April 17, 2021

Monthly News Briefs

Posted

EP Opens vaccinations to teachers and residents of congregate living facilities
The City of East Providence, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health, has established a Closed Point of Dispensing (POD) for COVID-19 vaccine administration for East Providence schools’ K-12 teachers and staff and East Providence DHS-licensed childcare and daycare providers.

“Our team has been collaborating with the school administration of both our public and private schools to be sure that all school staff have the opportunity to be vaccinated and are diligently working with property managers of congregate living facilities to be sure all of our senior residents in those buildings are vaccinated,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “Citywide, our staff and volunteers are working to be sure every resident who wants a vaccine receives one.  “Thank you to all of our residents for their patience and cooperation during this time,” DaSilva added.

As Closed PODs, the clinics, were held on Friday, March 12 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (for East Providence public schools staff) and Saturday, March 13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (for private schools and licensed childcare and home daycare staff), and were accessible to specific lists of school administration, staff and teachers.  School staff are being contacted by the district with instructions on how to schedule their vaccine. Walk-ins will not be permitted.

In order for school-related staff to be vaccinated at these PODs, individuals had to meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Provide regular, direct service to children as part of school operations including administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, clerical staff, custodian or maintenance, bus drivers/bus monitors.
  • Have current work ID. A badge with a minimum of the school’s name and the employee’s first name and photo will be required for vaccination at a POD. (Pay stub or letter from employer and ID will also be accepted when no workplace badge is available.)
  • Staff MUST provide the full name of their school or organization in the "Affiliated Organization" field in the PrepMod registration signup
  • Only individuals who meet the above requirements and show corresponding identification will be allowed entry to a POD.

East Providence EMA also began vaccinating East Providence residents who are living in congregate living facilities in late March. These residents will receive the vaccine without having to leave their own living facility. Residents will be contacted be their property owner/manager who will work with residents to schedule their appointments.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be administered at these PODs and at the congregate living facilities. Information on the Pfizer vaccine may be found here: https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download

To stay updated on all COVID-19 information, please visit: https://www.eastprovidenceri.gov/COVID-19

Felony Assault Suspect Arrested
The East Providence Police announced the arrest of a suspect wanted in a shooting at the troubled Rumford Motor Inn on Newport Avenue in the city’s Rumford neighborhood.  The following information was released by Det. Cpl. Kris Ellinwood and Det. Cpl. Warren Caldwell.  “On March 25, 2021, at about 0425 hrs. Officers were called to the Rumford Motor Inn at 400 Newport Ave. for the report of gun shots.  Arriving Officers searched the area for any signs of gun fire and spoke with the owner of the property.  After searching the parking lot and hallways of the property a hole was found in the hallway outside of a second floor room.  Officers knocked on the door and spoke with two occupants who were uninjured.

The occupants said they heard a noise and as Officers looked around the room they found two bullet holes in the windows and one through the wall.  Occupants of surrounding rooms were contacted and it was determined no one had been injured by the gun fire.  Officers secured the scene and BCI and Major Crime Detectives responded to the scene.

After interviewing the occupants of the room it was discovered that one of them had received a threatening text message earlier from a male party.  Investigators were also told a possible suspect had been seen leaving the area in a dark colored vehicle and the suspect may be a thin black male with short dread locks.  The incoming phone number was retrieved from the victim’s phone and it was learned the message had come in through an app known as “Text Now”.  Investigators were able to find the owner of the incoming text “Text Now” account and the IP address associated with it.”

Investigators tracked the IP address to a house on Burke St. in Pawtucket.  A check of the house showed a black Acura in the rear yard.  Investigators watched the house and notified Pawtucket Police.

Around 7:30 pm the vehicle was seen leaving the residence and investigators surveilled the vehicle and the operator, who matched the description of the suspect.  The vehicle pulled into a Shell Gas Station and Pawtucket Police approached the vehicle and took the operator into custody without incident.  The suspect, identified as Joshua Francois, age 27, was brought back to the East Providence Police Department and gave a statement admitting to firing a gun outside of the Rumford Motor Inn at a specific room occupied by two females.  Francois is charged with 2 counts of Felony Assault with a Handgun, Firing in a Compact Area, and Vandalism.

