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 .
Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) and Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) introduced a resolution at last night’s City Council Meeting calling on the City of Providence to recognize July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day. The resolution was co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Councilor David A. Salvatore (Ward 14, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilwoman Helen Anthony, Esq. (Ward 2), and Councilor Kat Kerwin (Ward 12).
“Nelson Mandela International Day was inspired by President Mandela’s call for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that ‘it is in your hands now,’ stated Councilman John Goncalves. “Nelson Mandela International Day is more than a celebration of his life and legacy, but it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better. I believe that those of us in public service should heed that call and all work towards making a better tomorrow for those that come after us. From what we see happening in our own country at this very time, I believe that we can look to the work that President Mandela did and make a real change like he was able to achieve in his lifetime.”
On July 18, 2009 the United Nations declared Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of the former President of South Africa’s dedication to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic South Africa.
President Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who was imprisoned in 1962 for conspiring to overthrow the anti-apartheid government. He was originally sentenced to life in prison but was released 27 years later. His release came after outcries from world leaders, and due to the civil unrest and the fear of a civil war. For these reasons, President F. W. de Klerk released Mandela in 1990. Together, they worked to negotiate an end to apartheid which resulted in Mr. Mandela being elected the first Black President of South Africa in 1994.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela shared this story, “A friend once asked me how I could reconcile my creed of African nationalism with a belief in dialectical materialism. For me, there was no contradiction, I was first and foremost an African nationalist fighting for our emancipation from minority rule and the right to control our own destiny. But at the same time, South Africa and the African continent were part of the larger world. Our problems, while distinctive and special, were not unique, and a philosophy that placed those problems in an international and historical context of the greater world and the course of history was valuable. I was prepared to use whatever means necessary to speed up the erasure of human prejudice and the end of chauvinistic and violent nationalism.” Time goes on, but still, President Mandela’s words ring true today as they did then.
Mandela served one term as South Africa’s President and left to become a philanthropist who focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through his foundation. In 1993, upon a visit to the United Stated Mandela was awarded one of the United States’ highest honors, the Liberty Medal, by then-President Bill Clinton. The same year he and President F. W. de Klerk were joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
President Mandela was an ardent supporter of education and education for all. He once stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” President Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013.
Sadly, his youngest daughter, Zindzi Mandela, died at the age of 59 on Monday, July 13, 2020. Ms. Mandela served as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is world renown for his values and his dedication to the service of humanity, through his work as a humanitarian in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of the poor and underdeveloped communities.
“Tomorrow around the world there will be celebrations honoring the extraordinary life and enduring legacy of President Mandela. Let us take a moment here in Providence, especially with all of the division in our world, to come together in unity and solidarity, to reflect and follow in Mandela’s footsteps in advocating for a more peaceful, sustainable and equitable city for all,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.
By investing and supporting in structures, programs, and policies that align with the
Just Providence Framework and the City’s Climate Justice Plan
Councilwomen Helen Anthony (Ward 2) and Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), along with co-sponsors Councilors Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), John Goncalves (Ward 1), Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Councilor David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) introduced a resolution at tonight’s City Council meeting calling on the City of Providence to commit to developing an anti-racist institution that prioritizes investment and support structures, that align with the Just Providence Framework and the City’s Climate Justice Plan.
“Climate change impacts our marginalized communities disproportionately, stated Councilor Helen Anthony. The City’s Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee have done an excellent job creating a plan that addresses the interconnected issues of public health, racism, climate, and environmental sustainability.”
The resolution points out specific markers in history where city leaders repeatedly failed residents of color. Black and Indigenous communities were displaced to build industrial sites, highways, and roads. Schools that serve predominantly students of color lack resources; schools –
Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune stated, “We can not build a just and equitable society without addressing the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable community members. The Office of Sustainability and the Racial and Environmental committee are committed to working with the community to ensure that climate and sustainability plans recognize the intersection of race and class as an indicator in Environmental Justice assessments. Tonight’s resolution is a movement seeking to rectify policies and structures that failed to acknowledge Black, indigenous and communities of color in climate and other environmental-related initiatives. It is up to all of us to work together to make sustainability and environmental justice a guiding principle in addressing climate change.”
“The Climate Justice Plan is recognized as a national leader and model for community-centered planning, power-shifting, and climate justice. The Office of Sustainability is being tasked with updating existing policies such as zoning, developing new programs such as ‘Green Justice Zones’ in our frontline communities, and creating new policies to help mitigate the climate crisis we are facing, especially in these frontline communities where the crisis is only exacerbating health and economic inequities. As elected officials, it is incumbent on us to support them in this much-needed endeavor,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.
Tonight’s resolution calls on the City to commit to transforming to an anti-racist institution by following the “Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization,” to support and invest in structures, programs, and policies that align with the Justice Providence Framework and the Climate Justice Plan.
Councilor Kat Kerwin shared, “Further, this resolution requests that the Office of Sustainability be supported in the FY21 budget so that it may improve the lives of Providence’s BIPOC communities. And that they can continue their work to mitigate long-term climate threats and reduce the loss of life with solutions that result in clean air and water, climate-resistant low-income housing, community health initiatives, environmental justice, youth programs, and economic justice.”
“The time for us to act is now,” stated Councilman John Goncalves. “Our futures depend on the resiliency that we cultivate today so that we may grow a brighter tomorrow for the next generation of all Providence residents. The interconnectedness of climate justice, housing, and economic prosperity for all is dependent on us working together today to address and mitigate the social issues that are caused by an ever-changing climate.”
Finally, the resolution also requests that the City follow the Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership outlined in the Climate Justice Plan and move towards a collaborative governance decision-making process that centers those who are most impacted by the current health, environment, and economic crises.
“Our residents and our future residents deserve nothing less,” stated Councilman Pedro Espinal. “The time is now for us to take action, and I believe that we can change the trajectory of our collective history by working together.”
Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), and co-sponsors Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilor David A. Salvatore (Ward 14), and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) introduced a resolution tonight calling on the Department of Planning and Development to promulgate strict rules around employment and contracts relating to the I-195 Tax Stabilization Agreement (TSA).
“The requirements outlined in our TSAs impose specific employment criteria that developers must adhere to in exchange for being provided an incentivized tax structure,” stated City Council President Matos. “Providence needs to ensure that we are putting our residents to work and that we are developing our own local economy. When developers ask to be exempt from these requirements, they are seeking to receive special tax benefits without having to make a meaningful contribution to the residents of this City.”
Section 21-266 of the Code of Ordinances defines strict employment standards that all developers must abide by should they wish to obtain a TSA within the City. These employment standards include dedicating at least 10% of the construction costs for Minority (MBEs) and Women-owned Businesses (WBEs), as well as ensuring that 100% of the construction hours worked on the project are done by contractors who have or are affiliated with an apprenticeship program. The Code of Ordinances currently provides the Director of Planning with authority to reduce these employment requirements should a Developer petition the Director to do so. President Matos’ resolution is aimed directly at these petitions for relief by asking the Director of Planning to promulgate strict and specific rules regarding how petitions will be evaluated moving forward.
President Matos continued, “All too often we hear stories of our local MBEs and WBEs being overlooked by contractors and developers. We are a city on the proverbial financial cliff, our residents need to work, and making it harder for developers and owners to no longer be able to get around these requirements will go a long way to keeping our residents working, and ensuring that our city continues to grow forward.”
The resolution will require the Director of the Department of Planning and Development to create strict rules and regulations governing the procedure by which petitioners for relief of Section 21-261 are vetted and approved.