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Cotuit

Top-10 Actionable Issues Facing Providence?

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Last night's Forum Meet was good, a similar small, but different group from the last one. Thanks to PVDJack and glassandsteel for the beers and thanks to mikepl for the awesome space.

The consensus from both last night's and the previous meeting was that people would like to see the discussions and ideas here move off the forum and somehow formally be presented to the decision makers in the city. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people in city government and people from the big development companies reading (and sometimes commenting here), so we are being heard.

The idea from last night was to (in PVDJack's words) make a list of the low-hanging fruit. What are the things plaguing the city that can be acted on right now (or close to right now) to improve the city?

I believe that the people who post here really do have similar views about how the city should (and needs to) improve. Some of us are more swept up in the glamour and excitement of the shiny new buildings than others, eltron can always be counted on to swoop in and tell us all to calm down and think about things for a minute, but all in all, we all have similar goals, if slightly different ideas about how to reach those goals. We slide into the equation somewhere between the city leaders, who are scrambling to do anything to get more tax money into the city, and can, at times be blinded by that goal (though I think we have great leadership in Ciccilline and Deller who are true champions of smart urbanisim), and the kooky Fox Pointer lets have tree-lined highways NIMBYs who panic anytime anything is proposed anywhere.

So your assignement in this thread is to come up with your top-10 (or top-5 or top-3) issues facing the city, that can be acted on rather quickly, and rather cheaply to make a big impact on the livabilty of the area. Some ideas are general maintenance of the streets and sidewalks, city signage (street signage and trailblazers), improved lighting, grafitti removal... You can also throw some of the bigger visions in their if you feel that they will have a big impact for the buck.

The goal is to create a list, and try to come to a consensus on how these issues should be tackled, and then present our opinions to the city. This will be done both online in this thread, and if there is interest, in later face-to-face meetings. At both forum meets there was a feeling that people would like to set up a semi-regular time to meet to discuss these issues. Mikepl has offered the roof of Peerless for future meetings, there is a heated enclosed space on the roof where we can meet (if you didn't come last night, you really missed out, we really needed Garris' camera skills last night).

So present your problems and let's hash out the solutions and see what we come up with.

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1. Cleanup the Parks

One of my biggest yet easiest to deal with issues is the maintenance of city parks. The parks would be so much better if the Parks department simply emptied the trash and picked up litter on a regular basis. I walked through Dexter Training Ground this morning and realized I have seen the same trash for almost a week in the overflowing barrels. I pick up what I can, but really how hard is it to empty trash? I am not asking for grass, curbs, new sidewalks, new trees, playground equipment..just empty the damn barrels!

2. Street Signs

I am not originally from here, instead I come from a place that has street signs at both the main and cross streets. Amazing I know. I cannot stress enough how easily visitors perception of a city can be marred in an instant by lack of propert signage. If someone get slost because a street is not marked, or turns into another street without letting them know, it only causes frustration and resentment. Street signs can be vandal protected. Other places do it, so can Providence.

3. Road conditions

Pave them regularly. Keep them free of litter. All I have to say.

Keeping Providence clean and looking maintained from a Public Works/Recreation standpoint goes a long way.

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1. Cleanup the Parks

One of my biggest yet easiest to deal with issues is the maintenance of city parks. The parks would be so much better if the Parks department simply emptied the trash and picked up litter on a regular basis. I walked through Dexter Training Ground this morning and realized I have seen the same trash for almost a week in the overflowing barrels. I pick up what I can, but really how hard is it to empty trash? I am not asking for grass, curbs, new sidewalks, new trees, playground equipment..just empty the damn barrels!

2. Street Signs

I am not originally from here, instead I come from a place that has street signs at both the main and cross streets. Amazing I know. I cannot stress enough how easily visitors perception of a city can be marred in an instant by lack of propert signage. If someone get slost because a street is not marked, or turns into another street without letting them know, it only causes frustration and resentment. Street signs can be vandal protected. Other places do it, so can Providence.

3. Road conditions

Pave them regularly. Keep them free of litter. All I have to say.

Keeping Providence clean and looking maintained from a Public Works/Recreation standpoint goes a long way.

