August 17, 2022

East Providence News Briefs

Posted

Flood Zone Property Buyout Available to State Street Neighborhood
U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced over $12 million in a “Buyout Lifeline for Flood-Prone Properties” in East Providence, Middletown and Narragansett, RI.  In July, Reed, along with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), and East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva, joined local residents to announce approval of up to $9.65 million in federal funding for property buyouts for eligible homeowners along Marsh Street and around the State Street neighborhood.  Additionally, the purchase of floodplain easements and restoration of land damaged by Tropical Storm Ida in Middletown and Narragansett bring the total federal flood prevention investment for this initiative to over $12.2 million.  No local match is required for this funding.

In East Providence, the new federal funding will provide relief to eligible residents who have been impacted by repeated flooding along the Runnins River.  The federal funding, which Senator Reed helped secure, is being made available through NRCS’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program.  Reed said the federal funds will allow residents who volunteer to participate in the buyout program to sell their homes for fair value.  Once acquired, homes and other structures will be removed and the land will be restored to its natural state.  The acquired properties will be designated as floodplain easements within an undevelopable wetland watershed area.  When flood-prone properties become natural open space, they provide an additional flood buffer for the rest of community, absorbing additional stormwater and creating new natural habitat.

“This is a wonderful community, but nobody wants to be swamped by increased flood risk and the bills and hardships that come with it.  This voluntary buyout program is an opportunity for repetitive flood loss victims to get fair market value so they can relocate while simultaneously improving flood mitigation and developing smarter long-term flood management solutions.  I appreciate NRCS staff for their diligent, expeditious efforts to help people and we want this process to move forward before another high-water event occurs.  We can’t undo the damage floods have done or replace treasured family photos and heirlooms that were destroyed, but hopefully we can help people out of difficult circumstances so they can get a fair deal and move forward with their lives away from flood-prone areas.  And we’re also improving the environmental integrity of the floodplain,” said Senator Reed.

“This flooding issue has been plaguing this neighborhood for decades now.  And we now, thanks to Sen. Reed, have the opportunity to give our residents real relief and peace of mind,” said East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva.

“Floodplains can provide significant protection from flood damages to downstream landowners,” said Phou Vongkhamdy, Rhode Island State Conservationist for NRCS. “These easements will significantly limit future uses of land in the floodplains, making it available to store flood water. Restoration of the land to a natural condition will increase flood storage capacity.”

The next step will be for NRCS to distribute information and applications to property owners, followed by an appraisal process.  If property owners decide to sell through the federal property buyout program, the town becomes the property owner, subject to a floodplain easement. No other permanent structures may be built on the land within the floodplain easement, and it must remain forever “green” in accordance with NRCS regulations, which can allow for recreation.

Aldersbridge Communities and City Issue Housing Project
Aldersbridge Communities, a local nonprofit provider of long-term care, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, assisted living, and independent services for older adults, announces plans for its newest community, Aldersbridge at East Point.  A four-story, modern apartment building will be constructed as part of Noble Development’s 29-acre East Point housing development in the Phillipsdale area of Rumford, R.I., just off Bourne Avenue. When completed, it will provide 39 units of affordable, independent living-style housing for LGBTQI+ elders and their allies.

Aldersbridge Communities is partnering with Barbara Sokoloff Associates (Providence) and ONE Neighborhood Builders (Providence), both of which specialize in affordable housing development. Currently, funding is being finalized from multiple sources including tax increment funding from the City of East Providence and a traditional bank construction loan. A Low-Income Tax Credit from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has already been received for pre-development work to pay for the architectural design and engineering work.

“We are excited to partner with ONE Neighborhood Builders in developing the very first LGBTQIA+ community for older adults in Rhode Island,” states Richard Gamache, MS, FACHCA, chief executive officer of Aldersbridge Communities. “Our Board of Trustees has been working for some years now to find an ideal location, and it is now a reality. We’ve been caring for low- and moderate-income older adults in East Providence for over 50 years. This project symbolizes our continued respect and commitment to provide quality affordable housing for those who call our communities home.”

Several years ago, Aldersbridge Communities Trustee Jodi Glass, along with immediate past chair Jason Preciphs, formed an AldersPride Committee to educate staff members and residents about the LGBTQ community. “As an organization, we’ve been fully supportive of and welcoming to this population,” Dr. Glass comments. “LGBTQ seniors often face discrimination and bias as they enter senior housing, as they feel they have to hide their true identities from the mainstream residents. East Point is inclusive as we will market the community to LGBTQI individuals and those who consider themselves their supportive allies.”

