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Downcity Business Improvement District Created

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Council creates new improvement district

Property owners in the new district will pay a surcharge that will be used for increased policing as well as for cleaning and promoting downtown.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer | August 25, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- And now, by popular demand, it's time for an extra tax for downtown.

Some would insist that there never is popular demand for extra taxes. As City Council Majority Leader Luis A. Aponte remarked recently, seldom does anyone volunteer to impose an extra tax on himself.

But downtown business interests and residents, interested in seeing an extra effort made to police, clean and promote downtown, are doing just that.

They petitioned the city to create a business improvement district, and to impose a surtax on real estate within the district in order to pay for the extras.

Property owners representing about 85 percent of the assessed real estate value in the district have signed petitions.

The City Council approved the district for an 83-block area and Mayor David N. Cicilline signed it into law last week.

An autonomous management authority would be responsible for running the affairs of the district.

Among other tasks, the authority would deploy security officers known as ambassadors, who would help visitors and deter troublemakers; would hire a maintenance company to clean grime and clear snow and ice from the sidewalks and scrub graffiti off buildings and lampposts; would install landscaping and signs; and would market the district to retailers, shoppers and people interested in the district's theaters and galleries.

"The fact that they are so willing to take responsibility is a big benefit" to the city, said Councilwoman Rita M. Williams, D-Ward 2.

Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation, said yesterday that experts on business improvement districts around the nation find the 85 percent level of support "staggering."

Usually, support for a new business improvement district does not build to that level until after a trial period and people realize how beneficial such a district can be, Baudouin said.

There have been years of work in Providence in laying the foundation for the idea and familiarizing the business and higher education communities, whose members own a majority of the affected real estate, with the concept.

The Providence Foundation, whose mission is the betterment of Providence, and especially its downtown, has been the forum for that process.

There was consternation among some business people over this year's changes in the city's general tax classification system, which shifted some of the tax burden to business property.

Nevertheless, Baudouin said, there is no evidence of slippage in the support for the downtown improvement district. Belated petitions continue to arrive at the foundation office.

Baudouin rejects the use of the word "tax," and considers the prospective district payment analagous to a maintenance fee that tenants in a shopping mall or office park shoulder for their common good.

"People are always concerned about their taxes and their costs," Baudouin said.

Downtown property owners realize, however, that the city provides a basic level of public service and if they want the extras that are needed to make downtown more competitive with commercial and arts districts elsewhere, they will have to pay for them, he said.

The "fee," as Baudouin calls it, will be established as part of a public process of adopting a budget for the district. Advocates for the district estimate that it will range from 3.75 percent to 4 percent of the annual municipal real estate tax bill for each parcel.

There would be two zones: Property owners in the inner zone would have maintenance services seven days a week and pay a slightly higher surtax than property owners in the outer zone, who would have services five days a week.

The inner zone, which includes the area commonly known as Downcity, has a higher need for maintenance, security and retail development than the outer zone, according to the ordinance that authorizes the district's creation.

One-third of the district's projected annual budget of $1.1 million to $1.2 million would be covered by contributions from tax-exempt entities such as colleges and universities and by grants.

The next step in creating the district, which is expected to begin operations in the first quarter of 2005, is the appointment of a nine-member board of directors to manage the district. There would also be eight non-voting directors.

The foundation would appoint seven of the nine voting members and the mayor, two. At least five voting directors must own property in the district and one must reside in the district.

A requirement that at least one director be a resident was requested by Councilman John J. Igliozzi, D-Ward 7, who declared that he wants "no taxation without representation."

Igliozzi had other concerns about the district, including city liability, but he likes the concept.

Although the new ordinance states that the district is an "agency of the municipality," it also states that any borrowing by the district would not constitute a pledge of the city government's credit.

"I'm satisfied enough. We'll see how it goes," the councilman said. "If it needs to be tweaked, we will do it."

The mayor and council have adopted two ordinances, one of which allows the creation of a business improvement district anywhere in Providence if real estate owners petition for it, and one which allows the creation of the downtown district.

