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PAWTUCKET STATION THREATENED

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i can understand how ED is unamerican. it's basically the government putting its head where it doesn't always belong. in this case, i can understand the need for it, but in many other cases (such as what recently went down in new london, CT), i think it's a bad idea.

i don't see how a train station endangers kids... the tracks aren't going anywhere so kids can still be pushed in... unless kids can go on the platform and fall?

Interesting that you should mention the New London case. That came up tonight. But the person who referred to it contrasted it with the Pawtucket depot situation. In CT you have a city taking private property, and evicting people from their homes, to facilitate private development.

Here no one is getting kicked out of their house, no business is being displaced, and the city would use ED for a public purpose - a train station. So it's kind of a case of ED being abused (as in New London) versus being responsibly used.

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The problem here is that the funding is already allocated for rail development, so it is a question of whether Pawtucket gets a portion of it, or if that money goes somehwere else in the state of the country. It's not like not building this is going to get GWB to send you a check for 35 cents.

Well, no -- I'm not asking for a check from GWB. He sent us one for $600 a few years ago -- it was not enough to buy our vote. :rolleyes:

Basically, I'm just being cranky here -- but to take up the point you're making, if the money has already been allocated for rail, then spending the $100 million (or whatever the real cost would be; probably higher) on this station just means that there's $100 million less to spend somewhere else, e.g., extending service further past Providence, adding more trains, maybe running trains to someplace like Worcester, or whatever else we can dream up.

Various articles at the beginning of this thread say that the last time a passenger train stopped at Pawtucket was either 1959, the late '70s, or some other date -- a long time ago in any case. If there is such a compelling need for this stop, spaced so closely in between Providence and S. Attleboro, then why was it not an issue until what's-his-name-binder decided he wanted to knock it down and do something else with the property?

When I take a train from here (east side), I take the 99 bus downtown, then walk over to the train station and pick it up there. From Pawtucket, you take the same bus, and it's an extra 10 minutes. Seriously, how many people are clamoring to commute from there to Boston but who are not doing it now because of the bus ride they'd have to take? (Probably some, but not many.) Also, the proposal described in the Times article mentions building parking lots -- but if people are going to drive to the station, they can drive an extra 10 minutes to S. Attleboro.

I just don't see the "rational arguments" in favor of adding a stop -- again, for only a few trains a day, and at such huge expense (meanwhile reducing the property tax base) -- so close between the stops we've already got. The non-rational argument is that the station is an attractive building (albeit a derelict one) that might be nice to save. Fair enough. OTOH, that's a matter of taste; one person's "Beaux Arts" is another's "white elephant." (Not mine, I'm just sayin'....)

Urb

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The point is that only Seelbinder's lawyer appeared, noone else from the development team or from CVS. However maybe that changed in the half hour after I left.

nothing changed after you left.. CVS was not there.. not that I could tell at least.

I'm really bummed out.. I think that they knew which way they were going to vote the minute they got to city hall. I went up to speak towards the end but the Riverfront Loft woman told me it was too late and I lost my nerve.. went back to my seat in time to hear the council ask if anyone wanted to say anything else, so I thought to myself "if I don't say anything and this fails I'll never forgive myself".

I jumped up (cutting off the developers lawer in mid sentence in the process) and walked to the podium.. I was going to repeat the letter that I had sent out to the council last nite but it came out all garbled.. I got really nervous which is weird because I'm used to being in front of huge crowds (usually with a band behind me though)? It was really daunting trying to pour your heart out to a council that has had to sit through something you just know they have already made a decision on. But i said my piece (sorta) and sat back down.

Now I'm home and wondering what happens next? I have a bad feeling that Seelbinder is going to chip away at the building regardless.

oh.. and that lawer's name should be Snidley Whiplash.. its almost comical... he's such a villainous fop! :whistling:

Edited by bloodyrocker

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I jumped up (cutting off the developers lawer in mid sentence in the process) and walked to the podium.. I was going to repeat the letter that I had sent out to the council last nite but it came out all garbled.. I got really nervous which is weird because I'm used to being in front of huge crowds (usually with a band behind me though)?

I liked it that you cut that a$$hole off in mid-sentence. One of my favorite moments. Comments didn't seem garbled to me.

