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PAWTUCKET STATION THREATENED


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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.

the developer won support, as eltron said, by asking the residents what they wanted to see. i'm sure the developer was pretty good with his wording and in asking them what they wanted, he was able to guide their answers towards what he was planning. having your voice heard and feeling like people are listening to what you want feels good. it gave the residents a warm fuzzy feeling. the state and the city needs to do this more rather than let developers guide the way the city grows and changes.

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...

even though i haven't needed to go to CVS recently, i won't be going there unless they come up with a good plan for this site.

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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...

agreed. it is time to start holding corporations reponsible for the actions done in their name by developers. It is deplorable but not surprising that CVS opted to stay silent on this. They are a local company for Cod's sake and they have a DUTY to support communities in more ways than puking up convenience stores on every street corner.

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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.

I agree to a point here. I feel that her anger was misdirected and she came off as ranting when she spoke to the council as a whole. It seemed like she did not understand the long view here?

She mentioned that her neighbors work in factories and would never use the train station.. That makes no sense whatsoever to me.. countless thousands of people have used public transit as a way to free themselves from low income jobs .. opening up doors that were locked to them before (no car etc).. A woman from my neighborhood sat in front of me and turned to me during the recess commenting on this very point, saying how she grew up in Pawtucket (she's in her 80's) and worked in a factory but went to school in Boston. The only way she was able to do that was because of the train.. she never would have broken out of her neighborhood otherwise.. she was absolutely crushed when the council voted against saving the station.

You think a CVS parking lot is going to be a friggin green space? please.. it will degenerate into a crappy drug space in 2 years or so.. this is the only thing that will pull that area up and it looks like its going the way of the buffalo.

Eltron, Please let me know what I can do to help this situation.. I'm offering my services right here and now. I'll canvas the area.. I'll try and get petitions signed.. whatever it takes. I feel helpless but its not in my nature to throw in the towel.. I'm actually up for some good old fashioned protesting ala Eagle Square in Providence if thats what it will take.

Edited by bloodyrocker
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My last comment about the woman at the meeting. Maybe I should not have used the term nutjob, but this is the same woman who angrily berated the audience and accused them of only caring about buildings and not caring about people, and then said "shame on you," which I think was way out of line and off base. Just because someone comes from a low-income background (which we're all assuming she is, perhaps erroneously) doesn't mean that they should be held to a lower standard of behavior and reason.

If that makes me elitist, so be it.

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I'm personally boycotting CVS until they publicly confront this issue (at very least) and hope that everyone else who hasn't stated their intent to do so will join me in it. I am tremendously disappointed with their lack of presence in all of this, it is a spineless display of public avoidance. What else are they willing to let be destroyed in their name?

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My last comment about the woman at the meeting. Maybe I should not have used the term nutjob, but this is the same woman who angrily berated the audience and accused them of only caring about buildings and not caring about people, and then said "shame on you," which I think was way out of line and off base. Just because someone comes from a low-income background (which we're all assuming she is, perhaps erroneously) doesn't mean that they should be held to a lower standard of behavior and reason.

If that makes me elitist, so be it.

Let's keep in prospective the reason why the neighbors who live in the depot area don't want to see the project completed. Currently these residents live in conditions rife with drugs, prostitution, and gang activity. Should the Depot project be completed, property values in the neighborhood would sharply increase. The multi-unit buildings that are currently rat and roach infested on Montgomery St. will be converted to condominiums, the old victorian style houses on Nickerson St. would be scooped up by developers and rebuilt and sold to young middle class yuppies who commute to and from Boston. Not only would the drugs, crime and prostitution be pushed out of this area, so would the current residents of the Barton St. area. Affordable housing is at a minimum now. These people know that these improvements will not benefit them.

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Let's keep in prospective the reason why the neighbors who live in the depot area don't want to see the project completed. Currently these residents live in conditions rife with drugs, prostitution, and gang activity. Should the Depot project be completed, property values in the neighborhood would sharply increase. The multi-unit buildings that are currently rat and roach infested on Montgomery St. will be converted to condominiums, the old victorian style houses on Nickerson St. would be scooped up by developers and rebuilt and sold to young middle class yuppies who commute to and from Boston. Not only would the drugs, crime and prostitution be pushed out of this area, so would the current residents of the Barton St. area. Affordable housing is at a minimum now. These people know that these improvements will not benefit them.