During the ordinance adoption process, city officials worked out with district advocates a tentative tax collection program. Using city assessments, the district will "by and large" be responsible for billing and collecting the surtax, according to Baudouin.

If there are delinquent taxpayers, the city's collection power would be used.

Baudouin calls the district a pilot program, because it has a sunset clause. After three years, the real estate owners would have to petition city government in order to keep the district alive.

From The Providence Journal

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Renaissance renewed

Monday, October 4, 2004

It took a long time, but downtown Providence now has its business-improvement district.

The Providence Foundation pressed the local business and political establishment unstintingly for a downtown group that would pick up where city services left off. After long resisting, property owner Joseph Paolino Sr. gave the idea his support; that probably put it over the edge in the Rhode Island General Assembly, whose okay was required. Kudos to all.

Now that the district has been created by Mayor Cicilline and the City Council, let us make sure that it succeeds. A board of nine members, once it is assembled, must forge the district's relationship with the city, and with the agencies whose services it will augment. The board should keep a number of first principles in mind as it considers how to achieve the cleanliness, safety and marketing goals of the district:

-- The district's administrator and board should make sure that its operation focuses on providing services, rather than on studying the need for services, most of which are, in their absence, visible to the naked eye.

The district should not be a think tank but a service provider!

-- The services should augment those provided by the city, not duplicate those for which businesses already pay property and other municipal taxes. The management fee will be irksome enough to pay; it is paramount that those who pay it be confident that it will bring them things they do not already have.

-- The district should hire companies able to take advantage of the private sector's managerial flexibility and operational efficiency. The district can provide additional services worthy of a management fee only by applying the advantages of the private sector.

After being ahead of the revitalization curve at the beginning of the 1990s, downtown Providence fell behind the curve as many American cities worked more effectively to bring life back to their civic centers -- including many cities that used business-improvement districts as a primary tool. Combined with the many building projects recently completed, under way and planned for the future, the business improvement district should help push Providence back to the head of the renaissance class.

From The Providence Journal

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Clean, safe downtown is object of new authority

The Downtown Providence District Management Authority charges a fee to businesses to pay to keep the area clean and hire safety guides to act as ambassadors.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer | November 29, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Clean and safe. That's how they want it in the brand new business improvement district downtown.

To make sure that it gets that way and stays that way, an authority created to manage the district is preparing to hire maintenance and security companies.

Security guards, called safety guides, who will double as public concierges, will patrol the district on foot and bicycle. And cleaning crews will keep the buildings and public spaces free of graffiti and the sidewalks spic and span.

While the authority some day might install public art, trees and even provide parking, there will be nothing fancy about its start-up phase, said Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation, who will generally preside over the district's daily functions.

Clean and safe are the watchwords for now.

Looking to boost the older part of downtown, the corporations, real estate investors and higher education and health care institutions that make up the Providence Foundation have launched the district to supplement municipal services.

Their aim is to dispel the perception that downtown is somewhat grubby and occasionally somewhat threatening.

With the cooperation of city and state government, they christened the Downtown Providence District Management Authority.

To pay for the operations of the district, real estate owners within its bounds, including tax-exempt institutions, have agreed to shoulder a maintenance fee that some people call a surtax. Counting on anticipated fee income and grants from the Rhode Island Foundation, the authority proposes to spend $1.19 million a year.

A public hearing on the budget to take effect Jan. 1 is scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow in the first-floor auditorium of the Commerce Center, 30 Exchange Terrace. With only six months remaining in the fiscal year, the budget shows expenditures of $597,000, or half the anticipated $1.19 million.

To support that budget, according to Baudouin, the authority would charge a fee ranging from 3.5 percent to 4 percent of the annual municipal tax bill for each real estate parcel. That is $0.00147 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the district's inner zone and $0.00121 in the district's outer zone.

The inner zone would be cleaned seven days a week and the outer zone, five days, and real estate owners would be charged accordingly.

The boundaries, generally speaking, are Memorial Boulevard on the north, the Providence River on the east, Route 195 on the south, and Route 95 and Franklin Street on the west. That takes in Downcity and some of the Financial and Jewelry districts.

