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Garris

Wayland Square UP members...

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Urban Planet Providence members living in or near Wayland Square, this thread is for us and all those who want to help us. This is the rallying cry...

Planning by various members of the Wayland Square Residents Association is about start for the formal neighborhood planning charrettes to give our recommendations to the city for the master plan. This will start with an informal meeting by some neighborhood members to discuss some of the retail and neighborhood issues of the square on:

Date: July 17th

Time: 7:15 pm

Where: Books on the Square

If you live in this area and want to see anything other than an NIMBY agenda put forward to the city, it's time to make your voice heard! There are people in this neighborhood who are involved who would love to rid the Square of such recent amenities as Haruki, Red Stripe, Chicos, and Starbucks and will fight any suggested increase in density or any maintenance or expansion of retail activity. They'd love to turn Wayland Square into a nice quiet isolated little suburb, like Barrington North.

If you want any urbanity to the Square, you need to start joining me at some of these meetings. I make my points quite forcefully (and probably frustrate the sh** out of everyone there), but I'm a lone voice.

Help me UP members! We keep talking about ways to make Providence a better urban environment, and the upcoming planning charrettes by the city will determine how true that becomes for the next half century. If we're ever going to make an impact, this is it. Trust me, the NIMBY groups all are gearing up for this planning sessions in ways that'll frighten people here.

Time to get out and make a difference for Providence planning! Join me!

- Garris

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I would love to be there (I'm a fellow Wayland Squarer) but as usual I'm gone doing charrettes elsewhere (this time in Baton Rouge).

However, I would be glad to help another time (I've done a ton of charrettes - see www.bdennis.com). We can as a neighborhood provide exactly what we want to see there and reduce the blood pressure of the nimby's as well.

It really is about DRAWING what people suggest (especially in perspective, from ground level), getting them to agree that is what they want, and then coding it so it is legal and encouraged.

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Urban Planet Providence members living in or near Wayland Square, this thread is for us and all those who want to help us. This is the rallying cry...

Planning by various members of the Wayland Square Residents Association is about start for the formal neighborhood planning charrettes to give our recommendations to the city for the master plan. This will start with an informal meeting by some neighborhood members to discuss some of the retail and neighborhood issues of the square on:

Date: July 17th

Time: 7:15 pm

Where: Books on the Square

If you live in this area and want to see anything other than an NIMBY agenda put forward to the city, it's time to make your voice heard! There are people in this neighborhood who are involved who would love to rid the Square of such recent amenities as Haruki, Red Stripe, Chicos, and Starbucks and will fight any suggested increase in density or any maintenance or expansion of retail activity. They'd love to turn Wayland Square into a nice quiet isolated little suburb, like Barrington North.

If you want any urbanity to the Square, you need to start joining me at some of these meetings. I make my points quite forcefully (and probably frustrate the sh** out of everyone there), but I'm a lone voice.

Help me UP members! We keep talking about ways to make Providence a better urban environment, and the upcoming planning charrettes by the city will determine how true that becomes for the next half century. If we're ever going to make an impact, this is it. Trust me, the NIMBY groups all are gearing up for this planning sessions in ways that'll frighten people here.

Time to get out and make a difference for Providence planning! Join me!

- Garris

Who are these people who want to do that? My husband and I did go to a Wayland Square citizens association meeting a couple weeks ago, and no one of that group seemed to express such an agenda. (Were you there?) I will say that we were trying to meet at Starbucks outside, and it was almost impossible to carry on a discussion because the motorcycles revving up the street were so obnoxiously loud and intrusive. I think most people at the meeting recognized that we had better be able to say what we would like, rather than simply complain about what we don't want; there also was agreement about the need to participate in the fall meetings because those are the ones that will influence the comprehensive plan, which is due BEFORE the so-called neighborhood charettes.

At any rate, we certainly want to support urbanity in Wayland Square, so if you have more information about the agenda for the 17th, please pass it along.

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I would love to be there (I'm a fellow Wayland Squarer) but as usual I'm gone doing charrettes elsewhere (this time in Baton Rouge).

