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Mayor Elorza urges public support for plan to promote long-term fiscal responsibility

Mayor Jorge Elorza speaks to the meeting of the SNA board and public guests.

Mayor Jorge Elorza speaks to the meeting of the SNA board and public guests.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza brought his campaign for long-range fiscal planning to Summit Monday evening.

Speaking to about 20 members and guests at the regular monthly meeting of SNA’s board of directors at Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Ave., he said, “I am truly committed to getting our house in order.”

Elorza said the city is facing a long-term challenge of a structural deficit where expenses are growing faster than revenue because of unsustainable past commitments. He cited compounding cost-of-living-adjustments made by previous administrations that did not make the required payments to retirement funds for decades. “Current employees are not the problem,” the mayor said.

The city has hired outside consultants, he said, to provide an extensive list of options to resolve the problem, but bankruptcy is not one of them. “Technically, you have to be insolvent, so we may not qualify” under state and federal law, Elorza explained, and “Providence has a lot to work with.”

Responding to a question about selling the city water supply system, Elorza said privatizing it was not an option but “regionalizing” it on the model of the Narragansett Bay Commission was, but would have to be a “very complicated” process.

The mayor said the “basket of recommendations” offered by the consultants include: long-term planning; creating a capital budget and investing in infrastructure; making taxes and fees more competitive; and addressing unsustainable legacy costs.

He said the city needed to rebalance its relationship with its nonprofits by seeking payments in lieu of taxes at parity with a standard rate of valuation. He also said “we need a grand bargain with union leaders and retirees” for a one-time lump-sum payment to make sure pensions are there when needed.

The mayor said more details are contained in his current budget proposal which may be examined online at openbudget.providenceri.gov.

Elorza declared that “we have a tremendous crisis but also a remarkable opportunity” to solve the city’s financial problems, but “once we face this challenge, I truly, truly believe Providence will be among the next great cities.”

The mayor makes a point at his presentation.

The mayor makes a point at his presentation.

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Mayor Elorza to discuss city’s finances at SNA meeting Monday, May 16

SNA Elorza

 

The Summit Neighborhood Association invites everyone to its regular board meeting at which Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza will discuss the city’s finances.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, May 16, in the main dining room at Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Ave. The mayor’s proposal is below, as posted on his web page.

The details can be viewed through the online tool Open Budget Providence by visiting: openbudget.providenceri.gov

     TAXES
• Makes the car tax more affordable and fairer for our residents by raising the exemption level to $2,000
• Forms a revenue working group to identify alternative sources of revenue and reduce reliance on property and excise taxes
• Proposes an ordinance to create a standardized tangible tax stabilization agreement aimed to attract and expand businesses in Providence’s strongest sectors: food, design, maritime, and aging
• Ends city’s reliance on one-time revenue sources for budget gaps, ensuring that one-time revenues go to one-time investments
• Lowers residential tax rate, non-resident tax rate, and commercial property tax rate

     NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
• Tenfold increase in the city’s capital budget to $1 million
• Continues the citywide EveryHome Program in an effort to reduce blight and address vacant and abandoned properties in the city
• Provides $1.1 million support to local businesses through the Providence Business Loan Fund
• Creates a Small Business Liaison position to assist in starting or expanding a business
• Creates a Capital Improvement and Community Investment workgroup that targets investments in infrastructure

     PUBLIC SAFETY
• Expanded Police Academy to 60 cadets from 32 to be trained and prepared for duty by early 2017
• Opens the application process for the city’s 51st Fire Academy
• Expands community policing efforts with a dedicated community liaison within the Public Safety Department
• Includes new signage for the newly expanded citywide Neighborhood Crime Watch program

     PUBLIC EDUCATION
• $500,000 Access to Technology investment which will provide over 1,200 new computers to schools
• Expands summer and after-school learning opportunities for students
• Provides support for administrators and principals by giving more autonomy and resources
• Invests in equity in Providence Public Schools through the hiring of an EEOC Officer
• Creates bilingual call center to be point of contact between families and Providence schools

     HEALTHY LIVING AND SUSTAINABILITY
• Expands full summer programming offered by the city’s Recreation Department
• Continues year-round recreation programs developed this current year
• Includes improvements to parks, playgrounds, and green spaces including Roger Williams Park

     LONG-TERM FINANCIAL STABILITY
• Calls on stakeholders in state government, non-profit institutions, labor, and business to work collaboratively with the city to face fiscal challenges

 

 

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Miriam Hospital seeks community input, announces sweeping of parking lots

TMH Forum Flier jpeg      We are asking everyone to RSVP through event brite or to call as there is limited seating for the forum. A light dinner is provided to all attendees.

