needs, I am pleased that we are able to utilize $42 million in ARPA funds to invest in summer programming for our youth, early learning programs, free public internet access at parks and recreation centers, anti-violence programs, homeless interventions, street sweeping and sewer repairs, our public libraries, and relief for our small businesses. In addition, this budget continues to invest in core City services including inspections and public safety, while holding the line on taxes.”
Continued Igiozzi, “I also want to highlight this budget’s investment in public safety, which will provide the staffing and resources necessary to respond to criminal activity and to keep the people of our city safe. Talking with residents, many have said they are worried about a rise in crime and support smart investments in our police department, as well as substantive reforms to address community concerns about some policing practices. That is why this budget includes funding for recruitment of new police officers to protect our neighborhoods, and also creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the police department to resolve public safety issues that would be better dealt with through outreach and partnerships with City agencies and community-based organizations.”
“During this time of great need, I am pleased that my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza have worked together to pass a budget that helps our residents, small businesses, and community organizations get through the COVID-19 pandemic, while making long term investments in our city,” said Councilwoman and Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan. “I am particularly pleased that this budget provides $7 million in direct relief for Providence’s small businesses, invests in early education for our youth, and invests in basic City services like public safety and housing and building safety inspections to address quality of life issues.”
FY 2022 City budget highlights include:
•No property tax increases.
•Invests in the Department of Inspections and Standards to deal with quality-of-life issues.
•Invests in the Department of Public Property to hire additional personnel to handle projects in a more efficient and timely fashion.
•Creates a new Department of Equity and Inclusion.
•Invests in public safety, including expansion of diversion efforts, creating anti-violence programs, and provisions to fund recruitment of new Providence Police officers.
•Continues to invest in City parks with a portion of Tax Stabilization revenue going to the Parks and Recreation fund.
•Provides an additional $300,000 for Providence Community Centers for programs that qualify for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources.
•Creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the Providence Police Department.
•10% of tax revenue from projects with a Tax Stabilization Agreement (TSA) will be dedicated to supporting debt service on the $25M Providence Redevelopment Agency Special Obligation Bond that funded the Providence Housing Trust in FY21.
•Invests $350,000 to expand the number of pre-kindergarten classrooms in Providence, increasing access to quality early learning programs.
•Invests ARPA funds for night basketball, recreational center programs for our youths, free internet access at our largest parks and recreation centers, sewer repair fund, and a $7 million small business relief fund.
This morning, Councilor David Salvatore and the Friends of Fargnoli Park announced that the splash pad located at Fargnoli Park will be operating with special hours to accommodate the elderly and persons with disabilities.
The water park will be open exclusively to the elderly and persons with disabilities from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM on Thursdays, and will open to the general public each day at 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM.
“Access to our neighborhood parks and recreational facilities should be possible for all residents of varying ages and abilities. As we get through the hot summer months, I am proud to have worked with the Friends of Fargnoli Park to ensure that our newly renovated waterpark is safe and functional for all who want to use it,” stated Councilor David Salvatore.
All city water parks are free and open to the public. In cases of extreme heat, the city may extend water park hours. For a full list of local water parks and pools, click here: https://bit.ly/3yy4Mte
“The Friends of Fargnoli Park have been working hard to create programming for our community. Making the new water park features accessible to all our Senior Friends and Friends with Disabilities creates the inclusion and equity we pride ourselves on having. We look forward to seeing our entire community enjoy Fargnoli Park.”
Fargnoli Park is located at 945 Smith Street.Questions and concerns regarding Fargnoli Park and the water park can be directed to the Friends of Fargnoli Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.