December 2016 Neighborhood News

Find out what's going on in your neighborhood

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

Neighborhood News is a space that East Side Monthly makes available to community organizations free of charge. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of this publication.

Summit Neighborhood Association
Annual Cook-off Features Pumpkin, Rain

In a Halloween near-emulation of the three witches of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the SNA’s sixth annual cook-off met again in the rain, although without the lightning and thunder.

But the traditional foul weather did not deter about 45 people from gathering on October 27 in Seven Stars on Hope Street to sample 15 dishes made by neighborhood residents using pumpkin as a common ingredient.

And in keeping with the holiday spirit, there was also a parade of children in costumes ranging from a hot dog to a suffragette, although some of the smaller participants seemed more interested in chasing the balloons provided by Hope Street merchant Kim Clark of Rhody Craft than marching.

After being welcomed by SNA President Dean Weinberg and tasting the various pumpkin offerings – plus a sampling of fine oils from Olive del Mondo, another Hope Street merchant – participants voted for their favorite dishes. The results were tabulated by SNA board member Emily Spitzman and organization member Sandy Kohring, who collaborated in organizing the event. First prize, a $30 gift certificate to Seven Stars, went to Jasper Summers for pumpkin tiramisu; second prize, a $20 gift certificate to Rhody Craft, went to Sri Mitta for pumpkin curry; third prize was a tie, with $15 gift certificates to Olive del Mondo going to Ethan Itkin for cinnamon pumpkin rolls with cream cheese frosting and Gailia Rutan for pumpkin cake roll.

The recipes for the winning dishes will be posted on the SNA website as they become available. Some of the chefs experimented and are trying to remember what they did.

However, their example of inventiveness bodes well for the delicacies expected in next year’s competition.

Holiday Caroling To Benefit Food Pantry
The annual neighborhood holiday songfest – Caroling For A Cause – is scheduled for December 11. The plan is to meet at Miriam Hospital at 4pm for hot chocolate and cookies plus some Hanukkah and nonsectarian songs, then head out into the community. There will be song leaders and songbooks provided, but participants are urged to bring flashlights. Along the way, residents will be asked to donate cash or jars of peanut butter to benefit the local food pantry at St. Raymond’s church. The festivities are open to everyone, including families with small children, and are expected to be completed by 6:30pm. The area covered will generally be Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets between Summit and Bayard. For further information, go to SNA’s website,, or to our page and group on Facebook.

Ghosts Walk In North Burial Ground
Ghosts walked amid the gravestones along North Main Street two days before Halloween as re-enactors talked about their characters’ lives – and deaths.

It was part of a continuing project by the Friends of the North Burial Ground and Randall Park, in collaboration with Rhode Island College to raise awareness of the historical and recreational aspects of the area.

RIC students and professors led nearly 100 people around the grounds to meet with, among others, Sarah Helen Power Whitman, a poet and girlfriend of Edgar Allan Poe, and Samuel Whipple, who may have been murdered so his land could be taken and ultimately became the cemetery. For more information, go to

Residents Invited To Directors Meetings
The SNA board of directors meets at 7pm on the third Monday of every month in the cafeteria of Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Avenue. The sessions are open and neighborhood residents are encouraged to attend. Contact us at Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence RI 02940. 489-7078,, –Kerry Kohring

Fox Point Neighborhood Association
Events this Month

FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm, January 9, 2017 at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Community Room, 455 Wickenden Street. The public is welcome.

Gateway Issue Gains Momentum
FPNA’s Save Gano Gateway Committee has been securing support for the original 2011 design of the gateway from several neighborhood associations prior to its early November meeting with officials of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RIDOT.

At press time, the College Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA) and the Jewelry District Association (JDA) had both passed resolutions supporting the 2011 design and written letters to RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and Governor Gina Raimondo. The Downtown Neighborhood Association also has expressed their support.

The original design would eliminate the 90-degree turn at the India-Gano Street Intersection with the construction of a wider road with turn lanes for better I-195 access. In October, RIDOT discounted its original plan by issuing a “Refined Plan,” which not only failed to address the traffic flow problem, but also removed the installation of lighted and landscaped parking lots under the Washington Bridge.