However, I would be glad to help another time (I've done a ton of charrettes - see www.bdennis.com). We can as a neighborhood provide exactly what we want to see there and reduce the blood pressure of the nimby's as well.

It really is about DRAWING what people suggest (especially in perspective, from ground level), getting them to agree that is what they want, and then coding it so it is legal and encouraged.

Hello! I believe we've actually met before on one or two occasions (you're in the Blackstone Park area near Richmond Sq, correct?) and chatted and I, of course, admire your work and ethic. Looking at your website, it was interesting to read you were involved in Pawling, NY, considering I grew up about 10-15 minutes from there and remember when their "downtown" was being reimagined.

Any help and insight you could provide as to a suggested planning process would be welcome. Also, any resources (books, case reports, etc) you could suggest to me and the group as interested but untrained citizens to assist us in usefully contributing would be appreciated!

Who are these people who want to do that? My husband and I did go to a Wayland Square citizens association meeting a couple weeks ago, and no one of that group seemed to express such an agenda. (Were you there?)... I think most people at the meeting recognized that we had better be able to say what we would like, rather than simply complain about what we don't want...

At any rate, we certainly want to support urbanity in Wayland Square, so if you have more information about the agenda for the 17th, please pass it along.

I was actually not able to attend that particular meeting (which, with about 10 people showing I understand, would have made it the biggest I'm aware of). Normally, the meetings I've attended on and off over the last 2 years (and more intensely over the last several months) tend to focus on what people wish to oppose more than anything else. If the focus really was on what people want more than what they don't want at that meeting, then that was truly progress.

In general at the meetings I've attended, there is generally a passive to mildly active anti-density, anti-renter, anti-height, and anti-retail expansion tone. It's somewhat funny that the group's meeting was at Starbucks, since my understanding of the group was that it was originally formed in the 90's to oppose that project.

There's also been some talk of late of increased cooperation and work with the CHNA and Fox Point groups, which I very much oppose given some of their visible anti-urban bents. Some people are unhappy with the growth of "destination" dining options and the growth of condo conversions.

Especially with some likely big issues in the future (the United Way building, for example), some forward thinking ideas would be nice.

I'll throw some ideas out there off the top of my head. What would I like to see in my little fantasy world?

Summary: To try to convert the Square's disparate commerical frontages, signages, and uses to a more consistent sidewalk fronted approach as currently exists in its core. Also, to increase its retail offerings, hours of activity, and community vitality, with improved walkability focusing on increased linkage to surrounding areas and to nearby parks and recreation options. Improved mass transit access and convenience with future consideration of integration into light rail options as well. Residential mix should remain consistent with focus on increasing density in the core and relaxing zoning to include brownstones, townhouses, and unique rental options.

In detail:

Retail/Commercial:

- All future expansions or new retail construction should be sidewalk fronted with off-street parking and some type of incentive offered for businesses with strip plaza style parking to expand/relocate to the sidewalk.

- Maximum height for future retail should be 4 floors.

- Retail should be allowed and encouraged to remain open later in the evening until a maximum of 11 PM, appropriate for a residential area. Too many of the area's businesses as it is close at 5 PM or before, leading to a rather dead area when most people return from work...

- The movement of the Square in diversifying retail options beyond neighborhood services to include destination restaurants (ex, Red Stripe) and entertainment (ex galleries and bookstores) should continue to be encouraged.

- Better "gateway" signage to indicate one is approaching and in the Wayland Square area is needed.

- Similarly, better guidance to the Square's two designated parking areas (which need better upkeep) is needed.

- More contiguous and consistent retail/commerical structures could be encouraged/considered in the future East of the Square down South Angell, South of the Square down Wayland, and East of the Square down Waterman in areas of current such actvity, which is currently a non-coherent and discouraging mix of different styles, frontages, and purposes. The consideration of architecture, signage, and appearance standards could be brought up...

- With the possible vacancy of the United Way building in the future, that site's potential as a major center for the Square and its potential to set the tone for architecture, public space, and commercial usage in the area should not be squandered.