Urban Place Consulting Group, a small California firm with experience in launching and managing business improvement districts, has been hired to help in Providence. Urban Place drew up the requests for proposals from the maintenance and security companies.

If the district succeeds, it means more retailers and service businesses will have filled its empty storefronts, commuters will be lingering after work and many more visitors and shoppers will be strolling through.

"We have no doubt that this will be an absolute success," said Maria Ruggieri, a self-employed businesswoman who lives in the Smith Building in Downcity.

Ruggieri is a member of the board of directors of the district authority and president of the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance, which promotes the development of Downcity as a place to live.

She said last week that the existence of an authority board composed of high achievers who hold brisk meetings and get things done is proof that the district plans will pay off.

"I wouldn't be putting my time in if I didn't think this was really cool," said Ruggieri, who predicted the district also will stimulate the redevelopment of Downcity for residential purposes.

A force of eight safety guides and a cleaning crew of nine, plus three administrators and a marketing coordinator, have been budgeted.

One administrator would be director of public space, in charge of cleanliness and public safety, and would be "the person on the street who is really the face of the business improvement district, meeting with property owners," Baudouin said.

The other would be an administrator-bookkeeper in charge of finances.

Soon, the authority will have office space in the Gardner Building, 40 Fountain St., furnished and donated by Joseph DiBattista, a real estate investor who serves as a director of the district authority and whose partnership owns the building.

The uniformed safety guides would serve as extra pairs of eyes and ears for the police as well as goodwill ambassadors who would answer visitors' questions and give directions.

Among their sensitive tasks, according to a solicitation sent to security companies who would provide the safety guides, would be coping with panhandling, drug dealing, public intoxication and illegal peddlers. They would be expected to investigate small-scale misdemeanors and work with social-service agencies.

Safety guides also may be made available to escort people back and forth from their places of work to parking lots and garages.

They would not be armed or have police powers but they would be trained in customer service, crisis management, victim assistance and self-defense, certified in first aid and CPR, and, if possible, be able to speak Spanish.

Each safety guide would be subject to approval by the district, which wants the winning contractor to commit to hiring Providence residents.

Their equipment would include wireless communications devices, flashlights and first-aid kits.

Baudouin said their working hours generally would be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and they would concentrate on monitoring the streets used by commuters and visitors such as theater- and event-goers.

The cleaning crews would stay away from the streets, where the city remains responsible for sweeping and snow- and ice-clearing. But they would pick up trash from the gutter, Baudouin said.

The city sweeps the downtown streets daily, so the authority does not have to worry about that.

"It's one of the good things the city does," Baudouin said.

From The Providence Journal

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Plastic trash bins nothing but rubbish

Decorative sidewalk garbage bins have replaced many of the ragged plastic ones.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer | November 30, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- As part of a downtown improvement campaign, 24 jet-black Victorian-style trash receptacles are showing up on the sidewalks.

They are partially replacing the familiar graffiti-covered brown plastic trash cans whose battered appearance belies the neat image that civic leaders want to present.

And their introduction confirms the demise of the highly touted adopt-a-can program of the 1990s in which the former group Keep Providence Beautiful enlisted businesses to take responsibility for garbage cans outside their offices and storefronts.

The new trash bins are part of a slowly evolving campaign by private interests, with help from the city, to make downtown cleaner and safer and a more congenial place to work, visit, shop and live.

A major part of that campaign is the formation of a Downtown Providence District Management Authority, which intends to sponsor maintenance crews and safety patrols in an 83-block area to supplement municipal services.

The Downtown Merchants Association and Groundwork Providence acquired the cans and are installing them in a $25,000 project bankrolled by the city, which tapped federal aid.

All but four of the receptacles have been installed in recent weeks, mostly in Downcity but also in the Financial District, according to Sally Turner, executive director of Groundwork Providence.

Turner's nonprofit environmental group has succeeded Keep Providence Beautiful.

KPB had high hopes for the adopt-a-can program, which proved to be a disappointment. The concept was that a business would adopt a trash can and make sure it was emptied regularly and kept clean.