Later in a zoom community meeting with the Mayor’s office, Deputy Chief  Chris Francesconi said that police response to the Rumford Motor Inn continues.  “It’s about the same, no more but no less (incident calls).  But don’t get me wrong, we’re called there quite often,” he said.  Chief of Police William Nebus added that “the Inn ownership and employees have been very cooperative and continue to work with us.”

City encourages residents to recycle right or risk paying fines
The City of East Providence is educating and encouraging residents to recycle right or risk paying fines.  East Providence sees a number of rejected recycle collection loads each year and is looking to residents to recycle right. If a load is deemed contaminated, Rhode Island Resource Recovery assesses a $250 equipment use/handling charge to process the materials, which are transported over to the landfill and billed at the tipping fee the City pays for disposing trash. This is costing city taxpayers thousands of dollars each year. 

“Last year our City paid a total of $29,824.00 for rejected loads and that is just unacceptable,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “We have worked to educate the public on what is and is not recyclable, but bags of trash and plastic bags continue to be found in the recycle carts.

“In 2020, 342 tons of recyclable material of which residents worked hard to separate and recycle was instead rejected and is now piled up in the landfill,” DaSilva added. “We are reminding residents once again no plastic bags, bags of bags, or recycling inside of bags in the recycle bins – let’s recycle right together.”

In September, the City amended health and sanitation ordinances to address the placement of non-recyclable material in trash bins, automated trash collection, rodent infestation and eradication and littering. The ordinances also address violations and fees including a fee for non-recyclable materials and trash placed in recycling containers. In accordance with Article III, Sec. 6-40 Disposal of Recyclables/Allowing Non Recyclables in Recycling Bin: Non-recyclable materials and trash placed within the blue recycling container may result in a fine of $50 per day.

Efforts to recycle right will keep recycling workers safe, save the City of East Providence money, provide high-quality raw materials to manufacturers, and preserve space in the central landfill.

PAPER, CARDBOARD, AND CARTONS  
That's it—no other fiber products. For example, wood and textiles are made from natural fiber but they aren't paper, cardboard, or cartons, so they don't belong in your bin or cart. Paper and cardboard should be mostly clean and dry (a little grease on a pizza box is OK) and be flattened. Cartons must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Place plastic tops back on to cartons prior to recycling.

No shredded paper, and no napkins, tissues or paper towels. 

METAL CANS, LIDS, AND FOIL
That’s it—no other metal.  For example, a metal frying pan is not a can, lid, or foil, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart. Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Foil should be clean and bunched up.

GLASS BOTTLES AND JARS
That’s it—no other glass. For example, a drinking glass is not a bottle or jar, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart. Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Remove metal tops from glass bottles and jars first, and recycle separately.

PLASTIC CONTAINERS
That’s it—no other plastic. For example, a plastic coat hanger is not a container, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart.  Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Place plastic tops back on to containers prior to recycling.

No foam containers, or plastic containers that once held flammable materials or oily chemicals like gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides or herbicides.

Henderson Bridge Work Continues
Work on the Henderson Bridge continues on schedule according to the RI DOT.  The bridge was declared structurally deficient in 1996, the first year that RIDOT started keeping records.  This year, the RIDOT will rebuild it using an additional $54.5 million in federal funds. The total cost for this project is $88.5 million.

Known as the Red Bridge, Henderson is a 26-span steel girder structure spanning 2,000 feet over the Seekonk River. It carries 20,000 vehicles per day and connects the cities of Providence and East Providence.  The bridge was over built said the RIDOT which will demolish it and build a narrower structure with two lanes of traffic westbound and one lane eastbound.

Project Features:

  • Replaces 6 Lane Structurally Deficient Bridge with a 3- lane bridge
  • Converts Interchanges to At-Grade Intersections
  • Provides a Separated Bike/Ped Infrastructure
  • Provides economic development opportunities

The cities of Providence and East Providence collaborated to outline the attributes they wanted this project to have.  These include spaces that will benefit both commuters and those seeking recreation. The new structure will have a shared use bike path connecting the on-street bicycle networks in East Providence and Providence as well as the Blackstone River Bikeway.

