City takes first steps towards addressing graffiti problem

A recent press release from the Mayor’s office reads:

“Initiative significantly increases fines for graffiti offenses, offers rewards to those who help police apprehend graffiti vandals, and enhances city’s clean-up capabilities” (read full release here).

There exists the potential for some positive outcomes with the new proposal. Increasing the penalty from $200 up to $1,000 may have a deterrence factor. Likewise, the release indicates that the City may step up and enforce a city ordinance that gives private property owners 10 days to remove the graffiti or seek the City’s assistance in doing so. Enforcing existing regulations is a great start.

Another initiative referenced in the release is that citizens can file a graffiti report electronically at the city’s website. Unfortunately, the graffiti reporting tool is yet another government run roach motel (in that data goes in, but it never comes back out). Providence must follow the lead of other large cities (Chicago’s ICAM data drives chicagocrime.org or Washington DC’s Service Request data) that are using technology to increase transparency and visibility into city services.

What is missing on the City’s graffiti reporting site is a view of the data that citizens have submitted. A view that includes

  • the date the graffiti was reported
  • the location of the graffiti (perhaps with a neighborhood designation so citizens could see all the graffit data on their neighborhood)
  • the date that the City placed a notice on the property to start the 10-day enforcement countdown
  • the date the City is scheduled to remove the graffiti
  • confirmation that the graffiti has been removed

Something perhaps like this:

Graf Mockup

The electronic reporting is a good first step, let’s hope our city takes the next one towards greater transparency into the services it purports to provide.

Citywide planning kickoff meetings approach next week

June 15 – Although we haven’t seen specifics, the city is planning to hold three major meetings to share and begin the new citywide planning process. We’ll post more information – but watch the news. These could be very important.

Over the summer, you should be seeing new surveys from the Department of Planning and Development, a new website and information pamphlets about the city and its neighborhoods, according to Linda Painter, Deputy Director of DPD. These are the first steps toward a citywide planning process described as “open and inclusive” by the Mayor and his staff at a preview for neighborhood activists on May 30. The full city presentation lays out concepts and key dates. Providence Tomorrow, June 06, Dept. of Planning and Development

We like the way Roanoke, VA, has included all neighborhoods in its planning process for the last 20 years with great success. Check out what Roanoke’s neighborhood plans look like.

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Sidewalk Talk (Updated)

Here’s an encouraging update on the inclusion of grass strips in any sidewalk replacement scheduled for Ward 3, which includes Summit.  At SNA’s request, our councilman, Kevin Jackson, has coordinated with DPW to revise the sidewalk bids to include grass strips, which should be covered by current funding. We will confirm as the work is scheduled, but this looks like a big win for a walkable streetscape in Summit and Mount Hope !

Attached is the SNA resolution on the grass strips. Read on for the history. (more…)

Update: School Board votes to close Nathan Bishop M.S.

This is a correction to an earlier post, which said the Providence School Board vote on Nathan Bishop was April 4th. The vote was Monday, April 3rd (today). The School Board voted to close Bishop and re-accomodate its students in other schools.

The Providence School Board voted this evening to close the Nathan Bishop Middle School for one year over the strong objections of everyone except the school’s East Side neighbors.

Supt. Donnie Evans’ recommendation to close Bishop caught parents, teachers and union leaders by surprise. Until Friday, Evans was proposing to close the middle school and re-open it as a high school for ninth-and tenth-graders in the fall.

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Mayor: No Hope St meter plans

May 11 – Mayor Cicilline told a gathering of Summit residents and merchants that he has seen no plans to install parking meters on Hope Street. In April, two SNA volunteers had separately confirmed a report from Miriam’s Monica Anderson that the meters were going in with officials at the Department of Planning and Development. (more…)

Public meeting on Summit business tonight – please come!

The Summit Neighborhood Association invites you to a meeting tonight, Wednesday, May 11 at 7P to discuss the current state of neighborhood businesses in Summit and the futures of Hope Street and North Main. The meeting will be held at the Rochambeau Branch Library in the Community Room (downstairs).

– Do you want to see parking meters on commercial streets like Hope?
– What will proposed new zoning rules mean for locally-owned businesses and the character of our streets?
– Will the Sears department store ever be torn down or fixed up?
– What kinds of commercial development would improve the neighborhood? What kinds could harm our quality of life?

Our featured guests
– Michael Vocolla, Vice President of the Procaccianti Group, new owners of the Sears/Anderson Little properties.
– Bonnie Lloyd, a Planner with the City’s Department of Planning and Development
– Tina Wright of Garrison Confections and Dan Goldman of Green River Silver representing the Hope Street merchants.