Neighborhood News August 2017

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

Second Phase Coming in Summit Park
Now that the community gardens are in place at the Summit Avenue Park, the city is prepared to move ahead with Phase Two of the renovations.

That’s the message that Parks Department Superintendent Wendy Nilsson and landscape architect Megan Gardner brought to a public meeting sponsored by SNA on June 12 in the park.
Speaking with about 20 people gathered in the playground area, the two described the specific changes included in the city’s plan, focusing on safety and accessibility for all ages, as well as the procedures needed to implement them (visit SNA’s website for a complete list of the renovations and a diagram of the layout).

The cost of the new renovations was put at about $30,000 and will be met by about $12,000 in grant money from Miriam Hospital that SNA is holding, plus city funds augmented by local fundraising. Some of the improvements in the original renovation plan proved to be too expensive, Nilsson said.

A new sign will be installed with the name of the park and Parks Department contact information, plus a new bulletin board may be constructed.

The project is designed to be completed by the end of summer, but the park will not be closed during the work, with just certain areas temporarily cordoned off. Nilsson encouraged residents to contact the Parks Department with suggestions or questions.

Dangers of Lippitt Fountain Emphasized
City Parks Department Superintendent Wendy Nilsson says she strongly reminded residents that the fountain in Lippitt Park is strictly off limits because of the danger of playing in it.

“Parents were putting their kids into the water” and ignoring warnings by workers that they had just “shocked” the fountain with a toxic chemical – chlorine – to clean it, she said. In addition, the structure is made of granite, which is extremely slippery when wet, she added.

Nilsson spoke to about a dozen residents June 13 at a public forum at Summit Commons sponsored by SNA. The meeting was called because of a storm of discussion on social media sparked by Nilsson’s request that SNA disseminate her warning about people being banned from getting into the fountain. Comments ranged from preserving the integrity of the historic Henry Bowen Anthony fountain at all costs to tearing it out and replacing it with a splash feature.

The parks superintendent and her crew chief, Joseph Wojtanowski, explained that fountains in parks citywide accumulated all kinds of natural and human waste – including soiled diapers – and had to be cleaned every few days. He said the Lippitt fountain was monitored by park personnel but asked for park users to alert his department if they noticed anything wrong. The chemicals used dissipate in a few hours, Wojtanowski said, but the fountain is not designed for people and is still not safe to climb into.

Nilsson said the cost of installing a splash feature in the park would be about $250,000 and there is no budget for that, especially since there are water facilities in the Billy Taylor park just a few minutes away. She said residents near other parks had been innovative in using inflatable kiddie pools to “get kids wet” during hot days.

She said her department is developing an online tool that describes the features of all the city’s parks and is working on redesigning them using more natural materials while maintaining safety. The resource is available at… and a parks locator is available here.

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. Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence RI 02940. 489-7078,, –Kerry Kohring

Fox Point Neighborhood Association

Day of Music
On the evening of the summer solstice in June, neighbors came together to celebrate the Day of Music, a free event that took place in 750 cities and 120 countries worldwide. “Musicians of all skill levels and genres took to the streets to fill cities and neighborhoods with free, live music,” said neighborhood organizer Bruce Millard.

This year, Rhode Island joined as the 39th U.S. state to participate, and the lineup included a full evening of music in Fox Point. Neighbors brought their beach chairs to George M. Cohan Square, where they heard Sam Gavish play accordion world music, local band The Mighty Good Boys play acoustic bluegrass, the duo Junior Beat on bass and drums, Guyde Lombari on Italian accordion, and covers by B.E Kittell. “It was great!” said one neighbor.

New Bike Path at Gano Street
In early summer, the Blackstone River Bike Path opened a new section of pathway that reroutes bicyclists and pedestrians off of Gano Street, toward the Seekonk River. “We walked the new bike path last weekend, and it is really lovely!” said one neighbor. “The design, with wood fencing and new landscaping makes this extension of the bike trail into a great neighborhood amenity.” The FPNA looks forward to the completion of the connection from Gano Street to the East Bay Bike Path.

Ferry to Newport
The Providence-Newport Ferry operates from India Street in India Point Park, within walking distance for many Fox Point residents. The Ferry had a banner debut season last year. GoLocal Prov pointed out, however, that the low fares, $10 one-way from Providence to Newport for regular adult riders, are only possible because of a heavy federal subsidy. “For a couple to go back and forth to Newport, taxpayers are giving them an almost $80 benefit,” said House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan to GoLocal. “They’re paying $40, but the true cost is close to $120. I certainly hope they’re buying a lot [in Newport]. It’s a fun ride, but I’m not sure that it’s an economic benefit.”