“The original design was necessary to improve traffic flow between Gano Street and the I-195 interchanges,” CHNA President Josh Eiesen concurred.

In his letter, Eisen also agreed that the additional parking lots under the Washington Bridge would “not only relieve gridlock at India Point Park events, but also improve quality of life through greater access and recreational use of the ferry, bikeways and park.”

Jewelry District Cites CityWalk

JDA President Arthur Salisbury pointed to CityWalk, the organization’s major advocacy project, to explain the original purpose of the gateway. “For many future CityWalk participants, the trail of historical locations and attractions along the proposed eight-neighborhood, pedestrian-bikeway route would begin here in Fox Point,” he advised. “The 2011 design not only assists motorists arriving at the starting point, but also adds much needed parking for all of these amenities.”

Save Gano Gateway Co-chair Sharon Steele says the East Side has moved beyond a question of comparing the two plans to an examination of possible funding sources. “We’re going into this DOT meeting to make sure that the remaining $1 million in the budget be used for a complete realignment of Gano and India streets.”

The gateway committee presented its case at FPNA’s Fall Membership Meeting amidst complaints from residents about Gano Street traffic flow and safety problems. One member reported waiting in Gano Street traffic at noontime for over 45 minutes, while a jogger expressed fear regarding the bridge’s insufficient lighting.

The neighborhood has been looking forward to a transformation of this unsafe eyesore since the I-195 eastbound entranceway at the location was removed in 2007. “Brown would love to move forward with its landscaping plans that requires the removal of a mountainous berm that still looms over the Marsden Boathouse,” Steele added.

“We believe that there is some flexibility in RIDOT’s spending in light of the widespread support for the 2011 design from the East Side and beyond,” committee member Sam Bell said. “We’ve also been working with Gayle and Chris to put in some funding legislation for the 2011 design.”

Representative Chris Blazeweski later confirmed at the meeting that he and State Senator Gayle Goldin would introduce funding legislation to complete the last construction project of the I-195 system.

Mayor Jorge Elorza, who also endorsed Save Gano Gateway, urged residents to call 311 to report graffiti even though it is difficult to remove in extreme temperatures. The mayor also said reporting it to the police department helps them to identify a signature and arrest the perpetrators.

FPNA Seeks New Executive Secretary
Since John Rousseau resigned his executive secretary duties at FPNA’s September board meeting for more time to “enjoy Fox Point,” the organization has been accepting resumes for his replacement. Rousseau, who will continue to service his advertising clients, says he will continue as co-chair of the gateway committee.

“We’re looking for another neighbor, who has a stake in the community, has, experience in public policy, communications skills and public relations strategy,” PFNA board member and selection committee chair Alissa Peterson says.
If you are interested in this challenging position, (which is never boring), contact Alissa Peterson at Fox Point Neighborhood Association, PO Box 603177, Providence, RI 02906. 270-7121,,
–John Rousseau

Blackstone Parks Conservancy
Blackstone Parks Quiz
Q. What are the Blackstone Parks?
A. Two historic parks on the East Side: the 1.6-mile linear Blackstone Boulevard and, overlooking the Seekonk River, the 45-acre woodland, which was once part of Moses Brown’s farm.

Q. Who owns the Blackstone Parks?
A. The city of Providence – all of us.

Q. Who uses them?
A. Thousands of people of all ages.

Q: Why does the Boulevard look so clean?
A: While many people put trash in the barrels, others throw it on the ground. There would be a garbage mountain on the Boulevard were it not for Gale Aronson and Carol Delaney, who pick up trash on their morning walks.

Q: Okay, but who actually manages the Blackstone Parks?
A: We at the Blackstone Parks
Conservancy manage them in partnership with the Providence Parks Department.

Q. What is the Parks Department’s role?
A. They provide the mowing and pruning as well as forestry and other services and they have final say on all of our projects.
Ever-dwindling staff and shrinking funds limit what the department can do. They maintain more than 100 parks. Right now, they are recovering from the August fire that destroyed their equipment shed and many records.

Q. So what does the Conservancy do?
A. Our mission is to provide stewardship – to protect and nurture – the two Blackstone parks. To carry out our mission we steep ourselves in ecological knowledge and run a sturdy educational program to groom future stewards. We network with other non-profits and city and state agencies.