BTW, I was sitting nearby wearing one of those blue pinstriped engineer's caps that they were handing out.

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City Council balks at condemning train station ProJo.com]

So are we going to look back at December 6th, 2006 as the day the Pawtucket Renaissance ended? :cry:

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So are we going to look back at December 6th, 2006 as the day the Pawtucket Renaissance ended? :cry:

Yup, looks like the Pawtucket Renaissance has picked up and moved to Worcester:

$2m donation to help renovate Worcester theater [NECN Video]

You see, if CVS were a real corporate citizen they would be giving money to save something like Pawtucket Station, not being complicit in it's destruction.

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City Council balks at condemning train station ProJo.com]

So are we going to look back at December 6th, 2006 as the day the Pawtucket Renaissance ended? :cry:

The demolition of Penn Station in NY was the spark that started the large preservation movement in NYC. Maybe something similar will happen here.

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The counselors who voted not to use ED all claim, of course, that they were all in favor of saving the station but that ED was not the way to do it.

What is their plan to save the station?

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I jumped up (cutting off the developers lawer in mid sentence in the process) and walked to the podium..

That was you? Nice work!! :w00t:

Stereotypical lawyer, that guy was.

Very disappointed how it turned out. But I can't believe that CVS wasn't in attendance. They just didn't speak. :ph34r:

Seriously, I'd be appalled if CVS could be so insensitive on their very doorstep. The turnout was tremendous last night. In all that parade of speakers to the podium, I can only remember 3 who weren't adamantly in favor of saving the station: two of those were ineloquent, short-sighted members of the immediate neighborhood, and the other was Seelbinder's lawyer. And certainly the outreach from the immediate Pawtucket community was strong (and overwhelmingly positive), not only from businesspeople invested in the city of Pawtucket but also from the resident artists on whom the community is staking its renaissance; but I was equally impressed with the array of support from prominent entities around the state, from RISD to GrowSmart to Preserve Rhode Island. Steve Durkee spoke in support of the station. Buff Chace sent a letter.

So the city didn't ED the beotch. Too bad, but I don't think the affair is played out yet. And I don't think either the station or the railway is a lost cause.

Yet.

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What is their plan to save the station?

They claim to believe the developer who says he's interested in having a T stop as part of the redevelopment of the site. The same developer who is apparently numbering all the bricks for future reassembly. :rolleyes:

But as someone said last night the train component is the cabouse rather than the engine of his plan and, as many speakers point out, Pawtucket will probably not be able to get any federal funds for rail there because of the damage done to a historic structure.

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It's incredible that elected officials can be so shortsighted. Perhaps the city councilors of Pawtucket and Central Falls should examine how the expansion of the T in greater Boston sparked economic growth. Look around the Quincy Adams and Braintree T-stops; new office buildings have been built next door where companies employ hundreds of high-paying jobs.

Perhaps they should make a field trip to Brockton; once a forlorn crime-ridden city with an abandoned downtown; until MBTA put a T-stop there. Now, downtown Brockton has renovated their downtown core, and old mercintile buildings, once abandoned, are now loft-style apartments where former Bostonians have moved into and are now spending their large salaries in new businesses nearby.

Sound familiar?

It's been proven time and again that wherever convienient mass-transit infrastructure exists, the economy in the surrounding area takes off. Can't the elected officials of Pawtucket and Central Falls understand this simple concept? It's not too hard; all they have to do is jump on the T and see what's around each T-stop.

Oh, that's right, they can't. They just sealed the doom for a T-stop in Pawtucket and Central Falls. <_<

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I just don't see the "rational arguments" in favor of adding a stop -- again, for only a few trains a day, and at such huge expense (meanwhile reducing the property tax base) -- so close between the stops we've already got. The non-rational argument is that the station is an attractive building (albeit a derelict one) that might be nice to save. Fair enough. OTOH, that's a matter of taste; one person's "Beaux Arts" is another's "white elephant." (Not mine, I'm just sayin'....)

It depends on what your definitions are and what the vision is. If a train stop that is walkable increases the Pawtucket population back to it's 1920's levels, then your arguments are all out of the window, because then the tax base increases proportionately, demand for services increases, etc.