I definitely sympathize with the people who have to live right near this property. I can't blame them if they see a CVS as their best option particualrly since the developer has smartly reached out to them. If I lived in the Barton St area, I would also be concerned that if the property was taken by ED it might just sit there for years pending funding and further reviews. I wouldn't blame anyone for opposing it for this reason or for the concern that if built it might lead to dramatic gentrification.

On the other hand, I can see it in the city's best interest to get the depot back since this could potentially stimulate the economy and, as the saying goes lift all boats. Defintely a cunundrum.

I think that people's sympathies for the residents are not helped when they are branded as insensitive elitists who don't even care about children.

And the immediate residents of the depot probably aren't too wowed by a lot of fancy art gallery types who lecture them about Beaux-Arts style, Pawtucket being a new economy hub (pretty alienating if you work in a factory of which they are still a good number). There needs to be compromise and one person last night who set the right tone was the youngish guy from the neighborhood who seemed pretty sympathetic to the CVS plan but reasonable and willing to listen. My 2 cents.

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Let's keep in prospective the reason why the neighbors who live in the depot area don't want to see the project completed. Currently these residents live in conditions rife with drugs, prostitution, and gang activity. Should the Depot project be completed, property values in the neighborhood would sharply increase. The multi-unit buildings that are currently rat and roach infested on Montgomery St. will be converted to condominiums, the old victorian style houses on Nickerson St. would be scooped up by developers and rebuilt and sold to young middle class yuppies who commute to and from Boston. Not only would the drugs, crime and prostitution be pushed out of this area, so would the current residents of the Barton St. area. Affordable housing is at a minimum now. These people know that these improvements will not benefit them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the train stop WITH the Depot. And I don't necessarily sympathize with the people who live in the area. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in Pawtucket and I currently reside here, I own a house here and I pay taxes to the city. I feel this gives me every right to voice my opinion on what happens in the city despite what the woman who was "disgusted" with the outside interference with her neighborhood thinks. I have been reading and listening to the Barton St. Neighborhood Association complain about the lack of Police presence in combating the problems that have plagued this neighborhood for as long as I can remember and now that (at least some of) the city council and the Doyle Administration are attempting to solve this problem through redevelopment, the Barton St. Neighborhood Association is not on board. Well, I'm sorry, if your not part of the solution, your part of the problem. If that makes me elitist in some peoples eyes, than so be it.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the train stop WITH the Depot. And I don't necessarily sympathize with the people who live in the area. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in Pawtucket and I currently reside here, I own a house here and I pay taxes to the city. I feel this gives me every right to voice my opinion on what happens in the city despite what the woman who was "disgusted" with the outside interference with her neighborhood thinks. I have been reading and listening to the Barton St. Neighborhood Association complain about the lack of Police presence in combating the problems that have plagued this neighborhood for as long as I can remember and now that (at least some of) the city council and the Doyle Administration are attempting to solve this problem through redevelopment, the Barton St. Neighborhood Association is not on board. Well, I'm sorry, if your not part of the solution, your part of the problem. If that makes me elitist in some peoples eyes, than so be it.

Hey Racepicks! Welcome to the forum, glad to have another voice heard.

I also reside and own a house here and I pay my taxes to the city as well.. I know exactly what your saying about the Barton St. Association too. I'm hoping that all this attention will at least open lines of communication between everyone.

Now... I'm thinking about starting a Boycott CVS myspace page.. anyone think this is a good idea? contributions?

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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 would agree with that assessment. She was grossly misinformed. But she was also furious and that anger was -- IMO, anyway -- an obstacle to the message she was trying to communicate: she certainly didn't help herself. That was what I was talking about when I called her ineloquent, not her usage of the English language.

She spoiled her message. She wasn't alone in that: a lot of people botched speeches last night. But she was the one who was enraged & screaming.

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.