Aldersbridge at East Point is estimated to be completed in 2023. The building will include an inviting entry foyer, light and airy apartments situated around common corridors and sitting areas, and outdoor terrace and courtyard for gathering. Other amenities are energy efficiency, open floor plans, elevators, a water feature focal point, and parking lot.

East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva states, “We are proud that the first LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing apartment building will be right here in East Providence. This will provide our senior population a safe new affordable community in the heart of Rumford. We applaud Aldersbridge for their forward thinking and are inspired by their dedication to making this happen.”

Plans call for several acres of open space, walking trails and parking lots for public use. “Aldersbridge Communities has brought to our project a new and innovative model of housing,” states Richard P. Baccari II, president and chief executive officer of Noble Development, a subsidiary of Churchill & Banks. “It is our hope that future housing developers and municipalities will follow their lead in creating more affordable housing for the LGBTQ community.”

Last month, Aldersbridge Communities participated in East Providence’s first Pride Parade which culminated in a Pride flag raising and speeches at City Hall. “We can’t wait to welcome residents to our new community,” said Richard Gamache. “We have a lot of Townie Pride and, having just celebrated Pride month in June, we feel that our East Point project is something we can all be proud of.”

Hunts Mills Bridge Rebuild
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has issued a statement on July 22nd which announced the closure of the busy Hunts Mill Bridge, which carries Pleasant Street (Route 114A) over the Ten Mile River in East Providence. RIDOT will completely replace the bridge and reopen it to traffic by the end of the year.

RIDOT will sign a detour using Pawtucket Avenue, Taunton Avenue and Fall River Avenue in Seekonk, Mass. Motorists should plan extra time for travel.

The bridge carries approximately 11,420 vehicles per day and is an important route connecting homes on either side of the river and businesses along the Route 44 corridor and the Rumford section of East Providence.

The Hunts Mill Bridge was built in 1926 and has been classified as structurally deficient since 2011. Given its historic status and that of the surrounding area – it is one of the most historically important areas in East Providence – RIDOT will replicate the bridge's historic features while replacing it with a modern structure. RIDOT has taken this approach with many other bridge rehabilitation and replacement projects to preserve the ornate or historically significant features while still maintaining current safety standards.

While RIDOT anticipates opening the new bridge to traffic by the end of the year, final completion of the project is expected in summer 2023.  All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.

The replacement of the Hunts Mill Bridge is made possible by RhodeWorks and the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Improvement Act. RIDOT is committed to bringing Rhode Island's infrastructure into a state of good repair while respecting the environment and striving to improve it.

EP Community Center Plan to get $3,000,000 – Congressman Cicilline
Late last month the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations package laying out Fiscal Year 2023 funding for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Rural Development; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs; and the Interior, Environment. A congreesional press release said that the package is funding for 11 projects that the Congressman David N. Cicilline submitted to the Appropriations Committee on behalf of his constituents and local organizations.  East Providence is slated to receive $3 million for development of a community center.

“I’m proud that all of the projects I fought to include in this bill were passed this week. These 11 projects will help Rhode Island families with childcare and affordable housing, with the development and expansion of community centers, allow for better fire protection, and help us develop a safer, cleaner, and more efficient water supply for our homes, schools, and businesses,” said Congressman Cicilline.  Included in H.R. 8294 is funding for the following projects:

  • Renovation of Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County’s (BGCNC) Clubhouse: $750,000
  • Progreso Latino, Inc. Facility Purchase and Renovation: $3,000,000
  • MacColl YMCA Nature Studies Center & Outdoor Pavilion: $750,000
  • North Smithfield Senior/Multigenerational Facility Construction: $4,000,000
  • City of Pawtucket Land Acquisition for the Development of Affordable Housing: $2,000,000
  • Repurposing Osram-Sylvania to Meet Central Falls’ Economic and Housing Needs: $2,600,000
  • Touisset Fire Protection, Town of Warren: $825,000
  • Town of Smithfield for a Water and Sewer Project- $840,000
  • Town of Bristol for the Sewer Rehabilitation Area 2 and 3 Project: $1,248,000
  • Town of Cumberland for a Returning Stormwater Runoff Project: $1,200,000
  • East Providence Community Center: $3,000,000

The funding for East Providence would be used to support the development of a community center for use by youth, families, older residents, and civic organizations. The new center would allow East Providence to offer recreation programming, job training, health monitoring services, public safety training, community meetings, and more. The center would also be utilized by the East Providence Police Department to conduct training and community police outreach programming. City residents have expressed their support for additional recreational space via the approval of two voter referendums to issue bonds for construction of a new recreation center. The City lacks community space, and the addition of this Center would be a tremendous resource where residents could easily access key programming and services.