Here is the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/join-us-for-a-conversation-about-your-communitys-health-needs-registration-24329735895.

The forum will present the findings from the 2013 Community Health Needs Assessments and also engage attendees to share with us there current health concerns. This meeting is not designed to focus on TMH neighborhood relations issues (parking, litter, etc) as we want to hear about what the community feels are their health needs and concerns. We will be compiling information from the forums toward our 2016 Needs Assessments.

In addition, the hospital advise neighbors of their plans to perform the annual sweeping and cleaning of their parking lots on Saturday, May 7 with a rain date of May 14. They will be sweeping the Seventh Street parking lot, as well as lots B and C. They schedule the lot cleaning for weekend work due to the maximum volume of parking regularly experienced Monday-Friday.
They apologize for any noise and or inconvenience that this project will cause you. Please feel free to call Monica Anderson, director of community relations and corporate citizenship at The Neighborhood Hotline at (401)-793-4040 with any questions or comments.

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Annual meeting recognizes community activist, elects new board of directors

SNA President Dean Weinberg, right, awards a certificate of recognition to community activist Gil Mason.

SNA President Dean Weinberg, right, awards a certificate of recognition to community activist Gil Mason.

 

The approximately 50 people who attended the Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting joined in honoring a community activist, elected a new board of directors and engaged in questions and answers with their elected representatives.

SNA President Dean Weinberg began the evening by thanking the Highlands of the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., for hosting the event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. He then reviewed the organization’s accomplishments over the year, including the snow-shoveling assistance program, the fall bake-off competition, the lecture series, the education discussions and the blow-out music festival in the summer.

Weinberg next introduced Gil Mason, who has worked for 20 years to develop the book sales that benefit the Rochambeau library, as well as other aspects of support for the library system. Mason was awarded a plaque that took note of his behind-the-scenes efforts. The inscription reads: “The Summit Neighborhood Association recognizes and appreciates the years of quiet service to the community of Gil Mason and awards him this certificate as a token of the community’s esteem.” Mason took the opportunity to express his appreciation of the sense of neighborliness in the Summit area and his enjoyment in being a part of it.

The required element of business at the annual meeting was the election of the board of directors, which was handled by Thomas Schmeling, SNA secretary. The slate, which was approved by acclamation, was: Weinberg, president; Kerry Kohring, vice president; Schmeling, secretary; Britt Page, treasurer; incumbents Erik Christiansen, Lee Clasper-Torch, Grant Dulgarian, Anneliese Greenier, Daniel MacLellan, Sheila Perlow, Emily Spitzman, Mark Tracy and Sharon Lee Waldman; and newcomers Ting Barnard, Kim Clark, Thomas Doyle, Ethan Gyles, Coryndon Luxmoore and Toby Shepherd. They will serve one-year terms until the next annual meeting.

Rounding out the evening, City Councilman Kevin Jackson, state Rep. Aaron Regunberg and state Sen. Gayle Goldin took the floor to discuss issues with their constituents. They answered questions about the possible sale of the city water system, which is included in a consultant’s report to Mayor Jorge Elorza but not is not being actively pursued, the revaluation of property for tax purposes as well as the methods of appeal and the threat to Rhode Island of global warming.

Throughout the evening, participants were able to munch on pizza and sip wine, beer and soft drinks. This year, in observance of Passover, kosher snacks were provided by Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur and kosher wine was available.

Here are profiles of the new board members.

     Ting Barnard is the owner of an independent consulting firm specializing in empowering small-business owners and local artists, with a studio in downtown Providence. She lives on Fosdyke Street with her husband, Ian, and 6-year-old daughter, Victory. Ting is actively involved on several philanthropic projects and endeavors throughout the state.

     Kim Clark has lived in the Summit Neighborhood for 23 years, far longer than she’s ever lived anywhere. Kim has two sons with whom she’s been navigating the Providence Public School System for the past 15 years. For the last 18 months, she has run a small business called Rhody Craft on Hope Street, and this neighborhood is the only place she’d have felt comfortable embarking on such an adventure.

Thomas Doyle came to Providence in 2001 to attend Brown Medical School and lives on Vassar Street with his wife, Amy, and their two daughters. He is an internist at Charlton Hospital in Fall River, but has a background in writing and journalism, having worked briefly in newspapers before going back to medical school. He is interested in community organizing and has helped set up three tree-planting days on the East Side.

     Ethan Gyles lives with his wife, Pam, and 8-month old daughter on Hillside Avenue and has lived in the neighborhood since 2008, when he and his wife decided to make Providence their home after graduate school. He’s a professional engineer and project manager with the Providence office of ERM, an environmental consulting firm, where he focuses on contaminated site restoration projects and environmental permitting. He’s a member of the Providence Ethics Commission, Common Cause Rhode Island, and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists.