But businesses come and go, and many of the cans were orphaned, according to Turner. Even during the adopt-a-can program, she said, the city Department of Public Works continued to be responsible for emptying most of the sidewalk cans downtown.

Josh Miller, owner of Trinity Brew House on Fountain Street and president of the Downtown Merchants Association, became exasperated with the adopt-a-can program.

He recalled that Trinity Brew House's adopted can routinely was left brimming with trash tossed in by patrons of Dunkin' Donuts and the McDonald's restaurant once located on Fountain Street. He tired of taking responsibility for trash generated by other businesses.

"We were emptying this massive can filled with McDonald's [trash]," Miller said.

The merchants association asked the city to help.

"We were aware that the adopt-a-can wasn't perfect as a solution," Miller said yesterday. So his group persuaded the city to appropriate money and joined with Groundwork Providence to administer the project.

The city will empty the new receptacles.

The older plastic trash cans -- their scratched-up sides plastered with now-incongruous labels proclaiming "Keep Downtown Clean and Beautiful" -- have hinged lids that lift easily. The tippies, as they are called, are checked occasionally by people who troll downtown looking in garbage cans and Dumpsters for useful discards.

The new trash receptacles, made of lightweight metal, have a domed lid and smaller openings that make it less likely that rain will seep in. They are nestled in decorative holders that are bolted to the sidewalk, and the lids are wired to the barrels.

While Miller said the wiring is intended to ensure that the lids are not separated from the barrels, the configuration of the new receptacles also appears to make them less susceptible to "Dumpster divers" than the plastic models.

The smaller openings -- the receptacles also have less capacity than the plastic models -- make it difficult to jam in large items. A new can at Washington and Mathewson streets yesterday showed that someone had dropped two bags of garbage next to it that apparently would not fit through the opening.

With the 24 new receptacles replacing old cans, the approximate total of 45 sidewalk garbage cans downtown won't change, according to Turner.

South Side boosters want garbage cans for Broad Street, so Groundwork Providence intends to refurbish surplus cans that can be fixed and move them there.

From The Providence Journal

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Security concerns raised in new district

Some say they want retired police officers or rookies rather than security guards to provide a law-enforcement presence in the newly crafted downtown business district.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer | December 1, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Should a planned downtown safety patrol be police-oriented or public relations-oriented?

Potentially conflicting visions for the safety patrol are proving to be a sticking point in the early days of the Downtown Providence District Management Authority.

At an authority meeting yesterday, real-estate investors Joseph R. Paolino Jr. and Joseph R. Paolino Sr. insisted that retired or novice police officers be hired for the safety patrol jobs.

"I don't want the illusion of security. I want the reality of security," the junior Paolino said. A trained police officer, he said, would be more likely to act against a wrongdoer than a security guard.

But according to the authority's preliminary arrangements, the safety guides, as they would be called, would be expected mostly to maintain a uniformed presence on the streets that would deter crime and aid residents and visitors.

They would function as public concierges, giving directions and tips on a nice place to have dinner.

On the other hand, they also would be trained to give first aid and CPR and they would gather information on petty crimes to turn over to the police. They would be unarmed and have no power to make arrests or use force.

Civic leaders have created a business improvement district in the older part of downtown in order to invigorate the area as an appealing place to work, shop and live. The district encompasses Downcity and parts of the Financial and Jewelry districts.

To manage the business improvement district, an authority with a board of directors was created with a large measure of autonomy from municipal government. The authority's self-assigned tasks include making the area clean and safe.

A public hearing on the authority's proposed half-year budget of $597,000 was held yesterday at Commerce Center, where the Providence Foundation has its offices. The authority will assess a fee on all real estate in the district to help pay for operations.

But the discussion dwelled mostly on other topics such as the eight safety guides that a contractor would provide.

Raising his voice, the younger Paolino said authority leaders have strayed from the original premise of the safety guides by not emphasizing their security function.

"You're all changing your tune," he barked, and he hinted that if they persist, the Paolinos might withhold their cooperation from the authority. The Paolinos are major downtown property owners.