I'm sorry urb, but what you are basically saying here is "I haven't done the research but I'm going to take a strong stance anyway." I haven't done the research myself but believe the studies that have been done about the economic development that surrounds projects like this. I have also argued many times about how cities need to establish their sense of place. Putting up a bland CVS that you can find in 1/3 of the towns in this country serves as a whitewash of Pawtucket's history.

Regardless, I am a little upset at gregw's portrayal of the neighborhood woman as a nutjob. Rather than being a nutjob, let's say that English is probably her second language, and that she had to know that she was going to be a very lonely voice in a room full of people from outside of her neighborhood. Characterizing a person like that as a "nutjob" is just elitist crap, and it saddens me that everyone else on this board has just kind of let it go. If you can't understand that her position is extremely important and that her concerns are extremely likely to reflect the concerns of the people most affected by this decision, then I doubt that you have any more conscience or empathy than Seelbinder or CVS. You just happen to be on the other side of the issue.

I happen to agree with the city council that ED was not the correct tool to use here. I think people have some sort of view that the ED would be the deus ex machina of this little story. Implement ED and the project would immediately become an amazing project. I don't think it is that simple, thanks to the fact that Central Falls apparently has zero interest from government or neighborhood groups in preserving the station. As eltron said a few pages ago, if Pawtucket wanted to control the destiny of this project, they should have bought the land themselves. And if Councilor Vitali did not even give them the option to do that because of his own financial gain, then he should be removed from office for putting his own gain ahead of the city's. However the ball was dropped on this project many months ago, not last night.

What is really sad about this incident is that it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the incompetence that led to the destruction of the Leroy was not rooted out and changed, and that the vision of Pawtucket's contituents and government seems largely to be focused on making whatever short term gains they can at the expense of any kind of vision.

In short, this sucks, but last night wasn't going to change much anyway, even if they had voted to use ED. What we can hope is that stupid fudgeing CVS will actually make some concessions in their godawful craptacular store model so that the facade doesn't need to be removed.

Edited by brick

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Regardless, I am a little upset at gregw's portrayal of the neighborhood woman as a nutjob. Rather than being a nutjob, let's say that English is probably her second language, and that she had to know that she was going to be a very lonely voice in a room full of people from outside of her neighborhood. Characterizing a person like that as a "nutjob" is just elitist crap, and it saddens me that everyone else on this board has just kind of let it go. If you can't understand that her position is extremely important and that her concerns are extremely likely to reflect the concerns of the people most affected by this decision, then I doubt that you have any more conscience or empathy than Seelbinder or CVS. You just happen to be on the other side of the issue.

Calling someone a nutjob has nothing to do with elitism. A nutjob has nothing to do with income level or education and has zilch to do with language.

The woman's comments about the train station providing a dangerous environment seemed totally divorced from reality. She also radiated immense hostility toward people in the room which was totally uncalled for.

Were you even listening to what she had to say?

Edited by gregw

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I think the woman in question was not a nutjob, but she was very angry. She clearly throught that this was all about the *building* and was angry that people not from her neighborhood were standing in the way of economic development there. She felt that we (the people at the meeting) cared more about buildings than people. She was so angry that she couldn't/didn't hear what all the other speakers were saying about having the historic train station drive economic development in the area.

I think this is a real problem. I don't know how I would have tried to convince her that the development plan with the train station is better for economic development, especially given how angry she was, but I wish I knew a good way to do it.

She did say something about increased traffic being dangerous, and asked, "Would you want your kids growing up two blocks from a train station?"

I wonder if the Pawtucket Foundation and similar groups do any outreach to get residents of nearby neighborhoods to understand that it's not just about the building...

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I wonder if the Pawtucket Foundation and similar groups do any outreach to get residents of nearby neighborhoods to understand that it's not just about the building...

i feel like there's not enough outreach to people like her and that the outreach that does exist comes from people who do not have anything in common with her demographic and they feel like they're being told what to think.

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Calling someone a nutjob has nothing to do with elitism. A nutjob has nothing to do with income level or education and has zilch to do with language.