1. Park clean up.. can that responsibility be added to the DID's list of jobs? The impact that this will make definately out weighs the cost. In addition to maintenance of the park, why not re-plant all of the grass with top grade sod and keep that grass immaculate? The parks aren't terribly big anyways, no need for a mix of weeds and patchy grass. rocky northeast soil is no excuse

2. How long ago was Providence listed as one of the top 10 most stressful/confusing places to drive around? 2003-04? It almost seems as if Providence, along with the rest of the state, is becoming known for bad street quality, confusing streets (too many one ways and bad signage), bad public transit, and bad drivers. We can fix 2 of those 4 problems fairly quick. As for the other 2...RIPTA will take some time to improve (new busses are the first sign), and the bad drivers.. no comment!

(I favor those newer street signs that are along Memorial Blvd. Nearby Citizens. The are high up, dark green, and the border is a bunch of squares with X's, or some other pattern, in the middle of them)

These 2 issues, along with repavement of streets and replacement of sidewalks where neccesary should REALLY be tackled BEFORE any of these high end condos cut the ribbon for opening day.

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I think (seriously) the number one thing that should be done for this city is a mandatory urban planning seminar for all residents. People here, and in the entire state at that, are far too ignorant when it comes to urbanism, what works, what doesn't, pros and cons, etc. etc. I would love to host a seminar that will educate people on why condos in downtown, public transportation, etc., are good for the metro region as a whole. It seems that right now one of the major things holding the area back are the negative and ignorant attitudes of many of our fellow neighbors.

Now obviously mandating people go to such meetings would never work, so I say offer them free Dunkin Donuts or something, that'd be a huge incentive for any Rhode Islander.

And yes I'm being 100% serious.

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Having an urban planning seminar is definitely a good idea. Perhaps each neighborhood association should have to present it at one of the monthly meetings.

After the meeting, the attendees can go clean a park. :D

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Does anyone know if there are any downcity neighborhood associations. It would be great to have one that incorporated all the folks that live down there (at least those interested)- That's something that I would consider to be actionable if it hasn't happened already. We have many ideas (we being mostly people who do not live in downcity) but it would be great to have an organized voice for those who do live there. It would also be a good idea to invite people to participate who have lived downtown for a number of years now (maybe include center place as well)... we could ask them what would be really useful or enjoyable and see if any trends appear...

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Yes downtown does have a downcity neighborhood association ( 45 people I think )

They meet on the first of every month but since I havent been to a meeting yet I do not know alot about them. I will try and find out more.

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Over the past few months I have been lurking around this site, listening to what people have to say, trying to figure out how to contribute in a meaningful way and have made an occasional comment. I thought about attending your gathering last evening, but I was conflicted out by work and my son's little league game. Later in the evening, I was again lurking and as I read the varous posts I began to wonder if there was a way that what you all are saying could be more clearly directed to the city. I must admit that I am one of those government types that checks out the page and must thank Coutit for his kind words. I also want to say that we think about more then increased tax dollars.

Being a city official is difficult; we are pulled in many directions by many people and views. We are trying hard to listen, but there are many people that we don't hear from simply because they don't contact us.

Your idea is great; we need to hear what people think and how we can address it. Your idea of face to face is also important because that gives us an oppotunity to tell you what we are doing. I will gladly meet with you to discuss your ideas. I will act as facilitator to bring other department heads and city officials to the meeting to discuss issues that are not my area. The only thing I ask is that you give us ample time to arrange our schedules. Most of us are out at least two nights a week and I do like to spend some time with my wife and kids. My administrative assistant Marcia schedules my calendar 351-4300 ext 609. or if you want to contact me directly my email is [email protected], just don't expect an immediate response, I'm a bit overwheled with emails at the moment.

And by the way expect announcments in the coming months of a 200+- building next to the Majestic Garage, a 200 + building (subject to tenants) at 190 Dyer and plans for the old public safety facility (two towers around 200 and a parking garage).

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Over the past few months I have been lurking around this site, listening to what people have to say, trying to figure out how to contribute in a meaningful way and have made an occasional comment. I thought about attending your gathering last evening, but I was conflicted out by work and my son's little league game. Later in the evening, I was again lurking and as I read the varous posts I began to wonder if there was a way that what you all are saying could be more clearly directed to the city. I must admit that I am one of those government types that checks out the page and must thank Coutit for his kind words. I also want to say that we think about more then increased tax dollars.