The elder Paolino chimed in, "If you don't have professional law enforcement, then you're going to have Mickey Mouse . . . "

Daniel A. Baudouin, Providence Foundation executive director, sought to calm the troubled waters.

"If it can work, yes, then that's what we're going to do," said Baudouin, who has been managing the authority's affairs.

Left unmentioned was the issue of liability if the safety guides get more involved in law enforcement.

The Paolino concept is this: Hire retired officers or rookies who have graduated from a police academy but have not yet landed a fulltime police position. Depending on their age and experience they would have the instincts and the savvy, or at least the training and the seriousness of purpose, to do a better job than a security guard.

Police Lt. Timothy Lee, downtown police commander, said officers are retiring as young as 41 these days and they have plenty of employment opportunities at Green Airport, at universities and elsewhere. That raises a question, he said, of whether they would be interested in the safety guide jobs.

Apparently concerned about their salary expectations, Christopher Placco of Johnson & Wales University emphasized that the authority wants to hire a security company at a competitive price to provide the safety guides.

Lee and Placco are both authority directors.

The time of day actually dictates what is needed from a safety patrol, Joshua Miller said later. Miller, president of the Downtown Merchants Association and an authority director, said a goodwill ambassador is called for during the day, and after dark, a skilled security person.

The safety guides' hours of work also are a potential bone of contention. Baudouin had said the guides probably would work from about 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., when they would be most visible to the public.

But property owner Stanley Weiss, another authority director, said it would be important to have some on the graveyard shift, when graffiti taggers do their damage.

Baudouin and consultant Steve Gibson said the district is a work in progress.

Baudouin urged the senior Paolino, an authority director, to participate in continued discussions over the safety guides.

Regarding the authority's cleaning responsibilities, Baudouin announced that the Champlin Foundation has granted the Providence Foundation $150,000 to acquire equipment for the district.

Gibson said cleaning crews would maintain the sidewalks, gutters and other public places with pushbrooms and mechanical equipment.

That would include a machine that would vacuum litter and grit with a large hose, and power washers to remove graffiti and to keep the sidewalks clean.

"Safety isn't all about security guards," Miller said recently. He said it is the absence of foul odors, graffiti and loiterers that makes visitors feel more secure, so lighting and cleaning are elements of safety.

The district was created to supplement municipal services, not to replace them. To make clear the division of labor, the authority is negotiating a working agreement with the city.

"Maybe we can get the city to do more if we partner with them on some things," Baudouin said.

From The Providence Journal

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A cleaner, and safer downtown envisioned

Downtown Improvement District is expected to start sidewalk cleaning and safety patrols on Saturday.

BY GREGORY SMITH Journal Staff Writer | February 22, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- In the coming months and years, if downtown seems cleaner and safer, people will be able to say, "The DID did it."

That is DID, as in Downtown Improvement District.

Civic leaders, when they put together an organization to make the older sections of downtown clean and safe, saddled themselves with an awkward formal name: Downtown Providence District Management Authority.

To make their enterprise easier for the public to grasp, they have devised a shorthand title and an abbreviation.

The improvement district, or DID, was created to deploy a safety patrol and to sweep and scrub the sidewalks and some public spaces. It is a public agency, yet semi-autonomous.

"That name [Downtown Improvement District] seemed to make a lot of sense about what that group does and where it does it," said Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation, which was instrumental in founding the district.

The district encompasses Downcity and parts of the Financial and Jewelry districts.

In preparing to start the services, which will begin on Saturday, district leaders have taken a series of steps in recent months:

They hired Urban Place Consulting, of Long Beach, Calif., a firm that advises improvement districts, to operate the district for at least the first six months.

They hired Block by Block, a Louisville, Ky., company that provides cleaning services and safety patrols to improvement districts.

For the first time, they billed real estate owners in the district. Owners are responsible for the annual fee, billed in quarterly installments, as they are for the city property tax.

In the core of the district, where seven-days-a-week cleaning will occur, the fee for each parcel is 4.3 percent of the city property tax bill. In the outer ring, where cleaning will be done five days a week, the fee is 3.5 percent. Because the district was launched midway through a fiscal year, the fees will cover a half year's worth of expenditures, or $597,000.

