April 15, 2024

East Providence News Briefs

Posted

Washington Bridge May Need Total Rebuild
A leaked draft engineering report recommends that the Washington Bridge needs either some very major repairs or possibly a total knock down and rebuild.  The report from VN Engineers Inc. dated February 21st, tells the RIDOT to consider “demolition and replacement of the superstructure, and potentially a full bridge replacement.”  The initial draft report was “leaked” to Target 12 of WPRI news and has since been available to other news agencies. The report indicates that if repairs or a replacement isn’t done, the current bridge could collapse into the river and streets below.  RIDOT Director Peter Alviti refused to speculate on the report, maintaining that the state is awaiting the results of 7 different independent reports.  Governor McKee’s office was adamant that any decision concerning the Washington Bridge would be made after “all final reports are received and evaluated.”  Engineers have warned that some of the bridge’s beams are not sound enough to support significant weight.

East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva and Providence Mayor Brett Smiley both said they were not briefed on the VN Engineers report yet.  Reports show that RIDOT has already spent $35 million to repair the bridge deck.  Some $78 million was earmarked for the bridge repair project and was planned to add another 25 years of life to the important span.  The December 11, 2023, emergency closing of the bridge has now become more complicated with this leaked engineering report.  The state is awaiting 6 more.  Either way this crisis will cause lots of heartache for the area.

EP Schools Deal with Bridge Closure
Schools in East Providence are also dealing with repercussions from the Washington Bridge closure.  The matter was discussed at the February 27th School Committee meeting.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sandra Forand told the committee that lost classroom time due to buses arriving to school late, has been a problem.  “Initially we were seeing big delays with buses,” said Dr. Forand.  “We have made a lot of modifications to bus routes since this began and most (buses) now arrive on time,” she added.  Forand said that the problem areas for busses are when crossing Pawtucket Avenue and Warren Avenue, as well as Broadway and Warren.  “Thes areas near highway ramps are where we see busses getting stuck significantly.”

School officials said that traffic is best on Mondays and Fridays with “mid-week” being the most difficult.  “An accident on the bridge will cause significant delays for our buses.  We have added a van to our fleet (of busses) as we work closely with the bus company.  This helps get students across the entire city when we need to do that,” said Forand.

The school district has spent about $10,000 so far on driver overtime and the additional van but is awaiting hopeful reimbursement from the state.  “This has had some stress on staff,” said Forand when asked the question.  “It has an impact on our staff and one paraprofessional did not want to continue working due to the commute.”  The superintendent said the district is monitoring the situation daily and things have improved from the first days of the crisis.  “Attendance of students has not been a problem; in fact it has improved since last year.  There is an issue with tardiness when those certain busses near the problem areas are late.”

A New Plan Will Change Eoute 195 Lanes Again
Director Alviti recently announced that the change in lanes the state initially tried, didn’t work.  RIDOT’s new plan will add two additional lanes on the eastbound Washington Bridge, which is a separate structure built in the 2000s and is in good shape.  Currently, 195 East is accommodating East and West bound traffic.  Under the latest plan, which will take 8 weeks to change, eastbound bridge traffic will be divided into six lanes. Each direction on the bridge will have three lanes hoping to move vehicles along quicker.  The new lanes will be narrower and will require slower speeds.  RIDOT does warn that factors like poor weather, temperature, supply ordering delays, etc. could delay the lane changing process, which will be done mostly during night hours.  Alviti maintained that the state is still awaiting 6 more independent engineering reports before making any decisions on the bridge’s future.  The reports are due by the end of February or into early march.

Mayor Announces some Traffic Flow Changes

  • Warren Ave westbound from Slocum Street/I-195 East off-ramp will be converted to two lanes going west towards Broadway. One lane will be right turn only towards the 195 west on-ramp. The other lane will be for left turn or through traffic only. The RIDOT will be relining the road.
  • A traffic control officer (Police/Civilian) is stationed at the intersection of Broadway and Warren Ave controlling the traffic flow and preventing motorists from blocking the box. Do Not Block the box signage and road markings placed at the Broadway and Grosvenor intersection.
  • A traffic control officer (Police/Civilian) is stationed at the intersection of Broadway and Grosvenor controlling the traffic flow and preventing motorists from blocking the box.
  • Hull Street at Grosvenor will be closed to through traffic and only local/residents will be allowed to enter Hull Street southbound. This will help prevent motorists from using Baker and Agnes Streets as a shortcut and bypass to Broadway which contributes to additional gridlock.