Being a city official is difficult; we are pulled in many directions by many people and views. We are trying hard to listen, but there are many people that we don't hear from simply because they don't contact us.

Your idea is great; we need to hear what people think and how we can address it. Your idea of face to face is also important because that gives us an oppotunity to tell you what we are doing. I will gladly meet with you to discuss your ideas. I will act as facilitator to bring other department heads and city officials to the meeting to discuss issues that are not my area. The only thing I ask is that you give us ample time to arrange our schedules. Most of us are out at least two nights a week and I do like to spend some time with my wife and kids. My administrative assistant Marcia schedules my calendar 351-4300 ext 609. or if you want to contact me directly my email is [email protected], just don't expect an immediate response, I'm a bit overwheled with emails at the moment.

And by the way expect announcments in the coming months of a 200+- building next to the Majestic Garage, a 200 + building (subject to tenants) at 190 Dyer and plans for the old public safety facility (two towers around 200 and a parking garage).

Your last paragraph is good news...I just wish and hope the city is pushing developers to go as high as possible - you know, 250-275 feet - Providence just has to make every effort to look like the second largest city in New England. Appearence and skyline do make a difference to both potential investors and visitors.

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1. Cleanup the Parks

One of my biggest yet easiest to deal with issues is the maintenance of city parks. The parks would be so much better if the Parks department simply emptied the trash and picked up litter on a regular basis. I walked through Dexter Training Ground this morning and realized I have seen the same trash for almost a week in the overflowing barrels. I pick up what I can, but really how hard is it to empty trash? I am not asking for grass, curbs, new sidewalks, new trees, playground equipment..just empty the damn barrels!

2. Street Signs

I am not originally from here, instead I come from a place that has street signs at both the main and cross streets. Amazing I know. I cannot stress enough how easily visitors perception of a city can be marred in an instant by lack of propert signage. If someone get slost because a street is not marked, or turns into another street without letting them know, it only causes frustration and resentment. Street signs can be vandal protected. Other places do it, so can Providence.

3. Road conditions

Pave them regularly. Keep them free of litter. All I have to say.

Keeping Providence clean and looking maintained from a Public Works/Recreation standpoint goes a long way.

Here is an outsider's perspective:

All great observations

Item 2 is a big factor...bigger, non-weathered, and clearer signs for visitors

Item 3 is tough to do in a big northeastern city but absolutely a major "visitor" factor for the major roadways

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More consistent ticketing of illegally parked cars in the neighborhoods, specifically cars that park too close to a street intersection, bus stop, or in a crosswalk. These illegally parked cars impact pedestrian safety.

On the flip side, the city needs to replace old street parking signs that are unreadable or have been knocked down so as to clearly indicate where on street parking is permitted. Repainting the curbs yellow where parking is prohibited would also help.

There are a lot of street corners and pedestrian crossings that do not have curb cut-outs. This would make it easier for special needs people to move around.

Pedestrian crossing signals need to be repaired more frequently.

The streets need to be swept weekly spring through fall, not 5 or 6 times a year.

Yard waste should also be picked up weekly from spring through fall without a summer gap like we have now.

That's all I can think of regarding the low hanging fruit. Everyone's covered off the other big ones like trash, sidewalks, street signs, etc.

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Simple cleanliness is a MAJOR factor in Providence's self-image and image to outsiders. Aside from parks, the streets of most of the city are frankly disgusting most days.

1) Public Works needs to enforce trash management and recycling laws for residential properties, and increase the yard waste pick up days. This will drastically reduce the city-wide rat problem, and save the city tens of thousands of dollars in landfill fees.

2) Waste Management needs to stop throwing stray garbage and trash barrels into the middle of the street after their trucks pick up. If city contractors can't respect our neighborhoods, we need to find contractors who can.

3)We need to get rid of this ridiculous system where you can put out any size of appliance any trash pick up day, for free. This is unheard of in any other city. Our streets are filled with old fridges, stoves, air conditioners, you name it. In other cities people have to pay extra to dispose of large objects.