City School Administration Adjusts
There will be some administrative changes when East Providence Public Schools resume in late August.  Most notably led by the retirement of Superintendent Kathryn Crowley.  Crowley was Superintendent for the past 7 years and shepherded the city through the planning and construction of the new East Providence High School.  She will remain on through the end of her contract in January and will help advise on the proposed Martin Middle and Waddington school bond issue.

Hennessey School Principal Lindsey Reilly will move to the newly created Director of Teaching & Learning position.  Reilly’s position will be in the slot of former Assistant Superintendent, now new Supt., Sandra Forand.  Dr. Celeste Bowler will remain as an Assistant Superintendent.

Laurie Marchand the former Whiteknact School principal will be the new Martin Middle School principal with William Black going to the high school.  Tonianne Napolitano has been hired as the new Whiteknact principal.

Thirty-year veteran Anthony Feola has retired and was replaced with Christopher Murphy as Facilities Manager.

Recent Martin administrator Shane Messier will be the new Assistant Principal at East Providence High School, replacing the retiring Bob Currier.  Greg McCarthy was appointed the new Assistant Principal at Martin.

EP Police Make Arrests in ‘White Nationalist Activity”
East Providence Police made two arrests in July of men accused of illegally posting signs on telephone poles in the city.  The signs were white nationalist recruitment signs and were in violation of local laws.  The two men were residents of Portsmouth, RI.  At one point the police encountered up to five men in the vicinity of Silver Spring and Gordon schools. One man in the group was from Arizona.  Those arrested were charged with trespassing, obstruction of a police officer in the line of duty and ordinance violations.  The charges are misdemeanors.   

Local Candidates get Certified for Elections
Announced candidates turned in enough signatures to have their names placed on the September primary and November general election.  Voter signatures are not a “vote” for a candidate but allow individuals to be placed on the ballot.  The candidates are:

Mayor
Roberto L. Dasilva
Maureen L. Gomes Lopez
Ruarri J. Miller
John J. Rossi

City Council
Ward 1
Frank J. Rego
Edward J. Wencis

Ward 2
Dunia Teresa D. Jesus Rego Samayoa
Anna M. Sousa

Ward 3
Nathan W. Cahoon
Francis E. Fogarty

Ward 4
Richard A. Lawson Jr
Ricardo Dias Mourato

At-Large (entire city)
Brian D. Castro
Robert P. Rodericks

School Committee
Ward 1
Ryan M. Queenan
Charles S. Tsonos

Ward 2
Max D. Brandle
Carissa C. Moglia

Ward 3
Jenni Azanero
David P. Luiz

Ward 4
Jessica Beauchaine
Jessica L. Medeiros
Anthony M. Pedulla

At-Large
Miles F. Bonalewicz
Anthony J. Ferreira
Rafael Villanova

General Assembly
House of Representatives
District 63
Katherine S. Kazarian, Democrat
Anthony Sionni, Republican

District 64
Brianna E. Henries, Democrat
George Frederic Kilborn Jr, Democrat
Ashley Pereira, Democrat

District 65
Matthew S. Dawson, Democrat
San Shoppell, Democrat
John R. Peters, Republican

District 66
Jennifer Smith Boylan, Democrat
Steven E. Santos, Republican

Senate
District 14
Megan S. Duckworth, Democrat
Valarie J. Lawson, Democrat
David V. O'Connell, Republican

District 18
Robert Britto, Democrat,
Gregory R. Greco, Democrat
Anna Maria Peters, Republican

District 32
Susannah P. Holloway, Democrat
Pamela J. Lauria, Democrat
Rhonda Holmes, Republican

RI Secretary of State
Gregg Amore, Democrat
Stephanie E. Beaute, Democrat
Anthony N.B. Tamba, Democrat
Pat V. Cortellessa, Republican

City Democrats Endorse Candidates
The East Providence Democratic City Committee recently met to endorse federal, state and local candidates for the upcoming election.  East Providence City Committee Chairman Bruce Rogers announced that the City Committee unanimously voted to endorse Congressman David N. Cicilline, RI 1st Congressional District.

The membership also voted to endorse the following state candidates:   Governor Daniel J. McKee, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, State Treasurer candidate James Diossa, Secretary of State candidate Gregg M. Amore and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.

On a local level, Mayor Roberto DaSilva, City Councilman at-large Robert P. Rodericks and School Committee Candidate at-large Rafael Villanova also received the city committee’s endorsement since they are candidates “at-large”.

State legislative candidates are endorsed by their respective senate and representative committees and supported by the city committee and their ward committees.  School Committee candidates and City Council candidates are endorsed by their individual wards and are eligible to receive support from the East Providence City Committee prior to the primary and general election.

Portions of this News Brief provided by Bob Rodericks.

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