House to hear I-195 Commission Bill tomorrow

As an update on the previous post regarding the I-195 Commission vote, to be heard by the House tomorrow, please see the following from our neighbors in Fox Point:

The House has I-195 Redevelopment Commission on docket tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29th.  Take 30 seconds to read the updated information below about the now 61 acres of prime real estate, of which you would have no voice, while your property taxes go up.

Urge Speaker Fox and the Providence delegation to vote no to the Senate version of the bill directly at http://www.citizenspeak.org/campaign/paul7of7/stop-i-195-redevelopment-commission

(Click on image to enlarginate)

Re-opening of the fountain in Lippitt Park

Rather than reiterate what neighbors are saying, here is exactly what they are saying…

Dear Jesse,    I went to the fountain dedication this morning… when we arrived the place was full of people …  sitting on the fountain rim, strolling about,  passing to and from the farmers market… the weather was perfect, not too hot… and the mood alight with the pleasure of summer in the park…

But though there was water in the basin,   it wasn’t running.  And that was because first there were speeches under the tent… when your name was mentioned and mentioned in recognition of your tenacious work and belief in the fountain.

And then the speeches were over, Mayor Tavaras led the countdown. and after a pause the water began to flow down the concave tower into the small basins out the mouths of those wonderful deco faces … and everyone clapped and clapped.

And Jesse,  I couldn’t believe it, but tears came to my eyes… it was like the stone had been brought to life again.

When we left the fountain was still rimmed with children cooling their feet in the water…what a quintessential pleasure, what a memory  of growing up in the city.

So this is to say thank you so much for making it happen… you and all the people who got behind the idea in so many ways.


-Elizabeth Grossman, Summit Neighbor

Congratulations Jesse and all those involved – it is such a beautiful sight

to see a neighborhood come together.   Your effort have not gone  unnoti

ced….and just think of all the pleasure people will receive in years to

come visiting the fountain and enjoying the park.


-Pat  Zacks, Summit Neighbor

Hi Jesse—-Well  your vision for the fountain paid  off-and big time—Although I never had the opportunity to see it  run  previously, I surely did

at the dedication.

I think you, as well as many of the SNA members worked very hard to make

this day of dedication a reality.  I was happy to be of help to you, in a

small way, as well as to  the SNA – trying to  recruit new members just

today.

I think Dean and his crew could not have done better-and I was happy for

the joint effort that so many people has shown.


Best,

Howie Gladstone, Summit Neighbor

Congrats Jesse. You should be proud. At long last this beauty is shining again. As a Summit resident I want to thank you for what I’m sure was a ton of hard work.


-Craig Borges, Summit Neighbor

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for fountain in Lippitt Park is June 4

Due to scheduling issues, the ribbon-cutting for the Henry Bowen Anthony fountain in Lippitt Park has been moved to June 4 at 11am.  This is even better timing than originally planned, as it coincides with the first day of the farmer’s market in the park for the season.

Among others, Mayor Taveras is expected to speak at this event.  We will also feature a live music performance by Gordon School’s The G-Notes.

Come out and enjoy the (hopefully) nice weather, and celebrate the re-opening of the fountain.  We hope you can make it!

Zoning Variance Denied for Clarke’s Florist Site

Zoning Variance Denied for Clarke’s Florist Site

Report on the March 16 Zoning Variance Hearing

by Summit Neighbor Elva Mathiesen

The drive-thru coffee shop proposed for the Clark’s Flower Shop site on Hope Street was the last item on the agenda.

When the neighbors finished filing into the hearing room, all the seats were full and many people were standing.

The lawyer for the developer proposing the coffee shop (“Brewed Awakenings”) presented and questioned a small army of witnesses, as follows:

The architect of the proposed new building, parking lot, and drive-thru lane; a civil engineer, testifying that the present building has deteriorated beyond repair; a traffic engineer with traffic flow studies, testifying that the drive-thru is not incompatible with current traffic on Hope Street, even at rush hours; a real estate agent, testifying that the new business would not bring down property values; Mr. Schartner, the owner of Schartner Florists, LLC., the current owner of Clark’s, who has owned it for only a few years, testifying that he can’t make a go of the business; and David Levesque, the developer, the owner of several other “Brewed Awakenings” coffee/sandwich shops elsewhere in R.I. which, he says are highly successful.  (He said the one near the Capital Grille downtown had to close because it was dependent on foot traffic, and there was no foot traffic during inclement weather.)