New East Providence Fire Chief hired
The city of East Providence has named Michael P. Carey as Chief of the East Providence Fire Department effective Feb. 27, 2024.  After an interview panel of candidates, Mayor Bob DaSilva has appointed Carey to the position of Chief.  “I am proud to announce that I have chosen Michael P. Carey to serve as East Providence’s Fire Chief,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “He has successfully served as Acting Chief and has proven his dedication to the East Providence Fire Department and the residents of this great city over his 33 years of service to the Department.

 “Under Carey’s leadership, there will be fresh approaches on how to improve systems and a focus on developing new pathways to efficient service while also decreasing costs and saving lives,” DaSilva added. We are excited for his new role in leading the EPFD forward.”

“I am truly honored to be selected by Mayor Dasilva as the 17th Fire Chief in the long and proud history of the East Providence Fire Department,” Chief Carey said. “I have dedicated years of my life to serving in East Providence and this will be the next exciting chapter in my career.

“As the Fire Chief, I am excited to work with everyone in our organization to enhance fire and emergency services for the residents of East Providence,” Carey added. “We will work tirelessly to keep our community and personnel safe.”

Carey, who has served as Acting Chief since November 18, 2023, has been in fire service for more than 33 years. He served 25 of those years in a supervisory capacity as a fire officer and the last seven years of which, as Chief Officer.

A recipient of the Medal of Valor Service Bar, the National Disaster Response Service Bar, and the Citation Service Bar Star, to name a few, Carey began his career as a firefighter with the East Providence Fire Department in 1990 and has risen through the ranks to Fire Lieutenant, Assistant Fire Marshal, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief and Acting Fire Chief before being appointed Fire Chief.

During his time with the Department, Carey served as a founding member and the first Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team’s Operations Officer, establishing training and policies to maintain hazardous materials responses capabilities for a 34-member Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team.

He also wrote, acquired and managed more than $17 million in Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) for equipment, training and fire station construction.  Most recently, Carey was responsible for overseeing the $1.4 million renovation and rollout of the city’s Public Safety Communication Center.

In addition to his duties with the EPFD, Carey currently serves as a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Association, and the National Fire Protection Association. He also earned the designation of Chief Fire Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Professional Credentialing.

Carey earned his Master of Public Administration degree, with a focus on Fire and Emergency Services (2022), as well as his Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science (2021) graduating Summa Cum Laude from Anna Maria College.

City Prepares for Full Property Revaluation
The City of East Providence is in the process of a full property revaluation as required by Rhode Island general law. As a result, taxpayers will receive a new real property assessment upon completion to be used in calculating the 2025 tax bill. There will also be a new tax rate implemented at the completion of the process.  The final stages of the process are slated to end in spring of 2025.

R.I. General (RIGL 44-5-11.6), mandates that cities and towns perform a statistical revaluation update every third and sixth year and a full property revaluation every nine years. The City’s last full property revaluation was conducted as of 12/31/2015, so we are due for a full revaluation as 12/31/2024 to take effect on the 2025 tax bills. Revaluations are important to a community to make sure the property assessments are up to date and ensure all assessments remain fair and equitable.

The city is working with revaluation company Catalis Tax and CAMA Inc., Formerly Northeast Revaluation Group to conduct the citywide Full Revaluation Project.  “Residents and property owners should expect a visit from a field representative of Catalis (formerly Northeast Revaluation) starting in March and continuing for the next several months, ending sometime in the spring of 2025,” East Providence Tax Assessor Sarah Frew said. “The representatives will have identification badges clearly displayed while they are conducting the property inspection. The vehicles they drive will be on file at the East Providence Police Department and in the Assessor’s Office.”

During the visits, the representative will verify the measurements of the buildings, attempt to inspect the interior characteristics of the property, and take an updated photo of the property.  If it is not a convenient time when the representative arrives, he or she will leave a note at the property with information regarding how to schedule an inspection at a time convenient for the resident/property owner. Please keep in mind, the data obtained will be used to calculate the assessment on your 2025 tax bill, so property owners cooperating throughout the process is a key factor to the assessment being accurate.

Assessor Frew also stated that property owners can visit the city website at  2024-2025 Full Revaluation | City of East Providence, RI (eastprovidenceri.gov) to stay up to date with different phases of the project, including a  map identifying where field representatives will be, and other information throughout the process. 

At the end of the process, property owners can expect to receive a new assessment in the mail. The new assessment notice will include information regarding an informal hearing process if property owners feel the new assessment is not accurate. If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the results of the informal hearing process, they may make use of a formal appeal process regarding their new values. That process will begin after taxpayers receive their tax bills in July of 2025.