The owners of most of the tax-exempt property, including health institutions and universities, are contributing voluntarily.

They adopted a logo based on a stylized, multicolored reproduction of the Downcity street grid and a color scheme of golden yellow with black trim to make their uniformed workers stand out. The workers' shirts and parkas will be labeled in big letters, Safety Team and Clean Team, and the logo will be visible on the front and back.

Block by Block beat out 11 companies for what was originally envisioned as two contracts to make downtown clean and safe. The management authority that oversees the district concluded that it could save about $80,000 a year if it used one vendor.

Block by Block is a division of a Louisville company called Brantley Services, which manages events and provides security and cleaning services.

Block by Block handles security and cleaning for improvement districts in Louisville; Cincinnati; Nashville, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; Des Moines, Iowa; Newark, N.J.; and Pasadena, Calif.

Training of Block by Block's rank-and-file employees is scheduled for tomorrow through Friday, "and then they're going to hit the street," Baudouin said yesterday. Although they don't have all their equipment yet, he said Saturday will be "an informal rollout day for most of their forces."

There will be 18 people to do the cleaning and safety jobs, including an operations manager acting as an on-the-street supervisor for Block by Block. There was an outpouring of candidates to choose from, including 92 for operations manager alone, according to Jeremy Curran, vice president of Block by Block's parent company.

Local residents were given preference, and the Police Department referred four candidates, he said.

"We're looking for good people. We're expecting a lot" in terms of personality, dedication and flexibility, among other traits, Curran said.

They will do most of their work in the daytime, he said, because the district wants it to be seen. The district is supplementing, not substituting for, the work of the city, which remains dutybound to clean the streets and maintain public safety.

The district and the city are still ironing out a formal agreement making clear their respective responsibilities regarding specific tasks and precisely where they would be done.

The district would pay Block by Block $750,000 to $800,000 for one year, depending on the amount of services that are purchased.

Discussion of exactly what services the district will offer, such as snow shoveling, is continuing. For the time being, according to Curran, the DID will shovel sidewalk curb cuts for the handicapped, shovel openings in curbside snowbanks for pedestrians and clear sidewalks at intersections.

By city law, private property owners must clear the snow from the sidewalks and fire hydrants around their property. But some don't. The existence of the DID, some people say, is likely to increase pressure on the noncompliant.

If certain owners ignore friendly reminders and are unfazed by ordinance violation tickets, the DID management authority and property owners who have taken an interest have talked about clearing sidewalks and billing owners for it.

It has been suggested that perhaps the DID could offer snow removal as a contracted service to property owners in addition to the basic clean-and-safe services.

Urban Place Consulting has a contract costing about $95,000 for six months, and it provides four people to oversee the district. Those people include an office manager and Frank LaTorre, the person in charge on a daily basis, who will be the director of public space.

LaTorre has 20 years' experience in managing public facilities, such as arenas and athletic fields, mostly in Portland, Maine. He is being assisted by Rena Masten, who has operated improvement districts in Stamford, Conn., and Portland.

The majority of real estate owners in the district signed petitions in favor of the district's creation, in effect agreeing to pay for it. Steve Gibson of Urban Place Consulting said it is the highest proportion of owner support that he has seen for any fledgling improvement district in the nation.

"It's quite a feat," he said.

And Baudouin sees no slackening in their enthusiasm.

"So many people have contributed to this effort," Baudouin said. "It's really heartening to see that kind of interest in the future of the city and downtown."

Among the organizations and people who have donated to the cause are lawyer John Boehnert, who has done work at no charge; Johnson & Wales University, which has catered district functions for free; and the owners of the Gardner Building at 40 Fountain St., who are providing a furnished office, rent-free, as district headquarters.