The situation didn't become urgent until recently. No, there weren't people making supportive signs and speeches about this project before. But the station wasn't in immediate jeopardy then: it was thought that progress towards a train stop was being made. That changed suddenly a couple of days ago when Seelbinder's construction crew started taking bites out of the station. Are people supposed to apologize for not being psychic?

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I hope that the people who have joined UrbanPlanet to comment on this thread will feel welcome to continue to contribute and use UrbanPlanet as a place to network and take on this issue as it continues to unfold.

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Now... I'm thinking about starting a Boycott CVS myspace page.. anyone think this is a good idea? contributions?

I do but I would check with PADS and/or The Pawtucket Foundation to see what kind of pressure should be brought to bear on CVS at this point. They've been leading the charge hear, and I would respect their opinion on how much, and what kind of pressure CVS should be put under.

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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.

This is slightly off topic, but I think the underlying issues brought up here are important, not just for Pawtucket and the station but in dialogue all over the region. I thought the above question was particularly interesting, as was the subtext of some of the anger of neighborhood members, as I think the two issues are linked.

Can one advocate and empathize at the same time? Of course. To use a personal example, I support the idea of the Eastern side of the 195 land in Providence being developed in a mixed use fashion in a way that reunites the Main St, Wickenden, and Water St neighborhoods in their historic fashion. It's one of the things in the city that I feel strongest about.

There are others who believe all of that land should be used as open space to expand India Point Park. Many are very forceful in this opinion and very angry at others who disagree with them. I empathize with their viewpoint and think it's admirable. It's a good idea. I just like my viewpoint better. I don't think they are wrong per se. Providence won't fall into the pits of hell if that land becomes open space. I just happen to think redevelopment there is much better for the city and for the surrounding neighborhoods. Better is the enemy of good here, at least in my way of thinking.

So yes, you can advocate and empathize.

One of the big problems this illustrates is that, in my opinion and observation thus far, much of what fuels opposition of or support for many community initiatives (especially by reactionary neighborhood groups) is anger. Anger at developers. Anger at yuppies. Anger at students. Anger at the wealthy. Anger at poor people. Pick your target...

In that way, I very much disagree with the comment attributed to the woman at the forum. It's often not buildings that individuals and community groups come out to argue against, it's the people who they associate with those buildings that their anger is aimed at. This anger at others is what keeps neighborhood groups from often being part of the solution and is what often can (unwittingly and counterproductively) make them part of the problem.

And this is where dialogue breaks down. I don't know how many angry people I had yelling at me at the Providence Tomorrow sessions saying I wasn't "listening" to their viewpoints. It's not an issue of listening (I could, and often did, repeat their positions back to them verbatim) or empathy, it's that I disagree with them and don't share their anger at particular demographics.

The reason these reactionaries and groups can become difficult to work with and require time and outreach is that you have to bypass their anger at certain people (which you won't alter), and really need to talk about buildings, economics, and other issues of common ground.

Maybe the only way to actually get things done is to bulldoze the opposing viewpoint to get yours the priority.

I'm not quite sure why both sides chose to entrench themselves.

The above approach is one many opposing viewpoints and special interest groups take. Just be the loudest and most disruptive voice at the table, or just ignore the rules altogether...

As to why they chose to entrench themselves, see my anger explanation above...

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.

This is exactly what I think will happen with the neighborhood charrettes...

- Garris

Edited by Garris
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Back to Pawtucket...

I missed the gist of what the Barton St. VISTA volunteer said. She talked about doing a survey among residents, and the result was ? Someone, fill me in I must have been staring at the RR hats at that point.

Also, while the forum last night was Pawtucket City Council, only a few people representing statewide or national organizations actually made the point that rail service from the pawtucket/cfalls depot would be good for Rhode Island. Besides GrowSmart, where were the environmental organizations, where were the sustainable transportation people, where was DOT? Were they invited or not? Don't they see what's at stake?

Rail service in Pawtucket/CFalls is not just about Pawtucket/CFalls! Of all the people I know who commute to Boston from RI, at least 2/3 DRIVE to S. Attleboro to park and catch the train rather than go to Prov. Sure, part of the problem is the Prov schedule (yes, getting better). I know that walking, biking, or taking the bus can be done (see Urbie), but go ahead and count the RI plates in the Attleboro T parking lot.