We assess needs – a low-hanging tree limb on the Boulevard path, for example – and alert the Parks Department. But our main job is to plan and manage major maintenance projects. Our Boulevard and Park committees dig into challenges like stormwater and invasive plants.

We then initiate grant applications to environmental agencies. Grants have enabled us to upgrade the trails in the woodland and install thousands of new plants to hold topsoil on the slopes in one small area. We also raise funds from members to buy, plant, mulch and water saplings on the Boulevard.

The work the Conservancy does – from designing a long-term plan for the Boulevard path’s repair to fixing the fences that protect thousands of plants from trampling the Blackstone Park – cannot be done by the City working alone. Nor could we do what we do without the city’s guidance and practical help.

Q. How does the Conservancy do all this?
A. Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers. We have a core of long-term volunteers – a board; two committees who plan and carry out work projects; plus an education committee that creates and runs educational programs.

For routine maintenance in the 45-acre Conservation District we find short-term volunteers from local schools, corporations and religious institutions. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) brings valuable carpentry skills and energy to the woodland. This year we initiated Park-Keeping, a drop-by maintenance session in the early evening. Working outdoors is more fun than going to the gym.

Wheeler School Ninth Graders Come to the Rescue

A dozen plus Wheeler School ninth graders with two adults arrived just in time in October to water new replacement plants on Boathouse Trail and move heavy logs. They heard an engaging lecture on storm water from Education Chair Rick Richards. But perhaps the most important lesson came from seeing that they could make a difference in a short time, not the least of which was hauling three gallon jugs of water (weighing 8.4 pounds each) up a steep trail for each of 30 newly installed plants. Kindly send Eastside Marketplace receipts to the address below: Blackstone Parks Conservancy, PO Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014,, –Jane Peterson

College Hill Neighborhood Association
CHNA Holiday Party set for December 5
The holiday season is at hand, and the College Hill Neighborhood Association would like to invite all our neighbors to our annual Holiday Party on December 5 from 5:30-8pm at the Lippitt House Museum on the corner of Angell and Hope. Not only will the mansion be all decked out in its best Christmas finery, there will be food, drink and plenty of conversation as well. CHNA will also provide what we think will be a useful update on all things College Hill, both past and present, and look forward to your input. The event is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there.

CHNA Supports Restoration of Full Gano Gateway Plans
After listening to a presentation from the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, the CHNA has a sent a letter in support of their efforts to persuade the Department of Transportation (DOT) to redirect funds from the current Gano Gateway project so as to accelerate the construction of the bridge linking the East Side to the Jewelry District.

Despite the amount of dislocation that has already affected this area of Fox Point, the scaled down plan would still not alleviate the dangerous traffic turns on Gano or Wickenden and emasculates the 2011 plan that had been approved by all parties concerned. We see the DOT’s decision as shortsighted and are in support of the FPNA and other concerned citizens who are lobbying to find alternative sources of funding to finish the project as initially planned.

Plans to Improve Prospect
Terrace Continue
Momentum is continuing on a CHNA initiative to begin raising money and working with the City to bring some much needed improvements and beautification efforts to Prospect Terrace. A film has been produced where about half a dozen residents plead their case for the importance of this initiative. Initial plans call for the implementation of a major crowdsourcing effort that will begin later this month. For more information or to get involved, please call Barry Fain at 751-7078.

Board Supports Paolino’s Downcity Plans in Regards to Panhandlers
In his capacity as head of the Downtown Management District, former Mayor Joseph Paolino spoke to the CHNA seeking support for their efforts to more aggressively address the ongoing problem of panhandling in the downtown area. We added our own concerns about the seemingly endless solicitations along North Main Street, which we feel endangers both motorists and the panhandlers themselves who often solicit from median strips that are dangerously thin. The board voted to support the former mayor’s position and urge Mr. Paolino and Mayor Elorza to find a resolution that is both humane and practical.

Additional presentations were made by PPS Director Brent Runyan on a possible new historic district designation for parts of Fox Point, Councilman Sam Zurier who shared frustrations of the lack of public hearings on issues he feels are important to our residents and Michael Borg, the City’s Director of Emergency Management, who shared some of his initial thoughts on preparing for this year’s winter.

