Annual meeting elects directors, gets updates from activists in the community

State Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg discuss their legislative priorities at the SNA annual meeting at the Highlands on the East Side.

Almost 60 people attended the annual meeting of the Summit Neighborhood Association May 20 to get updates from its officers plus elected officials and public servants as well as enjoy a social evening with other residents.

Gathering at 7 p.m. in the main dining area of the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., the audience, sipping wine and beer and munching on pizza as well as Highlands-supplied desserts, was welcomed by SNA President Dean Weinberg, who then quickly introduced two speakers who had commitments elsewhere.

First, Wendy Nilsson, the recently named director of the Providence Parks Department, described her excitement of her new post and said she intended to work with the people of the neighborhoods, adding that she was already familiar with the efforts of SNA to develop community gardens in the Summit Avenue park and “tot lot” playground as part of its refurbishment.

Second, state Sen. Gayle Goldin spoke of her efforts in the General Assembly, in cooperation with Summit’s Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who said he agreed with her, to raise the minimum wage so workers could contribute to an economic revitalization of the city, an objective she cited as vital to the quality of life of residents.

Weinberg then turned to a review of SNA’s accomplishments of the previous year, listing the huge music festival in Lippitt Park, the yard sale at the Church of the Redeemer, the bake-off competition at Seven Stars, the holiday caroling for charity, the snow-shoveling program to aid the handicapped and elderly and the group’s cooperation with various efforts by the Hope Street Merchants Association.

HSMA co-president Pernilla Frazier elaborated on those efforts, stressing the block party scheduled for June 6, the project to bring solar-powered streetlights to the area, a volunteer cleanup of the winter’s debris and new bicycles racks coming.

Regunberg returned to the floor, and in response to a question, said he generally is cautious about the proposal for a new stadium, but is keeping an open mind and listening to his constituents.

The main business event of the evening, the election of a new SNA board of directors, was conducted by Secretary Thomas Schmeling . The following officers were approved by a unanimous voice vote: Weinberg, president; Schmeling, secretary; Kerry Kohring, vice president; and Vishal Jain, treasurer. Re-elected as directors were Jim Barfoot, Grant Dulgarian, Anneliese Greenier, Daniel MacLellan, Michael McGlynn, Britt Page, Sheila Perlow and Sharon Lee Waldman. New directors approved were Erik Christiansen, Lee Clasper-Torch, Emily Spitzman, Mark Tracy and Karina Holyoak Wood. (See profiles below.)

Providence Police Capt. George Stamatakos concluded the presentation part of the meeting with an update on the string of burglaries and breakins around the neighborhood, explaining how a few known juveniles have been arrested but released by the courts numerous times. Answering questions from the audience, he urged residents to take common-sense precautions to deter crime, especially not having open doors or windows and never leaving anything in parked cars.

Some audience members stayed afterwards to chat with the speakers and to have a last glass of wine or a pastry delight.

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Here are profiles of the new board members.

Erik Christiansen lives on Rochambeau Avenue and has been a Summit resident for four years. He is a history professor at Rhode Island College and is involved in local community-history projects, including one at the North Burial Ground. His special interest is in promoting walkability and safety in the neighborhood.
Lee Clasper-Torch lives on Fourth Street and has been a Summit resident for 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of the philosophy of religion at the Community College of Rhode Island and is men’s engagement coordinator for the R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. His special interest is in community building and neighborhood advocacy.
Emily Spitzman lives on Lauriston Street and has been a Summit resident for 6 1/2 years. She is an assistant professor at Johnson and Wales University with a special interest in education and language learning.
She has previously served on the SNA Board of Directors.
Mark Tracy lives on Arlington Avenue with his wife and two children. He is on the boards of both Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and Brown University’s Association of Class Leaders. He earned his B.A. at Brown and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard. His “day job” is with Cargill, working with public pension funds, foundations and endowments. His wife, Molly, is a pediatric neurologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Karina Holyoak Wood lives on Ogden Street and has been an East Sider for 18 years, moving to Summit last year. She is the public policy director for the American Lung Association in Rhode Island and is a parent advocate for improving the public schools. Her special interests include local politics and running.

SNA President Dean Weinberg briefs members on the organization's accomplishments.

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2 Comments

  1. kerryk
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Yes. I haven’t asked her but I don’t think she is old enough to have lived anywhere for 61 years.

  2. Judith Schrier
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    “Emily Spitzman lives on Lauriston Street and has been a Summit resident for 61/2 years.”

    Does that mean “6 1/2 years” or “30 1/2 years” ? Where should the space go?