I'm not saying this comes as a big surprise to UP types, but DUH the train station is NOT just a Pawt/CFalls issue. Is part of the problem that that voices from the region and the state aren't part of the discussion?

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Back to Pawtucket...

I missed the gist of what the Barton St. VISTA volunteer said. She talked about doing a survey among residents, and the result was ? Someone, fill me in I must have been staring at the RR hats at that point.

She presented a petition with 40 signatures that people are NOT opposed to the train station of saving of the building, but are concerned that this will delay the redevelopment of the parcel. They would like to see something done with the building as soon as possible.

That was it. From my talking to people in the neighborhood, the vast majority just want to see something done...

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The biggest gap in this whole thing is why wasn't any attention paid to CF?

I haven't heard anything about the Pawtucket folks petitioning the CF city council and mayor. Did they just assume CF would do whatever Pawtucket wanted? How come there were no public hearings in CF? etc.?

It's easy to blame Seelbinder but this whole thing has been a mess.

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exactly! if eltron is right in saying that demo can't happen on a building that staddles municipalities without the demo permits by both cities, then everyone should be turning their ire to CF and assembling whatever legal action needs to happen to stop the demo for good. We're already, what, 4 days into the 8 day stay? Trust me when i tell you that Tom Moses (developer's lawyer) is no one to truffle with, and folks fighting this battle need to be prepared!

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One of the big problems this illustrates is that, in my opinion and observation thus far, much of what fuels opposition of or support for many community initiatives (especially by reactionary neighborhood groups) is anger.

I'll take your point one step further. In my opinion, the anger is the result of a broken trust between parties, most likely promises/commitments made by government or developers were not fulfilled. The hard part is that once that trust is broken, it is extremely hard to restore.

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Besides GrowSmart, where were the environmental organizations, where were the sustainable transportation people, where was DOT? Were they invited or not? Don't they see what's at stake?

Rail service in Pawtucket/CFalls is not just about Pawtucket/CFalls! Of all the people I know who commute to Boston from RI, at least 2/3 DRIVE to S. Attleboro to park and catch the train rather than go to Prov. Sure, part of the problem is the Prov schedule (yes, getting better). I know that walking, biking, or taking the bus can be done (see Urbie), but go ahead and count the RI plates in the Attleboro T parking lot.

I'm not saying this comes as a big surprise to UP types, but DUH the train station is NOT just a Pawt/CFalls issue. Is part of the problem that that voices from the region and the state aren't part of the discussion?

Number of trains/frequencies that South Attleboro has that Providence station doesn't: 0, zero, zilch.

They share the same exact number of trains (in fact they are the same exact trains themsleves at 15 per weekday).

I do agree with this point of view, but must say that the fate of the current depot building does not prohibit or necessarily guarantee commuter rail to PTCT/CF. While I can't speak for the environmental groups, I can guess that the transportation people were not necessarily invited or needed to be there at this stage (why would they want to be under the circumstances) since any commuter rail is years away regardless if it's in the old depot or a brand new facility. My personal feeling is that a rehab of the current depot would be a quicker/easier step towards CR, but not an absolute requirment for it to eventually happen. The issue here is these 2 cities' inability to secure a spot for an eventual station and related positive community development (among other things from what I read in here) and subsequent tragesty that is unfolding with this location from a historical, cultural, and moral standpoint...

Edited by mental757
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Throwing out a vote still won't get them to the 5 yeses they needed though will it?

No, but vitali voted against the motion for a continuance would maybe have given them the 5th vote since there was one member absent. Vitali technically recused himself from the vote (hence the 4-3 initial count)

This is weak hope, though, AFAIK, the council member absent is an opponent of the PDC plan and against ED.

I hope that the mayor's office and various preservation groups are really looking at the other legal issues more closely, such as the legality of demolition on the CF side. If they can determine that indeed demo can't happen without both municipalities issuing permits, then they can stall until Seelbinder sues for a demo permit in Pawtucket.

What would really have helped the whole issue is if the city just zoned this area for no drive-thrus, which would also have likely saved the Leroy. the drive-thru is what necessitates the demolition of the facade, from what I can tell.

Edited by brick
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