     Coryndon Luxmoore ives on Sarah Street, having relocated from Richmond, Va. in 1990 to study Industrial Design at RISD. He moved into Summit in 1996 as a tenant on 11th Street and later as a homeowner and landlord on Sarah, but is most recognized as the companion of a purple-booted Basset Hound. Coryndon works in Boston as a lead UX architect for Mortgage Builder, a provider of Mortgage Origination Software. Before that, he built a UX design team and practice as vice president of user experience at Buildium.

     Toby Shepherd is the strategic initiative officer for education at the Rhode Island Foundation. Before that, he was director of policy for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Toby holds a masters degree in public policy from Harvard University, serves on the board of Temple Emanu-El and is raising his three kids (ages 6, 3 and 1) on Lauriston Street.

SNA education committee member Emily Spitzman reports on the fund-raiser planned for Flatbread Pizza at 6 p.m. June 7 to help pay for extracurricular events for students at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

SNA education committee member Emily Spitzman reports on the fund-raiser planned for Flatbread Pizza at 6 p.m. June 7 to help pay for extracurricular events for students at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

 

 

 

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More progress on community gardens

A new gate has been installed to allow vehicles to deliver supplies and do any landscaping on the proposed gardens in the tot lot on Summit Avenue.

A new gate has been installed to allow vehicles to deliver supplies and do any landscaping on the proposed gardens in the tot lot on Summit Avenue.

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Gardens move ahead without water line

Committee head Greg Gerritt gets a little help laying out the perimeters of the garden fence. Photo by Nancy Buron

Committee head Greg Gerritt gets a little help laying out the perimeters of the garden fence.                Photo by Nancy Buron

Initial work on the community gardens portion of the planned redevelopment of the Summit Avenue tot lot has moved ahead despite the absence of the water-line installation.

About a dozen people assembled in the park early Saturday, April 23, to celebrate Earth Day by pruning a remaining tree and marking out where the garden fence is to go. Previously that week, the city Parks Department removed a small tree from the garden area, but with a promise to plant a new tree elsewhere.

R.P. Iannuccillo & Sons Construction, of Providence, the contractor for the water line, said that they had not yet scheduled the work for the Summit garden because they had several other locations included in the city’s project.

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Elorza cancels annual-meeting appearance

Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave.

Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave.

The Summit Neighborhood Association will hold its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave. Unfortunately, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has cancelled his appearance in favor of the presentation of his budget to the city. Also, a main topic of discussion at the meeting – the placing of parking meters on Hope Street – has been rejected by the city administration. The main order of business at the meeting now will be the presentation of a community activism award and the election of a new board of directors. In addition there will be pizza, wine, beer and sodas, but this year there will also be kosher snacks and wine in observance of Passover.

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Hospice expert cites options for families dealing with terminal illness of loved ones

Dr. Edward Martin, center, leads the discussion at Summit Commons.

Dr. Edward Martin, center, leads the discussion at Summit Commons.

About a half-dozen people learned recently that palliative and hospice care is much like medical insurance, but that it alleviates the emotional burden of a terminal illness instead of the financial one.

This was the message of Dr. Edward W. Martin, chief medical officer at Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island, at a presentation sponsored by SNA April 13 at Summit Commons.

Dr. Martin, who has about 30 years experience in the field, said the concept of comforting the dying and ensuring the quality of life they have left is fairly recent, having developed in the 1980s. Up to then, he said, medical care had been focused on avoiding death and there was little organized support for families facing the end of life of a loved one.

Beginning in Connecticut and then growing into Rhode Island, hospice care employs a core of professionals who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to visit patients at home and guide families through aspects of care and emotional support. Palliative care focuses on patients who have longer prognoses, yet both types usually die in the comfort of their own homes. Dr. Martin cited a Dana-Farber study that found that patients with palliative care actually lived longer than patients who had only medical care.

If a patient is facing less than six months of life, Dr. Martin said, the family and the medical community must realistically face the formulation of goals centered on what is best for the loved one. Hospice or palliative care is increasingly an answer, he concluded.

The presentation was part of a series of discussions sponsored by SNA about topics of interest to the community.

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Presentation on end-of-life care

Edward W. Martin, MD, MPH, FAAHPM

Edward W. Martin, MD, MPH, FAAHPM

Caring for loved ones reaching the end of their lives can be a difficult time for all of us.

To help us cope with it, SNA is sponsoring a presentation titled “Graceful to the Finish – Hospice and Palliative Care,” by Dr. Edward W. Martin, chief medical officer at Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island.

The free session is open to the public and will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 13, in the main dining room of Summit Commons at 99 Hillside Ave. Plenty of free parking is available.

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