The 3-year subsidy, set to expire after next year, will be evaluated following the 2017 season. “The ferry may not be around forever,” said one Fox Point neighbor, “but for Fox Pointers it is a walk away and there are expanded hours. It’s a good summer excursion and a chance to go to Newport for the day.”
Events This Month
Board Meeting, August 14. Please join us at our monthly FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm, in the Community Room of the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, 455 Wickenden Street. Agenda to follow via our twice-monthly newsletter, FPNA News (sign up at The public is welcome.
Meet Up With Us! Please join us for drinks and casual conversation at the next FPNA Meet-Up. Neighbors will gather to share thoughts and brainstorm ideas for the neighborhood. Date TBD, usually the third Monday or Tuesday of the month at 7pm, at The Point Tavern. Check our FPNA News for more. All are welcome.

The Fox Point Neighborhood Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Fox Point and protecting its historic integrity and resources. The FPNA speaks out on neighborhood issues and builds community through local events. Please sign up for our twice-monthly newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and join us at a monthly board meeting.
Fox Point Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2315, Providence, RI 02906,, –Amy Mendillo

Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association
Resident gardener Emily Coble and the CHW Green Team are in full swing, with their first full growing season all ready for harvesting. There are eleven beds at Billy Taylor Park and four beds at Vincent Brown Recreation Center, along with a new fruit garden planted with the help of Catherine Mardosa of the Providence Parks Department, including two cherry trees, nineteen blueberry bushes, three raspberry bushes and (a partridge in) four pear trees. The Grow and Share Program is open to all, so come on out and share in the battle against the thorns, thistle and weeds – even some poison ivy – and reap the rewards! Garden Hours are Tuesdays 4–7pm, Wednesdays 11–2pm, and Saturdays 12–3pm.

The Green Team welcomes Youth in Action summer volunteers sponsored by RI Ground Works, which will get underway July 13 and continue for six weeks. Thanks for the help. Andrew Cook from Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT), along with MHNA/CHW worker Toni-Marie Walmsley, will be hosting the Bin Garden workshops as part of the CHW Food Security Initiative – so come to the garden and get the information and the seeds/compost you need to get started.

The MHNA’s next board meeting is August 17; meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 6pm, at 199 Camp Street. Helen Dukes, an MHNA board member, also hosts an open community forum on the first Monday of each month. The next meeting will be August 3 at 199 Camp Street.
The MHNA will be hosting a local farmers market at the old bus turnaround corner of Camp/Evergreen. The first ones were held on July 14 and 28, and the markets will continue on August 11 and 25 and September 8 and 22. Also the annual Billy Taylor Day is scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 11–5pm. There will be food, fun, music, dance and games for everyone, so plan to attend. Also, MHNA community: Don’t, don’t, don’t forget to VOTE on August 26 for a new city councilmember. Be sure to check your mail for information as to where and when.

Eugenia Marks, on behalf of the CHW, will be hosting The Under Tree book reading every Wednesday from 11:15 to 12 noon until August 9 (it started on July 5). Stop by the drop box at the garden and pick up a copy of Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, a book about urban agriculture and the professional basketball player, while supplies last. Eugenia also has created a lesson plan on garden literacy, which you can also obtain at the drop box. If you’re going to do it, you might as well learn to do it right, so come on out and bring your gardening tips too.
The Mount Hope Learning Center is still looking for pictures for the Arts/Tourism Collaborative Mural, a project of the Empowerment Dialogue for Community Action, which will highlight the stories and recollections of some of the historical and cultural aspects of the Mount Hope neighborhood so as to inform the present and the future. For more info, or to add to the project, call Hannah at MHLC, 401-473-4372.

And finally! Kudos and extra kudos to Mrs. Elizabeth Hector and the late Rev. David Hector for more than 40 years as Salvation 220, the Yellow House on the Corner, where countless people from the neighborhood as well as greater Providence came by for Bible Study, encouragement, a bite to eat or a cold soda and the Wednesday Night Community Forum which left everyone in good spirits!

Unable after seven years of trying to reach a new financial agreement for the house at 220 Camp Street, BOA foreclosed on June 13 and everyone will have to go. On behalf of everyone from the Salvation 220 Family, thank you for letting us serve all of you for the past 47 years!

Stop by and give Ms. Betty a hearty goodbye. We’ll miss her cooking, but most of all, we’ll miss Ms. Betty. Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, 199 Camp Street, Providence, RI 02906, 521-8830, Facebook: Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, Facebook: CHIRIHealth, –Roger Lanctot

Blackstone Parks Conservancy

On the Boulevard
If you are one of the thousands who walk or run on the Boulevard Park, you may have seen a gentleman resembling a greatly slimmed down Santa Claus digging holes in the path this summer. This was Colgate Searle, the distinguished landscape architect who lends his expertise to the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC). Constructed by the city in the early 1990s where a trolley once ran, the path urgently needs repair. As chair of the BPC’s Boulevard Committee, Colgate is trying to identify the composition of the path—which varies from section to section—in order to figure out how best to repair it.