4) We need street sweeping at least every other week, like every other city around.

5) Dept of Inspections and Standards needs to actually cite people for code violations, and respond when people complain about derelict properties

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I am not downtown daily so I dont get to see the everyday trash, but some people say that the DID is keeping Providence really clean, and some others say it is disgusting.

is there a happy medium?

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I am not downtown daily so I dont get to see the everyday trash, but some people say that the DID is keeping Providence really clean, and some others say it is disgusting.

is there a happy medium?

The DID is only right downtown. I'm talking about residential areas.

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I also want to say that we think about more then increased tax dollars.

Oh, I know that, but the city is charged with keeping an eye on the bottom line moreso than anyone else. It's hard for the city to put itself in the position of saying, let's build something smaller and damn that loss of tax dollars.

Your idea is great; we need to hear what people think and how we can address it. Your idea of face to face is also important because that gives us an oppotunity to tell you what we are doing. I will gladly meet with you to discuss your ideas. I will act as facilitator to bring other department heads and city officials to the meeting to discuss issues that are not my area. The only thing I ask is that you give us ample time to arrange our schedules.

I think what I'd like to see happen is for us to try to have another forum meet in early November to discuss what we've come up with in this thread. You're of course welcome to come and bring anyone you'd like to invite. But I'd like to see us try to have an early December meeting with the idea of having a strong list of things we'd like to present to the city at that point. There's a balance that should be struck between us wasting your time with a nebulous set of ideas, and us wasting time brainstorming on stuff that you could tell us aren't really actionable from the get go.

I know you're schedule is tight, you're always welcome to come to any meetings we set up, the November meeting might be more of a drinking beers throwing things out there informal type of thing, which has its own allure. But I'd like to have something ready for first week of December which may be more productive you to attend. If you'd like to propose a date, we should be able to work around your needs.

And by the way expect announcments in the coming months of a 200+- building next to the Majestic Garage, a 200 + building (subject to tenants) at 190 Dyer and plans for the old public safety facility (two towers around 200 and a parking garage).

Two things.

Can we get rid of Dyer Street? We have Memorial, Dyer, Eddy. All online mapping software totally messes up that section of the city, it's hard to give directions. It should just be Memorial all the way to Eddy, get rid of Dyer.

Is the Old Public Safety Complex getting demolished?

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Synchronize the Traffic Lights

This is one of my biggest peeves, how ridiculous is it to have to stop at every light on the service road? or on Broad St? As soon as your light goes green the next one goes red.

Any real city worth its salt can do this. The way the lights are now wastes fuel and time and probably causes more driving stress and illegal manoeuvres than any other factor (at least in my world). Allowing a right turn on red was instituted supposedly to save fuel at a time of crisis. Synchronization should be started now for the same reasons. Drivers here (I'm originally from New York) don't seem to understand gridlock and how not to "block the box". Arrrg, I'll go finish my coffee now.

Oh yeah, and howabout some designated secure scooter/motorcycle parking in some tight areas to encourage alternative transportation in the city?

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Synchronize the Traffic Lights

This is one of my biggest peeves, how ridiculous is it to have to stop at every light on the service road? or on Broad St? As soon as your light goes green the next one goes red.

Supposedly the city has received some federal money for this.

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I think what I'd like to see happen is for us to try to have another forum meet in early November to discuss what we've come up with in this thread. You're of course welcome to come and bring anyone you'd like to invite. But I'd like to see us try to have an early December meeting with the idea of having a strong list of things we'd like to present to the city at that point.

I like this proposal. On a related note, I'd love to see general UP PVD meetups on a monthly basis. As it stands it seems they are infrequent enough that if you miss one it can be months before you have another opportunity.

Finally, thank you Thom for your openness and accessibility -- it's great to see!

Jack

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3) (Providence) this was brought up at the peerless the other night, Snow removal. Instead of the wait and see game that was spoke of, what if we started a little campaign of email, postal mail , and phone call the nip this in the but before it happens

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I wasn't there... fill me in! What about snow removal?

