Neighborhood News

February Neighborhood News

See what's happening in your East Side neighborhood

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

Summit Neighborhood Association

Caroling For A Cause Brings Neighbors Together in Spirit of the Season
About 25 adults and children braved unseasonably balmy weather on Sunday, December 13, to go Caroling For A Cause in the neighborhood.

Covering the area of Bayard Street to Summit Avenue and Fourth to Sixth Streets, the group serenaded residents with traditional Christmas carols – plus one requested rendition of “The Hannukkah Song” – and were rewarded with jars of peanut butter or cash donations to benefit the food pantry of St. Raymond’s Church. In all, $100 and 24 jars of peanut butter were collected.

The festive evening began at 4pm in the foyer of event partner Miriam Hospital for hot drinks and cookies. Then, since it was the Hannukkah season, there was a short explanation of the Jewish Festival of Lights and a demonstration of a menorah by Monica Anderson, the hospital’s director of community relations, with a little help from some Jewish members of SNA.

Then it was off into the night, laughing all the way, under the leadership of Jon Howard, a former SNA president. As the singers got to houses whose porch lights were lit, doorbells were rung, residents came out and carols were sung, led by members Jeff Davis and Kurt Anderson. Younger singers scampered up the steps to collect the donations from the audiences and pile the jars into the back of an accompanying car. New songbooks were used this year, compiled by a committee of Deb Mero and Ellen Santaniello.

The last carols were sung on Fourth Street, almost to the Hope Street commercial section, where many restaurants beckoned. As the singers dispersed, there were vows to “See you next year!”

Water Line Delays Community Gardens
Installation of a water line to the Summit Avenue tot lot, which is the first step in the construction of community gardens there, is being held up by unacceptably high contractor bids.

According to Wendy Nilsson, the superintendent of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, the first bid came in at $17,500, significantly above the architect’s estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. The contract was put out again and a bid of $22,000 was returned. Deputy Superintendent Brian Byrnes said contractors were busy prior to winter and few bid on the project, so it is being wrapped into other jobs to attract a more reasonable price. He also said the City is considering other options, including finding a master plumber with experience laying water lines.

Nilsson assured the SNA that the project, which is only one part of a revitalization of the whole park, has not been forgotten.

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 Ave. Although the December meeting was cancelled because of the holiday, the regular schedule has been reinstated. The sessions are open and neighborhood residents are encouraged to attend. Minutes of all board meetings are posted on the SNA website at www.sna.providence.ri.us under “Meetings and Agendas.” Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence RI 02940. 489-7078, www.sna.providence.ri.us, sna@sna.providence.ri.us. –Kerry Kohring

Wayland Square

Neighborhood Discussion Group at Books on the Square
Wednesdays, January 27 and February 24, from 7 to 8:45pm, Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street at Elmgrove Ave., next to CVS. Free and open to all.
Weather permitting, these will be our first meetings since last October.
(The bookstore will be closed, and our meeting cancelled or postponed, if the City should declare a parking ban that day. Check our Yahoo! Group’s website listed below for any updates.)

Commercial Notes
There have been several notable changes in local businesses over the last few months.

Mrs. Robinson has moved up the street to 180 Wayland Avenue, on one side of the Salted Slate (formerly Farmstead), and Wendy Brown Home has moved into 190 Wayland on the other side, nearer Medway. Both were long established at other Wayland Avenue sites.

Diagonally opposite, on Wayland and Medway (next to the Running Company in the former Runcible Spoon/Opulent Owl/CVS building) will be a branch of Pasta Beach, an Italian restaurant already present in Boston and Newport.

A block further down, on Waterman and Wayland, the former United Way/FM insurance building is finally renovated and occupied.

Moe’s Southwest Grill and Massage Envy had already opened for business as I write this at the New Year, while Washington Trust, a southern Rhode Island bank that has been in business since 1800, was finishing work on a new branch. The bank’s drive-in window will be one story below Wayland Avenue next to the parking lot, while the upper level will house walk-in services.

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 email, including select notices of neighborhood meetings, civic affairs and cultural events. groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandsquare –David Kolsky

Waterman Street Dog Park

The Fence is Up!
The Waterman Street Dog Park has crossed a major milestone. The perimeter fence is now up! The fence, which lets dogs roam free, is one of the most important parts of the park. This is an exciting step that means the park is almost here.

The park is almost completed, and it’s slated for a grand opening in the spring. After the snow melts, the Dog Park Association will be working with the Parks Department on tree plantings, clearing paths and spring cleanings. Soon, our neighborhood will have a state of the art dog park for the whole community to enjoy. Waterman Street Dog Park Association. watermanstdogpark@gmail.org, www.watermanstdogpark.org –Samuel Bell

Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Secrets of the Blackstone Woodland
When you see the photograph of little girls hugging a large tree in the Blackstone Parks Conservation District, one thing is obvious: They get it. No one has to tell them how precious and exciting nature is.

This Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) outing of pre-schoolers to the park overlooking the Upper Narragansett Bay, one of many programs designed to expose children and adults of all ages to the delights contained in these parks, took place in early summer. The last warm-weather program was in early November.

Many people explore the Conservation District in their own ways. A mother who regularly brings her three pre-adolescent children to explore the park, studied grubs living under a log one day last fall, then carefully rolled it back to its original position. Birders come often, as do walkers and runners. Occasionally artists will set up easels at York Pond.

For the Blackstone parks to thrive, more people need to embrace them, which can begin with asking questions. Much that has happened and is happening in the woods and water is hidden from view.

Extraordinary discoveries pertaining to the complexity of life may be in the offing. The BPC hopes that some of the children exposed to nature in these parks will eventually help find answers to questions such as: What happened in here millennia ago? How was this land used in the 1700s and 1800s? What is happening now under the surface? Perhaps they will help crack the secrets of the new frontier, the. By the time they grow up, scientists may know if it’s true that groups of trees communicate and protect each other.

As humans always have, we depend on nature for survival. But now exploitation of resources is out of balance. Will today’s children help right that imbalance?
The BPC is always exploring ideas for the future and experimenting with ways to protect fragile land – and thus the bay – from the effects of erosion. Invasive plant species are receiving special attention as well.

We know surprisingly little about the land where Blackstone Park sits. We do know that most of the ancient forests of Rhode Island were cut down in early Colonial days and shipped to England. Thus little old-growth forest remains. But we don’t yet know what Moses Brown saw while riding out from his country house (at what would later become Wayland Square).

Learning more about the use of Moses Brown’s land could affect our understanding of the small part of it that was deeded to the City as parkland in 1866. These are questions we hope one day to be able to answer with the help of experts able to analyze former land use or researchers willing to explore records at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

One thing we do know is that all our questions start with wonder – wonder and a kind of delight in the two parks that have been passed down to Providence over more than 150 years, public spaces that the Blackstone Parks Conservancy has the honor to help the Providence Parks Department manage. If we ever need reminding, all we need do is to watch the children in the woods.

Healthy Urban Green Space for All!

More and more people are checking out our website (see below) and Facebook page. Please keep looking, and send in those East Side Marketplace receipts. Blackstone Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014, www.blackstoneparksconservancy.org, janeannpeterson@gmail.com
–Jane Peterson


College Hill Neighborhood Association

Officers Elected for 2016
After our successful Holiday Party in December at the Lippitt House, the College Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA) reelected its current slate of officers for the upcoming year. The officers will be Josh Eisen (president), Heidi Heifitz (vice president), Sara Bradford (treasurer) and Anthony Petrocci (secretary). At the same meeting, Brown University presented the amendments it will be proposing to the Providence Plan that will affect its five year master plan. The three major elements will be a continuation of its successful program to rehab some of its unused building so they can be sold to faculty members and returned to the City tax rolls, a plan to resurface its ballfields along Arlington Avenue and, most significantly, a proposal to tear down seven houses it recently purchased along Brook Street near Wheeler that will create a temporary surface parking area that within three to five years will be repurposed for residential or administrative uses. If you’d like to inspect the plans or learn more about the projects check the University’s website.

As we begin the New Year, the Board is actively encouraging any College Hill resident who has an interest in becoming more active in preserving and enhancing the quality of life in our community to consider volunteering to be on our Board of Directors. There are also opportunities to get involved in an exciting new initiative to work with the City to help upgrade the design and landscaping of Prospect Terrace which is such an iconic part of our neighborhood. College Hill was recently named the fourth most beautiful residential area in the country by the lifestyle website Thrillist.com and with your help perhaps we can move up to number three!

News from Thayer Street
The walk up and down Thayer Street has become less crowded, more attractive and technologically cutting edge. Thirty-four black traditional trash containers have been replaced with the installation of twenty Solar Compacting BigBelly Trash units funded by the Thayer Street District Management Authority (TSDMA). If you are thinking of driving to Thayer to see a movie, have lunch or dinner and doing a bit of shopping, you will soon discover that the Thayer Street Merchants were successful in getting the City of Providence to adjust their parking meters, changing Thayer Street from two hours to three hours and Meeting Street from three hours to four hours.

Thayer Street now has four new businesses in the district: Francesca’s, the Tech Repair Shop, the Mighty Sharp Barber Shop and the Sushi Cafe and Bar. We are happy to welcome them to the neighborhood. And finally the Avon Cinema and the Wheeler School be hosting the annual Providence Children’s Film Festival coming to College Hill from February 6 to February 21. Information on the film festival can be found on the front page of www.thayerstreetdistrict.com.