“By reducing the structural footprint RIDOT will decrease the percentage of structurally deficient bridge area in the state by 12 percent. The new smaller bridge will provide better access management for future development of approximately 25 acres and will decrease the need for maintenance,” said RIDOT officials.

City engages community on the Pathway to 2040 Comprehensive Plan
Mayor Bob DaSilva issued a press release stressing an opportunity for residents to talk about the City’s future. Four public workshops, one for each Ward of the City, are schedule as part of a robust public engagement process for the City’s Comprehensive Plan update.  The Comprehensive Plan is a blueprint for the City’s future. This important document is used by local officials and city departments to guide decisions that can help and support residents and local businesses.

Due to ongoing restrictions on public gatherings, the four workshops will be held virtually.

“While these meetings will be virtual, our goal is to make them as engaging as possible,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said.

After a short presentation, participants will be randomly assigned to virtual breakout rooms to talk in small groups about a future vision for East Providence. Discussions will focus on the City’s strengths, areas that need support, and which parts of the City can be transformed to meet the needs of the community.

Each workshop will represent one of the four city Wards. Residents can attend any meeting but are strongly encouraged to participate in the one for their Ward.

Ward 1: Thursday, April 1, 2021, 7-8:30 pm

Ward 2: Thursday, April 8, 2021, 7-8:30 pm

Ward 3: Thursday, April 15, 2021, 7-8:30 pm

Ward 4: Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7-8:30 pm

Residents and business owners are encouraged to register for the ward meetings by visiting: https://www.eastprovidenceri.gov/community .

The Comprehensive Plan covers a wide range of issues that impact our quality of life, including our neighborhoods, where we shop, parks and playgrounds, public services, historic sites and buildings, local employers, as well as how we get around the city. The plan talks about where we are as a community, where we want to be in the next 10 to 20 years, and how we are going to get there.

Through the Comprehensive Plan update process, we recognize and anticipate changes in the future and respond through a clear and direct-action agenda. The City’s current Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2010. It is important that the plan remain current on the makeup of the City and accurately reflect what is happening on the ground in East Providence.

Most importantly, the Comprehensive Plan is a document written by the community and expresses what makes East Providence a unique and special place to live, work and play.

Director of Planning and Economic Development William Fazioli says public participation throughout the update process is a major focus of this effort and encourages residents to participate in the upcoming Ward meetings.

“Every voice needs to be heard to understand what the community values,” Fazioli said. “These Ward meetings will help us understand neighborhood issues as well as talk about the City’s future as a whole.”

Residents can learn about the Comprehensive Plan and why it is important and obtain the latest information on the process and how to share their ideas by visiting the City’s website, https://www.eastprovidenceri.gov/community .

For more information please contact: Director of Planning and Economic Development William Fazioli at wfazioli@eastprovidenceri.gov .

City announces RFQ for new Community Center
The City has rolled out a request for qualifications seeking an architect for the conceptual design of a new state-of-the-art 20,400-square-foot community center.  The center will operate as a community and police wellness center where East Providence residents and members of the East Providence Police Department are able to join together and collaborate on programs and events.

Currently, the City of East Providence, does not have a recreation center for its families, despite the fact that twice, the residents of East Providence voted in favor of financing a recreation center (in 2002 and 2004).

“We are committed to providing our residents with a shared space to serve as a community wellness center, while also providing our police personnel with a place to conduct planning and training and community outreach programs such as National Night Out, R.A.D. Women Physical Defense courses, citizen police academies, liaison communication projects and so much more,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said.

This center will be a place where the City’s Recreation Department can host several youth programs and it will also serve as a location for intergenerational activities. “This center will be a place where our community can continue to interact with members of our law enforcement in a fun and productive manner,” DaSilva added. “It’s a win-win for everyone in our community.”