As I listened, it seemed to me that Levesque, the developer, was speaking out of two sides of his mouth:  on the one hand, he insisted repeatedly that his coffee/sandwich shop would be a place to eat, meet people, and feel comfortable staying a while; on the other hand, he said that 40% of his business would be drive-thru.

It seemed to me that Levesque was overly sanguine about how many cars would be “stacked” in the drive-thru lane.   Orders would be placed at one window and picked up at another.  Levesque said that cars would have to wait at the pick-up window no more than 45 seconds, but I wasn’t able to follow his reasoning.

(If one car in the stack wants to turn left on Hope Street, it’s going to be idling a lot longer than 45 seconds, and so will all the cars behind it!)

Throughout the testimony of the developer and his witnesses, I couldn’t help but be struck by how careful they all were to avoid mentioning the day care across the street (1/2 block to the north) and the public elementary school one and a half blocks west.  The traffic engineer made no mention of the fact that during morning rush hour, prime drive-thru coffee time, parents would be parking and dropping off babies and toddlers, and kids would be walking to school.

The traffic engineer admitted that he hadn’t factored in bicycle traffic.

Anticipating one argument of the neighbors against the project, the issue of “intensification” of commercial activity, one of the developer’s witnesses (or the lawyer, or the developer himself, I don’t remember which) said that the stretch of Hope Street between Rochambeau and Olney was a neighborhood “in transition” between residential and commercial.  As evidence for this statement he cited the double- and triple-decker houses lining that part of Hope Street, saying that they were “four-, five-, and six-family houses, and one 7-family house.”  This was news to me!

(The few businesses in this mile of Hope Street have been there since before I came to Providence 44 years ago; and if there are residential buildings with four to seven dwelling units each, I haven’t noticed them.)

Sixty-one people came to the hearing and I estimate that at least half of them testified, all against the project.

A lawyer (hired by a neighbor) and Jesse Polhemus (vice president of the Summit Neighborhood Association) led off, Jesse quoting the Zoning Ordinance’s section on granting variances.   One of the qualifications for being granted a variance is that “intensification” of business activity does not occur.   (Providence’s Comprehensive Plan also forbids intensification of business activity on this segment of the Hope Street corridor.)

Many abutters testified, expressing their concern about the noise and fumes from idling vehicles in the drive-through lane, and the lights in the parking lot.  (“Brewed Awakenings” would stay open until 10 p.m., and until 10:30 on Friday and Saturday nights.)

Some people asked:  why couldn’t the property, already zoned R-3, be subdivided and dwellings put in?  (On the tax rolls, it’s already two lots.)

One person suggested that rather than being razed, the greenhouse should be preserved as a valuable community resource for people growing their own food, especially in this time of rising food prices.

Asher Schofield, who owns Frog & Toad, directly across the street from the Citizens Bank parking lot and drive-thru, and Robert Mathiesen, who lives at 45 Lauriston Street, three houses from the Citizens Bank drive-thru, testified that the Citizens Bank drive-thru is noisy and hazardous.

After the neighbors’ testimony, the lawyer for the developer summarized his arguments and droned on for half an hour, accusing the neighbors of NIMBYism and not buying enough flowers.

In my view, if the coffee shop and drive-thru go in, the 12-foot-high arbor vitaes touted by the architect are not going to shield the abutters from the noise, lights, and fumes.  And, regarding the fumes, one abutter testified that she has an asthmatic child.  In fact, the abutters’ quality of life would deteriorate drastically.

After the lawyer had his say, the developer himself took the floor and harangued us for at least 20 minutes about how his coffee shop would produce jobs (25 – 30, most of them part-time) and generate more tax revenue.  He got very emotional toward the end… but I don’t think his last-ditch appeal changed anyone’s mind.

The Zoning Board of Review’s deliberations began with one member’s stating that he counted 61 people who showed up to testify, the most he’d ever seen at a hearing.

Myrth York, the chairman, held up a stack of letters and a stack of e-mails, each at least one inch thick.  Summarizing them, she said that all expressed opposition to the variance, including letters from our state representative, our state senator, and our councilman.  (She did not mention phone messages.)