- A potential desired "Plan B" should be considered in case Whole Foods does in the future decide to leave their current space, which they have considered in the past.

- A draft for how to better integrate Richmond Square into the retail and commercial overlay of Wayland Square should be discussed. The development of Richmond into an isolated residential enclave should be discouraged.

Community:

- Efforts should be made to create a more obvious, attractive, public, and vibrant community space in the Square at the intersections of Angell, S. Angell, and Wayland Aves (I don't know if this area is publically or privately owned).

- Signage directing people to the four Providence public parks and green spaces within 2-4 blocks walking distance of the Square's center should be added (most people don't even know they are there now...)

- Better overall signage directing pedestrians where they are and what is available in the area should be present, perhaps in the above center community space.

- Strict noise ordinances for both businesses and vehicles should be in place given the neighborhood's residential character.

- Ideas should be floated for ways to better integrate the following isolated and more auto oriented areas into Wayland Square proper and make them more pedestrian friendly than they current are:

- The Whole Foods area

- The East Side Market complex

- Richmond Square

- Overall encouragement of walkability of the Square needs to be addressed (benches, signs, sidewalk quality, consistency of design, etc) and linkage to everything from the Blackstone Blvd, to the parks, to the retail area on Elmsgrove, etc needs to be thought through...

- Sidewalk dining options for restaurant establishments should be encouraged, not discouraged.

- Some landscaping to public areas (almost non-existant now) should be developed.

- Expansion in the already good tree canopy coverage in the neighborhood to certain areas that lack it currently.

- Encouragement of the conversion of asphalt parking areas in front of homes/buildings back into lawns, perhaps in exchange for on-street parking rights.

Residential:

- Maximum height of residential development should be four floors.

- Increased density should be encouraged in walkable areas along major streets in close walkable proximity to the Square (Medway, Waterman, S. Angell, Angell, Ives, etc).

- The remainder of the Square should have single family housing encouraged as is currently the situation.

- Zoning should be relaxed to allow brownstone/townhouse development in and around the Square.

- All future non-single family developents should have sidewalk fronted pedestrian entry and exits (to avoid future Eastside Commons type of developments and potential Richmond gated towers).

- Renovation of historic structures to preservation standards should be encouraged.

- Condo conversions should not actively be discouraged as long as they adhere to city standards and historic preservation guidelines.

- Developments maintaining or expanding the Square's rental population should not be discouraged (this population adds great diversity and much vitality to the area and many renters have been living here as long as if not longer than many homeowners).

Transit:

- Future cutbacks in bus routes serving the Square (ex, the 40 line) should be avoided.

- Considerate linking the Square into the Trolley system.

- Potential sidewalk/street redesigns (cutouts, benches, attractive shelters) should be considered for high volume bus stops in the Square (Butler and S. Angell, Waterman and Wayland, Angell and Wayland).

- A stop in Wayland Square should be strongly considered for any future subway tunnel or light rail scheme for the city, with an emphasis on connection to the future E. Providence waterfront.

- A better auto street plan will be necessary for the Richmond Square/Blackstone Park area.

Ok, that's all I can think of now, and I have to go to sleep... Fire away!

- Garris

PS: The meeting on the 17th is not a formal WSRA meeting, which will resume in the Autumn, but is more a planning meeting being set up independently by other members of the group. You can subscribe to the WSRA area of Yahoo groups and follow that for more information.

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There is an informal, 7:15 PM meeting tonight to brainstorm and discuss future Wayland Square planning issues at Books on the Square (their upstairs area) in advance of the charettes, etc coming up later this year.

- Garris

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Wayland Square Interest Group Meeting! (I don't think this is a formal WSNA meeting)

Date: Tonight!

Where: Books on the Square, Wayland Square

Time: 7 PM

Agenda: Discuss the Providence Tomorrow first meeting that recently took place and where the Square should go from here.

- Garris

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Let me know if I can be useful in all of this. Would be cool if you could call the City Council office at 521-7477 in front of future meetings, and I can try to make it over.

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