The RFQ is the first step in seeking a preliminary design and cost estimate for the center, which is slated to feature basketball and futsal courts, female and male locker rooms, exercise/weight area, conference rooms and offices. The RFQ is available here: https://eastprovidenceri.gov/rfp 

The RFQ opening is Friday, April 9, 2021 at 11 AM.  Potential locations include the Senior Center site located at 610 Waterman Ave, Pierce Field located on Mercer Street and other potential sites within East Providence.  Specifications may be downloaded from the City’s website https://eastprovidenceri.gov/rfp

Any questions regarding the RFQ may be directed in writing to Erik Skadberg P.E., Deputy Public Works Director/City Engineer eskadberg@eastprovidenceri.gov  or Dan Borges, Director of Public Works dborges@eastprovidenceri.gov  no later than Thursday, April 2, 2021 at 4 PM.

Police to begin-body worn and in-car camera pilot program
The East Providence Police Department announces the launch of a pilot body-worn and in-car camera program. This program, if fully adopted will create better transparency between the department and the community it serves.  A combination of six patrol officers and supervisors have volunteered to wear the body-worn cameras during a trial period, which is scheduled to last approximately three to four months starting March 16, 2021. The field-testing testing phase will allow for these officers to properly assess the effectiveness of each vendor’s equipment. Officer participation in the pilot program was granted upon the completion of training sessions on the usage of vendor’s equipment.

A “working policy” has been implemented during the test phase of the camera systems to ensure we are operating in compliance with the law and to assuage privacy concerns of our community members.  This “working policy” will be subject to change depending on our assessment of the equipment’s effectiveness.  Officers participating in the pilot program have been trained on the recording of victims of crimes.  All releases of videos will be in compliance with RI General Law 31-21.2.5 and as it relates to the Public Records Act.

East Providence rolls out tree-planting pilot
The City is asking residents to assist in making the City greener one tree at a time.  East Providence is initiating a pilot program to plant trees throughout the City and is beginning the pilot in the Bullocks Point Avenue area with a long-term plan to work with the Rhode Island Tree Council, a non-profit group dedicated to educating the public on the benefits of trees, to facilitate funding to expand the pilot city-wide.

“Trees not only add value to homes (between 3 and 15 percent) by enhancing the curb appeal, but they also provide food for wildlife, help to keep homes cool on hot days and lessen the cold winds, which ultimately lower residents’ heating costs,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said.

In fact, trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent in energy used for heating, according to the USDA Forest Service.

“The RI Tree Council applauds Mayor DaSilva’s decision to start the restocking of the City’s urban forest by planting trees along Bullock Point Avenue,” says John T Campanini, the organization’s technical advisor. “Trees add beauty and charm to the landscape and contribute mightily to our quality of life.

“We look forward to working with the Mayor, City Council and citizens of East Providence to make this pilot program the best it can be,” Campinini added.

The City, through funds approved by the City Council and in working with the East Providence Urban Forest, will begin planting a number of trees along the Bullocks Point Avenue area and are looking to residents who live along Bullocks Avenue to provide feedback and share thoughts on where to plant the trees by completing the attached form (link to form below).

The survey will assist in the planning and location of new trees along the roadway. In most areas, the sidewalk is 3-feet-wide and not wide enough to accommodate adequate pedestrian and American with Disabilities Act clearances.  The trees will be located approximately 4-feet off the back of the sidewalk on private property.  Once a list of locations is provided, the properties will be reviewed to avoid the planting of trees within five feet of water, sewer or gas service.

“We hope residents are just as eager about lining our City’s streets and neighborhoods with a variety of trees as we are,” DaSilva added.  The City is asking interested residents to fill out the form found here: https://bit.ly/3v5WYOv 

Property owners interested in the Bullocks Point Avenue pilot must complete and submit the form no later than April 2, 2021. The submissions will be reviewed by the East Providence Planning & Economic Development Dept.  There is no deadline for submission for those interested in the expanded program.

A tree list & information was prepared by Carol Auer (Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut) on behalf of EP Urban Forest, a neighborhood group working to improve local trees and ecosystems throughout East Providence.

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