It's not removed, and the city and state are the biggest offenders. The bridges over Route 95, sidewalks around any city park, the sidewalks around the Old Public Safety Complex, the sidewalks on the Point Street Bridge...

Then their are the vacant storefronts where the landlords don't shovel, the city needs to be fining these absentee landlords and making sure the stidewalks are shoveled.

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Fantastic idea...!

I've been crazy busy lately, but I will get my thoughts up soon...As well as make a point to make the next meeting....

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Over the past few months I have been lurking around this site, listening to what people have to say, trying to figure out how to contribute in a meaningful way and have made an occasional comment... I must admit that I am one of those government types that checks out the page and must thank Coutit for his kind words...

Being a city official is difficult; we are pulled in many directions by many people and views. We are trying hard to listen, but there are many people that we don't hear from simply because they don't contact us.

I will gladly meet with you to discuss your ideas. I will act as facilitator to bring other department heads and city officials to the meeting to discuss issues that are not my area.

First of all, thank you very much for reading UP-Providence, and an additional thank you for offering to serve as an intermediary and fascilitator. I think that Cotuit, myself, and others have been saying for some time that there needs to be some type of pro-urbanism voice within the Providence citizenry to balance out the raft of special interests with their narrower foci and more provincial goals.

Addressing the additional question of a list of actionable issues facing Providence, I'll need to think about this important question quite a bit more, but I think that basachs really has the right idea to kick-off the process. Here is that same top three with some alterations, thoughs, and an addition. I don't know how "cheap" this all would be, but certain elements of it are critical.

1: Infrastructure Upgrades:

Status: If America as a nation and Providence in particular has taken its eye off one ball, it's infrastructure. This includes sidewalks, roads, bridges, and intersections. Frankly, all of these areas without exception feel downright neglected. From the tony East Side to South Providence... Sidewalks look terrible, intersections are pedestrian unfriendly, roads are amongst the worst I've ever seen, and let's not discuss lighting... Frankly, when things look and feel neglected, it usually only leads people to neglect them even more. When people visit me in Providence, after the good things they notice, their first criticism without fail is that the entire place feels "run down." It's time for that to change...

Plan: A 15 year project, with a phase every 5 years, of massive infrastructure upgrades to the city, starting at the core/downtown, moving to the adjacent neighborhoods next, and finally the rim neighborhoods. Maximal attention needs to be given to walking the city. We should study the best cities in this regard and do better. You should be able to walk from one side of the city to the other easily, clearly, and happily. Our sidewalks need to be wide, built to last, have ample benches, outstanding lighting, and friendly crosswalks. All of the pedestrian neighborhood connectors (ex, Federal Hill to Promenade, both to Downtown, better East Side to downtown) all need to be planned well and built. It should be a system that invites people to walk, not repels them. Roads in these areas need to be paved (high quality, planning for the long term) and Cathedral Square needs to be demolished and converted to Westminster immediately. Following this, a second 15 year plan of assessment, tinkering, and maintanence needs to follow.

If I were Mayor, this 15 year infrastructure plan with the Cathedral Sq demolition as the symbolic first act would be my first, second, and third priority.

2: Signage:

Status: This is the second negative thing people notice about Providence who come to visit. I won't go into detail about this as we're all familiar with the problem.

Plan: As part of the above 15 year project, a series of uniform, large, easy to read, attractive, and classy signage is designed and implemented. The signage should be at every crossroad and include both the main and side streets and major building number range at each intersection. The signage should be color coated to the neighborhood of the city (see my "vision" plan below) and list the neighborhood name on the sign. Also, like on Smith Hill, banners should be up every so often with the neighborhood name on them to give visitors and natives a better sense of "place." Also, as part of signage, all crosswalk signs (Walk/Don't Walk) need to work and there needs to be an inspection process put into place to check these every so often.

3: Vision

Status: We've moved rivers, we've built malls, we have first class theater and arts, and great colleges and universities, but I think everyone senses there something lacking going forward... A sense of direction and vision. Residential is going everywhere, retail is going everywhere... I really believe that Prov 2020, while maybe technically proficient, is completely lacking in the vision department... Where or what is our theater district exactly? Where is our night life district? Where is our waterfront district? Our arts or museum or shopping district? What's our next great civic leap as a community?