In addition to the universal opposition to the project, the Board’s deliberations focused on the issue of “intensification” of commercial activity in that location, which was explicitly discouraged by the neighborhood charettes and forbidden by the Zoning Ordinance and Providence’s Comprehensive Plan.

In the Board’s view, the drive-thru aspect of the project constituted “intensification”.

A motion to deny the variance passed 4 o 1.

A second variance, regarding dimensions of signage, was also denied.  (It became moot when the first variance, to raze Clark’s and build a new building with a drive-thru, was denied.)

Elva Mathiesen

45 Lauriston Street

<elvamath@gmail.com>

Henry Bowen Anthony fountain to flow again

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 By Philip Marcelo

Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE — The historic granite fountain at the head of Blackstone Boulevard will be restored this summer with money from the city, the Summit Neighborhood Association and The Champlin Foundations.Mayor David N. Cicilline’s office said on Monday the Parks Department was recently awarded a $58,900 grant from Champlin. It will be added to about $112,000 the department has allocated for the project and $10,000 that the neighborhood association raised.

The $180,000 project, which will be put out to bid in late February, calls for installing new plumbing, lighting and a water recirculation and filtration system. The fountain has been in disuse since 1982, when the city shut off its water due to rising operating costs, according to city Parks Supt. Robert McMahon.

“We have to assume after 28 years that some of the existing brass and copper piping within the granite fountain structure is deficient … The piping itself is not a significant cost, but the process of dismantling the fountain and putting it back together will be expensive,” he said.

Designed in a modern style by the Providence firm Jackson, Robertson & Adams, the fountain is the centerpiece of Lippitt Park, where Hope Street meets Blackstone Boulevard, near the Pawtucket city line.

It was erected in 1940 in memory of the late Henry Bowen Anthony, a U.S. senator (1859 to 1884), Rhode Island governor (1849-1851), and publisher of The Providence Journal. He died in 1884 at 69.

When it is operational in June, the fountain will join three other public outdoor fountains in Providence: the Bajnotti fountain in Burnside Park (Kennedy Plaza), the DePasquale fountain in DePasquale Plaza (Atwells Avenue) and the Clements fountain in Jacqueline Clements Park (Friendship and Dudley streets).

pmarcelo@projo.com

Gas meter hearing tomorrow, Weds, Feb. 11, 4:30

This just in from our friends at West Broadway Neighborhood Association,which has spearheaded work to prevent National Grid from forceably installing ugly exterior gas meters on the fronts of our homes. If you care about your curb appeal, check this out.

Hello fellow neighborhood groups,
I plan to call you all individually but in the interest of the time sentivity of this issue, I send this email first.

Representative Costantino has just informed the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) that THIS Wednesday, 2/11/09, at 4:30PM in Room 203, RI State House, the House Committee on Corporations will hold a hearing on H5088. See the bill here. This is the legislation to protect Rhode Island homes against visually-intrusive exterior gas meter locations. Many of you are aware of this issue and the damage it can do to historic and non-historic homes in every corner of RI (National Grid’s plans for gas meter relocation applies to all of RI and goes beyond the West Side of Providence). Undoubtedly, National Grid will be there in full force with lawyers et all, which makes it all the more imperative that the people of RI bring out a larger crowd to speak to the importance of passing this legislation.

We appreciate that you share our concern for this issue and ask that you:
1) come on Wednesday and testify
2) sent an email to your friends, neighbors, and other groups who would care about this issue.
Representative Costantino emphasized the importance of having a large crowd of people from throughout the state.
3) let us know if you plan on coming

For your information the legislation is attached. Having someone from your organization at the hearing to testify would make an impact. Thank you!
Kari Lang and Jessica Jennings

House Committee on Corporations Hearing on H5008, the legislation to protect historic homes against visually intrustive exterior gas meter locations
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 4:30 PM
RI State House, Room 203
Please help spread the word across Rhode Island! RIers come out to testify in favor of H5088

Kari Lang, WBNA
Email: Kari@wbna.org

Historic Preservation Faces Threat

The historic tax credit program that has been so instrumental in both preserving Providence’s historic buildings and generating 100’s of millions of dollars of economic development is under threat of repeal.
The link below from Grow Smart RI provides more information about the program and how to take action to help preserve its future:

http://www.growsmartri.com/special%20pages/taxcredit021706.html

Regards,
Jack Templin