Thayer Street Updates
Just in time for Holiday shopping, we are thrilled to announce that Andreas Restaurant, Berks Shoes & Clothing and Kabob and Curry will validate your day of parking (park for free) at the commercial parking lot on Brook Street (entrance on Cushing) with purchase at their business. Check directly with each business for details. 

Along with free validated parking at key locations, Thayer Street merchants will be decorating their storefronts and offering special discounts throughout the holiday season. Remember… our Bicycle Benefits Program discounts are good all year round. Check our website for details and locations:

If you’ve taken a walk down Thayer lately you will have noticed lots of activity at several empty store locations. Along with other new businesses that we have reported are coming to Thayer Street in the coming months, we will also be welcoming the following three new businesses: Den Den Restaurant to Angell Street (old Spats location), WOW BBQ (across the street at 183 Angell) and Tropical Smoothie Cafe (272 Thayer, 2nd floor). 

Happy Holidays
The CHNA would like to wish all the residents of our community a most happy holiday season. As the year starts to wind down, we also hope you might even consider getting involved with CHNA as one of your 2017 New Year’s resolutions. We’d love to have you join us. For membership information, please contact us at one of the following: College Hill Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906. 633-5230,,

Wayland Square
Forthcoming Meetings

December 6 from 5:30- 7pm, McBride’s Pub, 161 Wayland Avenue, (between West Elm on Wayland and Medway, and Drabble-Sherman-Monahan funeral home on Wayland and Waterman), second meeting of the new, embryonic Wayland Square Neighborhood Association.

January 25, 2017, from 7-8:45pm, Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street (at Elmgrove Avenue, next to CVS). Tentative date for the first 2017 meeting of the ongoing Neighborhood Discussion Group. This may very well change, so please check this column in the next (January) East Side Monthly.

October’s Meetings
There were similar meetings in October.
In early October, about 20 showed up for the inaugural meeting of the Wayland Square Neighborhood Association at McBride’s. Most of the discussion was about different neighborhood concerns – graffiti, vegetation or utilities’ current repaving and repiping projects – and what a more-organized group might be able to do about them.

At the end of the month, there was an interesting forum at Books on the Square for the candidates for State Representative. Just under 20 members of the public attended.

Because of a sudden foot injury, Democratic Representative Chris Blazejewiski’s Republican opponent (Mark Teoli) could not appear, so we first heard and questioned the sitting representative for about 20 minutes.

Edith Ajello (D), the Representative for the other side of the Square then had more of a formal debate with an independent challenger, Ray Mathieu. There was an informative exchange about many topics raised by the audience, the moderator and the candidates themselves, including state government leadership, questions on the November ballot, the state budget and state laws.

Many thanks to Hollie Courage and Liz Head, the two unofficial volunteer timekeepers from the League of Women Voters, and to Andrew and Katie from the bookstore staff. Although this forum took much work, it seemed to proceed very smoothly.

Commercial Note
The large glass-fronted store at the corner of Angell and Wayland, formerly home to Comina (now further down Wayland) and most recently of Alex and Ani jewelers is now completely vacant.

When it was vacant for months and even years after the last recession, it left a huge gaping hole right in the middle of Wayland Square, which discouraged both customers and businesses. A new active tenant would help keep the Square alive.

New Facebook Group
If you belong to Facebook, visit (or join) our brand-new Facebook page at

More Information
Check our Yahoo! Group’s public message board (below) to stay abreast of current local events and issues. Or join the group to receive regular announcements by e-mail, including select notices of neighborhood meetings, civic affairs and cultural events. - David Kolsky

Waterman Street Dog Park
With the Waterman Street Dog Park now open, more and more neighbors and their furry friends are starting to discover the park. But the work of the Dog Park Association isn’t over. We’re committed to building a community park for the whole neighborhood, and we’re working on a range of improvements to the park, including a kiosk, invasive species management, benches, a water fountain and stronger trails.

We’re still meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at Books on the Square, and new members are always welcome. If you want to help build the park, come stop by. Waterman Street Dog Park Association., –Samuel Bell

This story was originally posted by East Side Monthly Magazine. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.


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