Plan: Drawing on Philadelphia as a model (look at any map of Philly online), we have to develop a map of Providence and have easy to grasp, color coded breakdowns of the city (especially downtown) by rough purpose or name. This means developing some communal policies to support the districting. The public and private sectors need to decide what Westminster, Weybosset, Washington, Dorrance, Empire, Eddy, etc, etc are going to become, and then make it happen. Also, there needs to be one big civic goal/plan for down the road to give people something to dream about. I would like to see that be the next great urban neighborhood on a Ship St. Canal... There also needs to be one "wow" entry gateway to the city. I don't care if it's the new Providence bridge, the Point Street bridge overpass, or what it is, but we need a bold announcement to travellers on the 95 that they're here, and something to make them wonder what's beyond the highway and show them there's a populace here that cares and is proud...

4: Civic Upkeep:

Status: Along with infrastructure upgrades and maintenance needs to be overall civic upgrades and upkeep. This means parks where lawns have grass and are actually mowed. It means once in a blue moon pulling/weekwackings some weeks along sidewalks. It means upgrading landscaping and having medians, sidewalks, crosswalks, and other public spaces with flowers, shrubs, benches, and other public spaces that looks like someone cares. It's an embarrassment that even our "signature" civic spaces like Kennedy Plaza, Burnside Park, Waterplace Park, Prospect Park, etc, etc look warn down, forgotten, and neglected (there's that word again).

Plan: These upgrades too could be rolled into the 15 year master plan I outlined above. Cotuit has already made fantastic suggestions for pulblic-private enterprises on the order of what NYC has done with some of their parks. It's time to put the neighborhood associations money and time with their big NIMBY mouths are and have them start to work on some voluntary upkeep as well. Similarly, it's time for legislation with teeth to make sure property owners can't pave over lawns and need to keep their property clean.

There also needs to be a Graffiti taskforce to remove the vandalism and arrest the people doing it. There's nothing that says, "We don't care about our city!" than rampant graffiti. Ask anyone familiar with NYC during the 70's and 80's...

5: Universal Wireless:

Doesn't this make sense? We're one of the smallest, densest cities in the US. We're chocked full of universities, hospitals, and new high density developments. Let's get universal wireless for Providence. Look at all the tremendous press Philly is getting for even considering this right now. We'd beat Boston and maybe every other New England city to the punch in an area in which Providence has no real reputation for strength (high-tech). Our struggling school systems would benefit, as would Providence's high areas of poverty...

That's all I have time for right now... More from up high on the soap box later...

- Garris

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Can we get rid of Dyer Street?

Is the Old Public Safety Complex getting demolished?

If my memory serves me, Dyer Street will go away with the completion of th I 195 relocation.

And, yes the old public safety gets demolished.

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I'm actually going away for a couple weeks on Friday, so I won't have a chance to really get into the meat of some of these topics until I get back, but I wanted to touch on the parks issue right now while I'm thinking about it.

One good thing (hopefully) about the parks is that the city recently hired a new parks director, Alix R. Ogden. I don't really know if she's yet proving to be what the city needs in that area, and it may be too soon to judge, but at the very least it's good to have some new blood. Something that is immediately actionable on parks is that you can contact the parks department directly. I emailed them a link to the thread we had here a while back on the dogs in parks situation, and I got a prompt personal reply thanking me for the input, acknowledging that they read it, and would be sure that Ms. Ogden knew about it (whether she was ever made aware of it, I don't know, as it turns out it was a thread that petered out rather quickly).

Garris mentioned my mention of The Central Park Conservancy and The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation both in New York. These are private, non-profit organizations charged with maintaining the parks. They are allowed to hold functions in the parks to raise funds to go into the parks (notably in Bryant Park there is New York Fashion Week and also the annual Holiday Fair). Bryant Park has kiosks that are rented out to sell various foodstuffs to park patrons, I used to spend most of my lunch hours there, even in the dead of winter (and even in the dead of winter, the place was packed because the park is an environment where people want to be).