Come Join Us
And finally as you continue to whittle down those New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, we urge you to consider being a more active member of the CHNA. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, to improve the quality of life of our community and to have some fun in the process. Just go to our website and all will be explained. College Hill Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906. 633-5230, www.collegehillna.com, chna@collegehillna.com –Barry Fain


Fox Point Neighborhood Association

Events this Month
FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm, Monday, February 8 at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Community Room, 455 Wickenden Street.

FPNA Targets Wickenden Improvements
FPNA Board member Vincent Scorziello, who also is president of the Wickenden Area Merchants Association, WAMA, will be exploring ways to improve the shopping area, in particular its lighting. “We will need to work with the City and others to find funding sources for a long-term project like lighting Wickenden Street,” Scorziello said. “Of course, WAMA would wish for the kind of lights found on Westminster Street in downcity.”

Councilman Seth Yurdin attended FPNA’s December board meeting and suggested starting to work with the Providence Department of Planning & Development, before contacting other agencies.

As it so happens, FPNA’s January meeting (which was after this publishing deadline) will be attended by Christopher Ise, a principal planner with the planning department. “FPNA and WAMA will be brainstorming ideas with him to see what might be possible to help revitalize Wickenden Street,” Scorziello said.

The City has recently developed a Neighborhood Planning Liaison Program by assigning planners to be liaisons to specific neighborhoods, Ise wrote in an e-mail to FPNA. “Our goals are to gain a better understanding of community needs, solve neighborhood issues, build on opportunities and improve communication between Planning and neighborhood residents, businesses and other stakeholders.”

“Our first goal of this program is to work with neighborhood stakeholders to update the action plan for your area to make sure that it reflects your current ideas and needs,” Ise added. “Once the action items are updated, we can help to identify funding to complete specific projects, build on opportunities that exist and resolve other issues as needed.”

Looking for ideas, Scorziello told FPNA about a November meeting that he attended of the Hope Street Merchants Association. “They unveiled and explained their lighting project called Off-Grid on Hope Street,” he explained.

“They worked with Jonathan Harris, an engineering professor/industrial designer at Johnson and Wales, to design custom, off the grid solar-powered lights,” Scorziello said.  “Their goals were not necessarily to light the street, but to tie the street together with an ‘identity piece,’ work with local designers and materials.”

“After about two years they have the design finalized and are starting to fundraise for the project, which will cost $150,000 to have the lights made, installed and maintained for five years of maintenance,” he continued.

“Unfortunately, their solar solution would not work for Wickenden Street, which is a narrow, tree-lined street,” Scorziello said. “Our goal is to actually provide more light on the sidewalks, which is insufficient, at present.”

If you are interested in working on improving Wickenden Street, contact fpna@cox.net. Scorziello, who will be leading advocacy efforts as liaison between the two organizations, needs the talent of someone in seeking funding grants.

Worst Winter Remembered…
“Living in Fox Point during last winter was transportationally challenging, to say the least,” FPNA Vice President Daisy Schnepel said. “Our streets are narrow enough and were further restricted because only single lanes were plowed on side streets.”

“It was impossible for two cars to pass easily,” she continued. “Oftentimes it necessitated backing up to allow another car to get through.” Extra travel time always had to be added to any venture out, she said. “Even with overnight parking restrictions, the City was unable to adequately plow the streets before the parking bans were lifted.”

In a meeting with all neighborhood associations, Mayor Elorza introduced Adolfo Bailon as the Director of the Mayor’s Center for City Services, MCCS, to coordinate response to citizen complaints involving all city departments. While PROVCONNEX, www.providenceri.com/provconnex is a good place to start, MCCS, stands ready to ensure that complaints do not “get lost in the process.” He can be reached at 401-421-2489, Ext. 5527, and abailon@providenceri.gov. Also introduced were Grace Diaz, MCCS Senior Advisor on Community Relations and Alexandra Batista, MCCS Community Relations Representative.

FPNA Donates to PTO Project
FPNA’s Board voted to donate $300 to the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School to help pay for a snow blower for Freddie Bucci, lead custodian. The effort to supply the snow blower was initiated by the school and the Parent Teacher Organization, PTO. A spokesman for the PTO said the city was quite slow to respond last year, causing the custodian an unreasonable amount of work removing the snow. “It is a token of appreciation of his work that will make his job easier and safer for those walking in and around the school,” PTO Board Member Tomoko Shibusawa said. Fox Point Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 603177, Providence, RI 02906. 270-7121, www.fpna.net, fpna@cox.net
–John Rousseau

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

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