The woman's comments about the train station providing a dangerous environment seemed totally divorced from reality. She also radiated immense hostility toward people in the room which was totally uncalled for.

Were you even listening to what she had to say?

Yes and quite as a point of fact she was sitting right next to me in the audience before she spoke.

It absolutely is elitist. She was obviously uneducated as to the benefits of the project, and when other people from the neighborhood said that they wanted to talk to her about things and be a bigger part of the neighborhood group she was talking about, she was receptive to them and they exchanged phone numbers.

She was far from a nutjob, unless your definition of nutjob is someone who actually cares about her surroundings and feel threatened when a bunch of grassroots preservationists show up in her neighborhood that they had neglected for decades. There is a certain level of distrust. And the one fact of the matter is that Seelbinder reached out to these people which is something the Pawtucket Foundation, PreserveRI, and the city did N-O-T do. And shame on them for that.

Regardless, she had two points that she felt pretty strongly about.

1) The people speaking in support of the commuter rail and the station were not from the neighborhood, and have never participated in the neighborhood before recent events.

2) that the station creates hardships for the neighborhood mostly in the form of traffic. A traffic study has been notably absent from any of the proposals. And anyone who gets stuck in Attleboro anytime near when a train arrives knows that the impact is not insignificant. Given the infrastructure around the station, I think this is a valid concern. I would hope the city would address it, but they haven't given any indication of what they would actually do. Obviously we aren't at the point yet where the final plan is needed, but it would be nice if it had been addressed.

The last thing I have to say is that you might want to take some time to think about the definitions of elitism and empathy.

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You see, if CVS were a real corporate citizen they would be giving money to save something like Pawtucket Station, not being complicit in it's destruction.

Pretty much sums it up for me.

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oh.. and that lawer's name should be Snidley Whiplash.. its almost comical... he's such a villainous fop! :whistling:

Dude, your testimony was awesome! Most of the other people who spoke were the same ol' people that always speak at these kinds of things - you are the voice that really gets listened to. good job!

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Now, I apologize for the tangent, I just wouldn't want the record for people that weren't at the meeting to reflect that just a couple raving nutjobs opposed the station. For people who were there, go ahead and make your own decisions. I'm not really here to tell anyone else how to think and apologize for that tenor. The dismissive tone of the "nutjob" perjorative really got to me, though.

A more interesting subtext from this is the question of what is better in terms of advocacy. can you be an advocate for something if you have empathy for the opposing view? I think you can but maybe I am wrong. Maybe the only way to actually get things done is to bulldoze the opposing viewpoint to get yours the priority. However, IMO, this was the way that this project was handled by several of the preservation groups and is also the way CVS and Seelbinder approached it, and now everyone is unhappy.

I think there was a significant opportunity for compromise here, and I'm not quite sure why both sides chose to entrench themselves.

Edited by brick

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It appears that the big problem is that we have no process in place to proactively promote these types of projects in the proper manner that they require. Developers do this for a living. We at the grassroots seem to be constantly reacting to bad strip-mall development that show no respect for the traditionally urban character of our cities that both promotes a sense of place and provides a benefit to its residents, and the results of this reactivity do not seem to be effective. If those advocating for the station's preservation had a formal plan with funding sources, construction quotes, deliverable dates, and short-term community development funding (similar to funding tied to legislation like the Community Redevelopment Act), the neighborhood and the city would have, in my opinion, been fully supportive of this. Long-term, this is the solution but it takes time and money which is obviously a challenge given grassroots organization's funding problems and volunteers trying to balance work, life, and community. Maybe a Providence Tomorrow type project in all cities and town in the state if the answer. That way, at least the public can participate and formally implement urban friendly development into the formal zoning ordinances.