For any questions regarding this process, please call the city of East Providence Assessor’s Office at 401-435-7574. More information on taxpayer revaluation can be found at Revaluation-Explained-web.pdf (www.nereval.com ) and Catalis Tax & CAMA (www.nereval.com ).

Sewer Treatment Plant Getting Odor Covers
In a statement from Mayor DaSilva’s office, progress is touted on the long-awaited odor control system being installed on the treatment tanks in Riverside.  “The sewer treatment plant management company Veolia, has begun the work of the construction of the primary clarifier covers, including enhanced odor control technology. This project is slated to be completed sometime this spring and should significantly reduce any odors coming from the plant,” said DaSilva.  “The installation of these odor control covers was one of the key points our administration negotiated into the management contract approved by the city in 2021.  The City Council has been a strong supporter of this project also.  Unfortunately, due to pandemic related delays, supply chain issues and additional improvements needed on the clarifier tanks the project has taken a little longer to get off the ground than expected.”

Martin Middle School Bond Issue Rolling Along
On the heals of the East Providence High School bond issue, local voters also approved a $148 million spending plan in November of 2022 to replace a large portion of Martin Middle School.  The school which opened in 1977 with an “open classroom design,” was never advantageous to education.  The martin design featured copen classrooms in many cases without walls and traditional windows.  The open design was trendy in the seventies but soon fell out of favor.  There were other problems with the school which caused many retrofits to HVAC and other areas.  Voters in 2022 approved a plan which would demolish the current classroom design and build a more traditional classroom addition.  The current building has a large professional grade auditorium which will remain and the large gymnasium which will stay as is.  The result is a “hybrid” type of construction which will keep the best parts of the original school and add a totally new classroom area.

Additionally, the 2022 bond will provide for much needed improvements to Riverside Middle and Waddington elementary schools.  Riverside Middle is upgrading its science labs and the current library is being converted to a modern Media Center/library.  The middle school is also replacing classroom windows.  RMS opened in 1965 and is a very efficient building in good shape.  The upgrades are expected to keep RMS a vibrant school for many more years.  Athletic fields and parking, outside of the bond issue, are also being added at this time and will complement the adjacent Riverside Recreational complex.

Also benefiting from the 2022 bonding is the Waddington Elementary school on Legion Way.  This school, while mostly traditional, also has an area of “open” classrooms. Security enhancements will take place and the open classrooms will be reconstructed to traditional rooms with walls and windows, etc.     

City seeks RFQs for Crescent Park Beach Mural
The City of East Providence is seeking qualifications from artists or artist teams to design and implement a mural on a beachfront concrete wall at Crescent Park Beach. This 10-acre City park is located on Bullocks Point Avenue, between Narragansett Bay and the historic Looff Carousel, and until the 1970’s was home to the former Crescent Park amusement park. With water quality having considerably improved, it is the City’s goal to designate Crescent Park as a licensed, swimmable public beach.

“Over the last several years we have made several improvements to Crescent Park and Crescent Beach and the addition of a beautiful, new mural will add a sense of pride, history and offer a place for residents and visitors to the beach use the mural as a backdrop to the memories and selfies,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “The mural will prominently include the words “East Providence” and its design will reflect the history and culture of our City.”  The City will continue its improvements to the gem we call Crescent Park/Beach.” Any questions should be directed to Johanna Walczak, Senior Planner, at jwalczak@easprovidenceri.gov or Jessica Lamprey, Procurement Specialist at jlamprey@eastprovidenceri.gov.  Specifications may be downloaded from the City’s website https://eastprovidenceri.gov/rfp Making Progress, Moving Forward https://eastprovidenceri.gov/.../city-seeks-rfqs-design.

East Providence police make arrest on recent burglaries
The East Providence Police Department reports the arrest of 59-year-old Terrence Madden. Madden was arrested following a lengthy investigation by East Providence Police Dept. detectives into a string of residential burglaries in the Riverside section of the city. After his arrest, Madden admitted to detectives that he committed seven burglaries last month. The department credits the diligent work of detectives, as well as citizens and law enforcement partners that assisted detectives with the identification and arrest of Madden. Madden was arraigned on the following charges:

  • Breaking & Entering Dwelling House w/o Consent (3 counts)
  • Burglary (3 counts)
  • Attempted Breaking and Entering (2 counts)
  • Larceny Under $1,500

Madden was held without bail at his arraignment this morning. Madden was also presented as a Superior Court probation violator on previous breaking and entering charges.

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