You will be hearing more about Colgate’s ideas for the Boulevard’s preservation and maintenance this fall. His leadership augurs well for the future of this popular destination for city residents.
And while you wait for the next concerts (see dates below), keep enjoying the park. Each year new trees are added by the Conservancy, which works in partnership with the Providence Parks Department. The latter does the mowing of the park while Groundwork Rhode Island mulches and waters the young trees with funds donated by Conservancy members and managed by BPC volunteers.

In the Conservation District
After years of planning and preparation – weed demolition by a troupe of goats and fence building by volunteers as well as the provision of stumps to sit on – the circle designed just for children and known as RiverWood officially opened in June. The brainchild of Elena Riverstone and the Education Committee, the circle sits just inside the woods opposite the Narragansett Boat Club on River Road.

A throng of children enlivened the field choosing from an array of offerings. Some played field games while others worked on the Wetu or did face painting. Luis Arias from the RI Philharmonic Music School played the drums and local actor Chris Byrnes (who may often be found at Books on the Square) was invited inside the magic circle to read aloud to a group of enthralled listeners.

ParkKeeping this year is organized for the convenience of volunteers wanting some activity for an hour or so at the end of the weekday. So far they have been enormously helpful in maintaining the center section of Blackstone Park. See our website for the next date. And bring your children. Thank you for sending your East Side Marketplace receipts to the address below.

Evening concerts on the Boulevard featuring a variety of music: July 12, July 26, August 9 and August 23, from 6 to 7:30pm. Some chairs are provided but you are encouraged to bring your own along with picnics and blankets. Blackstone Parks Conservancy, PO Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014,, –Jane Peterson

Waterman Street Dog Park Association
Art installations are coming to the Waterman Street Dog Park! Working with City Arts and two professional artists, young artists at the Fox Point Boys and Girls Club will be coming to the park this summer to create installations. As the park continues to be packed with neighbors and their furry friends, the Dog Park Association is more committed than ever to make it as pleasant a place to be as possible.

If you’re an enthusiastic user or supporter of the park, get involved with the Dog Park Association! There are so many things we’re ready to work on to make the park even better. We’re going to be announcing a membership drive in the coming months, and we’d love to have you on board! Waterman Street Dog Park Association. 19 Luzon Ave., Providence, RI 02906., –Sam Bell

College Hill Neighborhood Association

Though things generally slow down on the East Side during the summer, there are always neighborhood issues that need attention and to which we try to respond. Such was the case with a surprise zoning issue involving the sale of the large house at 13 Cushing Street owned by Steve and Sharon Linder to the Avance LLC. They were under the impression their side yard would not be large enough to permit a second dwelling. However, a 2014 change in the zoning regulations, that apparently went through unnoticed, now allows such divisions above a minimum of 5,000 sq. ft. (down from 6,000). The lot in question has been reconfigured by the new purchasers and now measures 5,002 feet.

At the June City Plan Commission meeting which has jurisdiction over the proposed subdivision, a group of abutting neighbors were joined by several members of the College Hill Neighborhood Association who objected to both the lack of warning to the neighborhood about the proposal and, in the case of the abutters, the impact the new housing would have on drainage and other issues. Brent Runyon of the Providence Preservation Society also was present to articulate PPS’s position that the proposal required more time for consideration. As a result, the Board postponed any decision until the neighborhood had the opportunity to digest the specifics of the proposal. The issue was also discussed at the next CHNA board meeting on July 17 which was open to the public.

Donna Personeus, head of the Thayer Street District Management Authority (TSDMA), reports that things continue to evolve on Thayer Street as several more new tenants have opened their doors and in some cases replaced ones that are moving on. The newest to open include: Base Station Virtual Reality Experience, which has begun operations above Kartabar to rave reviews. It expects to serve both regular users and as a site for birthday parties. A new restaurant and catering company called b.good has opened and has generated a positive buzz with its locally sourced farm-to-table food. Two other new projects are scheduled for fall openings. Sneaker Junkies has been thriving on Thayer Street, so much so that they will be expanding into the space vacated by Second Time Around. In addition, Heng Thai and Rotisserie has announced they will be opening at 165 Angell Street in former English Cellar Alehouse location.

Become a CHNA Member! We’d love to have you join us
Come help us in our efforts to protect the neighborhood we all love. Here are the best ways to reach us: College Hill Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906. 633-5230,, –Barry Fain


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