Edited by JimmyGreaves

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It appears that the big problem is that we have no process in place to proactively promote these types of projects in the proper manner that they require. Developers do this for a living. We at the grassroots seem to be constantly reacting to bad strip-mall development that show no respect for the traditionally urban character of our cities that both promotes a sense of place and provides a benefit to its residents, and the results of this reactivity do not seem to be effective. If those advocating for the station's preservation had a formal plan with funding sources, construction quotes, deliverable dates, and short-term community development funding (similar to funding tied to legislation like the Community Redevelopment Act), the neighborhood and the city would have, in my opinion, been fully supportive of this. Long-term, this is the solution but it takes time and money which is obviously a challenge given grassroots organization's funding problems and volunteers trying to balance work, life, and community. Maybe a Providence Tomorrow type project in all cities and town in the state if the answer. That way, at least the public can participate and formally implement urban friendly development into the formal zoning ordinances.

the problem with a lot of this is you end up with people who are not in the same demographic preaching about things that people in those poorer neighborhoods don't know much about and don't really have a need for. they don't see how this benefits them. there are definite benefits to a CVS for them, such as having another pharmacy and having jobs for their teenagers.

providence tomorrow type events (and we'll see what happens with the neighborhood charettes) could lead to the minority making decisions for the majority. i plan on going to all the neighborhood charettes just to view and observe and make a few comments, but i would not be surprised if we see them taken over by people who do not live in those neighborhoods. and that would be a shame.

community outreach needs to happen, but it needs to be started by people who live in that community, who are a part of that community. "carpetbaggers" will never be seen as looking out for those specific communities.

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I think the woman in question was not a nutjob, but she was very angry. She clearly throught that this was all about the *building* and was angry that people not from her neighborhood were standing in the way of economic development there. She felt that we (the people at the meeting) cared more about buildings than people. She was so angry that she couldn't/didn't hear what all the other speakers were saying about having the historic train station drive economic development in the area.

I think this is a real problem. I don't know how I would have tried to convince her that the development plan with the train station is better for economic development, especially given how angry she was, but I wish I knew a good way to do it.

She did say something about increased traffic being dangerous, and asked, "Would you want your kids growing up two blocks from a train station?"

I wonder if the Pawtucket Foundation and similar groups do any outreach to get residents of nearby neighborhoods to understand that it's not just about the building...

This is an extremely and important point. The woman in question is also on the Board of Directors of PCDC. I am fairly new there, and its been a tough position for the organization to be in with the train station.

To be honest, there has been a horrible job done with outreach of people concerned about the station, especially the city, to the people of the direct neighborhood. And the developer DID come up from Memphis and asked them what THEY wanted to see there...and that made them feel heard. There is most definitely a division between sorta the carpetbaggers, and the existing residents, and that divide absolutely MUST be bridged for any rational plan to move forward.

I will personally be working pretty hard on working with people in that neighborhood to be engaged in the process, and help them make informed decisions about their neighborhood and the city. This is critical, and I don't think the station advocates have fully grasped this...

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Regardless, she had two points that she felt pretty strongly about.

1) The people speaking in support of the commuter rail and the station were not from the neighborhood, and have never participated in the neighborhood before recent events.

2) that the station creates hardships for the neighborhood mostly in the form of traffic. A traffic study has been notably absent from any of the proposals. And anyone who gets stuck in Attleboro anytime near when a train arrives knows that the impact is not insignificant. Given the infrastructure around the station, I think this is a valid concern. I would hope the city would address it, but they haven't given any indication of what they would actually do. Obviously we aren't at the point yet where the final plan is needed, but it would be nice if it had been addressed.

The people singled out as never being to a neighborhood association meeting have never been invited, just as people from Barton Street have never been invited to PADS. This HAS to change, and dialogue needs to occur.

The question was also asked if I would want my kids living 2 blocks from a train station...I say HELL YEAH! I sure as hell don't want my kids EVER driving, and getting them familiar with public transit is seriously important.

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"carpetbaggers" will never be seen as looking out for those specific communities.

I agree that there is a lot mistrust. But if that argument was true in all cases, then surely the neighborhood would not trust a developer from another STATE vs. the people who are from same city, while maybe not from the same neighborhood. How is a Tennessee developer able to win support from a Rhode Island neighborhood, and what can be learned from their approach so that those who advocate for urban-friendly and beneficial development in neighborhoods other than our own can build trust as well? That is a key question.

Edited by JimmyGreaves

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Back to the Depot...

I think continued pressure on CVS is the best hope at this point. If they pulled out of the deal, Seelbinder has much less incentive to continue, thats for sure.

I personally may be adding CVS to my Wal-mart boycott of 9 years now...

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