The board of directors of the management authority includes chairman Evan Granoff, a real estate investor; vice chairman Robert Gagliardi, a representative of Gilbane Properties; secretary Richard Lappin, a partner in the group that owns the Regency Plaza apartment complex; treasurer Stanley Weiss, a real estate investor and hotelier; Joseph R. Paolino Sr., a real estate investor; Arnold B. "Buff" Chace, a developer; Judith Cullen, co-owner of the Providence Biltmore Hotel; Christopher Placco, a representative of Johnson & Wales; and Maria Ruggieri, a jewelry designer and president of the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance.

Cullen and Gagliardi were appointed by Mayor David N. Cicilline and the rest were selected by the Providence Foundation.

From The Providence Journal

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It would be nice if they could remove graffiti also.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think they will. Times Square in NYC has a Business Improvement District, and it is a large part of that area's turn around. You see the BID people everywhere in Times Square. They have sanitation people in green uniforms, and security people in cop-like uniforms.

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Glad to see that the BID is working well, so far.

My hometown, Jacksonville, created a BID a couple of years ago. While it's not some kind of miraculous cure-all, it certainly serves as an efficient and useful promotional/organizational tool.

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I saw a couple of members of the Safety Team in Kennedy Plaza yesterday afternoon. They have nice yellow jackets with a colourful stylized map of Downcity on the back. It's nice to see them out there.

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I have seen them Downcity on several occasions now and I must admit that they do give off the effect of safety. I never felt threatened downtown, but even I feel better seeing them there. This investment looks like it will go a long way toward the transformation of downtown to a residential/commercial hub. It appears Downcity folks understand that perception is key. I think they're winning this one. I've heard a few people comment about them and make the point of saying that they are glad to see them there.

Now, let's get rid of all the graffiti!

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ProJo editorial about the "DID."

Already, downtown is cleaner and safer for their efforts, and soon they will begin a major campaign against graffiti. The police expect vandals to take up this challenge by returning to apply more "art," and thus expose themselves to arrest. Good! Then throw the book at 'em.

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Today was the first time in awhile I did not notice a yellow jacket. Must of had the day off.

also

" and soon they will begin a major campaign against graffiti. "

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You know again today I did not see one yellow jacket..I wonder whats going on?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

They're at the beach. :lol:

I saw sanitation crews in Waterplace Park this morning. They were emptying trash and picking up litter, no progress on the graffiti though. :(

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Cotuit, you agree that soon that article wont apply to us.. right :):wub:  i hope sooo

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I hope so, but other areas need BIDs too, especially Federal Hill, it's a pit.

I like the New York law making abutters responsible for their sidewalks, and having lived in New York I can tell you how effective that is. That's something that can quickly and easily be implemented city-wide without creating special improvement districts.

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You know again today I did not see one yellow jacket..I wonder whats going on?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Maybe some of the lotsofnoise folks ran them out of town. :lol:

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It would be nice if they could remove graffiti also.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm also totally fed up with all the graffiti. It's atrocious around Point St. Some moron named JUMBO RESTO or something like that keeps leaving his fat ugly tag all over the city.

My solution: catch the graffitist and then it's paint ball firing squad. :lol:

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My solution: catch the graffitist and then it's paint ball firing squad.  :lol:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm sure Chief Esserman would support that proposal. ;)

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Anyone notice all the new toys DID has been given to work with?

They now have two interesting small tractor like sidewalk air street sweepers. Also I have noticed a johndeere gator ( http://johndeere.com/en_US/ProductCatalog/...act_series.html ) and new bikes for the safety team.

Friday I stood outside of a restaurant downtown waiting for a co-worker and noticed endlessly the DID team at work.

Additionally last week a large street light fell and smashed all over the street but instead of glass and metal sitting street side for weeks the DID team had it cleaned up before the hours end.

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Their bikes are PPD hand-me-downs. I saw two of them on bikes in Waterplace Park on Friday afternoon, so maybe that is part of their beat, at least as far as being Downcity ambassadors goes. One of them was explaining WaterFire to some tourists.

I've been seeing them all over Downcity the last week or so. I've also seen them on golf carts.

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I noticed today the clean team has been given a brand new Ford 150 ( yellow ) pickup truck. They seem to be getting the tools needed for the job. The team was cleaning up one of the downtown parks this afternoon.

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