I would propose combining Burnside Park with the Skating Center, and the park between the Skating Center and the Biltmore into one park district, and creating a management agency to run it. Bring kiosks into Burnside to sell food and draw office workers into the park for lunch. Expand the Monday Market. Have a Holiday Fair in the parks. A private agency would be vested in booking events at the skating center during the summer to bring in money for the park. In winter the manangement agency would run the skating rink. Care, upkeep, and security would fall to the managment agency. Burnside is ideal because it is desperate for positive attention, the skating center is a built in revenue generator, the centralized location makes it perfect for events, and there is a large audience of office workers and residents to patronize the park.

Waterplace would also be a good candidate for this kind of attention, I would combine Waterplace with Station Park in this case. Currently the DID yellow jackets patrol both areas, and I don't really see them as having the resources to tackle the issues in these two areas. And I don't think they should be, the businesses who are being taxed for the yellow jackets should be the ones served by it, the parks are a seperate issue.

For neighbourhood parks, the neighbourhood groups should most certainly be putting their money where their mouths are. The city could implement an adopt-a-park program, and I'm not talking about sticking up an ugly sign with a corporate name on it, and that's the end of it type of program. Adoptees would be charged with a list of maintenance tasks, from litter removal, to weeding, to painting benches and so on. The city could provide the adoptees with a small budget and the adoptees could have the authority to hold small events such as neighbourhood yard sales as a way to generate further revenue for park upkeep. The parks could be adopted by corporations, groups of interested residents, or neighbourhood associations, but they would have to pledge to do actual work within the parks.

Larger things such as repairing sidewalks, or pruning trees, or fixing lighting would be done by parks department workers, but the adoptees would be charged with identifying these needs and letting their Parks Department liason know that they need to be addressed.

Another controversial proposal would be to allow private landowners to aquire parks out right. The Hotel Providence has a situation with the city where they basically own the park in front of L'Epicureo on Westminster (I don't know the exact arrangement, I don't think ownership is the right word, I think the property actually still belongs to the city). The hotel keeps the space open to the public, but is allowed to enforce loitering guidelines and force people that are being a nuisance to move along (read, homeless people, a whole social debate can be sparked right now, if people what to spark that debate do me a favour and start a new thread on it). And the hotel is allowed to lock the gates at a certain time, I believe that time is 11pm. Being given a modicum of control over the space, the hotel now maintains it, while keeping it open to the public.

I would only do this in a limited fashion, but it does get results, if you haven't been by that park in a year or so, go check it out, you'll be amazed.

Another private park option that is heavily used in New York, is allow developers to have variances in return for providing public access to their private indoor or outdoor spaces. So a building may get an extra 50 feet of height in exchange for a courtyard that the public is allowed to have access to. Some of the most frequented and best maintained public spaces in New York, are actually on private property. There has been some post Sept. 11th wrangling over some of these spaces as private property owners are pleading that security concenrs trump public access, but none-the-less, these private-public spaces are something Providence should pursue.

One more parkish related thing I'd like the city to tackle is the security zone around the federal buidlings in Kennedy Plaza. RIs congressional delegation has got to get us some federal money to ake permanent security barriers, those Jersey Barriers are not cutting it. We need some bollards, and well placed landscaping, and fencing there. And for the love of maude, stop letting federal workers park behind the security perimiter! Not to give anyone any ideas but just because a car belongs to a federal worker doesn't mean it's security hasn't been compromised. That whole area around the federal buildings makes me feel nervous because the security measures appear to be so temporary, and frankly, lax. And the whole thing completely mars all the work that was just completed to improve Kennedy Plaza (why the feds didn't put barriers in then, I don't know, the Kennedy Plaza work was done post Oklahoma City).

EDIT: One last thing about parks. I have seen more parks workers in Garibaldi Park on Federal Hill this summer than last. But wait, how many did I see last summer, oh that's right, none. I'm sure they were there last year, but I'm seeing them weekly now. The park up by Rialto Furniture on Atwells on the other hand... Well let's just say a rusted car on cinder blocks would improve it at this point.

If my memory serves me, Dyer Street will go away with the completion of th I 195 relocation.

Good.

And, yes the old public safety gets demolished.

That's what I thought, not quite sure how I feel about that yet. All I know is what replaces it better not be a dog.

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