December 1, 2022

September News Briefs

Posted

Crescent Park Looff Carousel is Back!
It has been three years since the historic Crescent Park Looff carousel has given a ride or played its melodic organ music. The 127-year-old carousel was in danger of continuing its majestic presence as major renovations were needed. The Crescent Park Carousel was built in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff, one of the earliest and foremost carousel designers. The Crescent Park Carousel is nationally recognized as a true masterpiece of wood sculpture. Originally built as a showcase for prospective buyers, it is the largest and most elaborate of Looff's works. The Carousel contains 62 beautifully hand carved figures and four fanciful chariots (Crescent Park History). The carousel features elaborate embellishments of decorative panels, beveled mirrors, faceted glass jewels, electric lights, colored sandwich glass windows and its original band organ music surround flying steeds to create Looff's "Total Carousel Experience."  Spot repairs have been made through the years but restoration experts, which are far and few between, recommended the suspension of the delicate ride before permanent damage was done.  Much more than paint and minor repairs were needed.

The Repairs:
The Carousel had been closed for the restoration of its center foundation since October of 2019.  This work was vital to the long-term health of the Carousel reported experts.  Locally, Ed Serowik has been working on the Carousel since his early teenage years.  Now in his eighties, Serowik continues to help preserve the Carousel.  “It has been a major part of my life,” said Serowik.  “This major structural work is massive but is needed or we would have lost the Carousel for good.”

Carousel Manager, Tracy Johnson, has been at the forefront of the restoration.  “The City of East Providence contracted with Geisser Engineering and Todd Goings of Carousels and Carvings to create a plan to reinforce the mast foundation and the framing to the center floor, which will help to begin stabilizing the carousel,” said Johnson. “The City then hired New England Foundation and Stabilization Company, based here in East Providence, to begin implementing the plan.  That plan called for the installation of 16 helical supports to be installed into the sand. These supports are motor driven into the sand at key locations and will be attached to the floor framing and as well as the new cement piers that will be poured beneath the mudsills to support the mast,” explained Johnson.  The work is progressing and all 16 foundation helical piers have now been installed. The next step was to have the forms made, and the concrete poured. “It’s actually a five-point foundation that holds the carousel in the air and four of the five points were failing,” Johnson explained.

We’re Back – Manager Tracy Johnson:
In early August, Looff’s horses and chariots rode again.  A successful trial “soft” opening of the world famous Crescent Park Carousel was held on August 6th.  The inimitable carousel manager, Tracy Johnson gave the Looff a trial run to make sure no kinks were obvious.  A few passersby saw the carousel in motion and stopped to watch.  They were allowed to ride as a further test and all went well.  “I guess we’re ready for tomorrow's official opening” (Sunday August 7, 2022) said a confident Johnson as Looff’s horses galloped at a speed which seemed faster than ever and the original organ music blared loud and clear.

“We're so happy to announce that the Charles I.D. Looff Crescent Park Carousel has officially reopened! Phase I of our Stabilization Project has been completed and we are able to operate the Carousel this season.  We are currently riding 30 to 40 people at a time (higher when its more children than adults, more adults we stick around 30). We are riding minimum capacity to preserve the center and top barrings until we can replace them in phase 2 of the stabilization project. As for weight limits, we have and have always had a 200 lb weight limit on the jumper horses, we ask that if people exceed that weight, you ride a stationary horse, stand or sit in a chariot.  Rides will be limited as we move toward Phase II, projected to begin in October 2023. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work diligently to keep the magic of our beloved Carousel alive for another generation,” beamed a happy Tracy Johnson.  Close to a thousand people showed up for the return of the Carousel.  However, the long and complicated repairs are ongoing.  “Once the complete renovation is done, we can revert back to full capacity ridership.”

“After more than 100 or so years of operation, things start to give way," said Mayor Bob DaSilva. "The ride was not stable, so we needed to stabilize it. It involved putting down giant blocks of concrete, engineered the way it should be. Just to see the smiles and the cheers and excitement of not only the young people, but old and young alike. That’s what’s exciting about it. Everyone enjoys a good carousel,” added DaSilva.  Besides the children, the happiest person at the Looff Carousel may be its manager, Tracy Johnson.  “My heart was full all weekend,” said Johnson after the long-awaited opening.

Some Other Restrictions Remain:
According to manager Johnson, a few restrictions will remain temporarily.  Rides will pause daily at approximately 3:00 pm for 20 minutes.  The Ticket Booth closes at 5 pm (or 7 pm on select Fridays) or one (1) hour before closing to ensure we are able to get through all of our guests.  “We will close the line 30 minutes before closing time.” 

Sensory Friendly Hours
Every Saturday the band organ will be off from noon to 3 pm so those with sound sensitivities are able to enjoy the beautiful carousel.  The organ will resume after the break at approximately 3:20 pm.

Hours of Operation:
Saturday & Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm.   Ticket Prices:  Ages 3 and under ride free.  Tickets never expire after purchase and are $2.00 each. 

Rides will pause daily at approximately 3:00 pm for 20 minutes.  The Ticket Booth closes at 5 pm (or 7 pm on select Fridays) or one (1) hour before closing to ensure we are able to get through all of our guests.  The Carousel will also be open from 4pm to 8pm on the following dates:  Friday, September 23, 2022 and Friday, October 21, 2022.

National Register of Historic Places:
The Crescent Park Carousel was placed on the National Register of Historic sites and places in 1976.  In 1985, the Rhode Island General Assembly proclaimed the Carousel as the State Jewel of American Folk Art and in 1987, the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, designated the Carousel as a National Historic Landmark.

Technical nerds may want to know the Carousel by the Numbers:

  • The ride is 50 feet in diameter
  • The building is 100 feet in diameter
  • The ride is 157 feet in circumference
  • One ride is thirty revolutions which means the ride travels approximately 0.9 miles (4710 feet)
  • In one hour, the ride travels 9 miles (47100 feet) or in one day, the ride travels 71.4 miles (376,800 feet)
  • The average season is 100 days so the ride would travel 7136 miles (over 37 million feet)
  • In the 116 years of operation, the ride has gone 33 times around the Earth or 3.3 times to the Moon!
  • And with an annual average rider ship of 100,000 The Crescent Park Carousel has given 11.6 million rides and still counting.

Even with the minor ride restrictions, visitors have been ecstatic at the return of the carousel rides.  Social media has been flooded with complimentary comments and well-wishes from people throughout the region.

City Council Reinforces “No Hotel” at Metacomet
The City Council added language at its August meeting that ensures a hotel will not be part of the Metacomet development plan.  Objectors to the current Metacomet plan, notably Candy Seel, spoke and pointed out language in proposed amendments to the city Code of Ordinances, which appeared to still have a hotel as a permitted use in the Metacomet subdistrict.  Although the council had previously voted against any hotel on the property, the language was enforced to clarify that the inclusion of a hotel would not be allowable.  An amendment offered by Metacomet supporters was introduced by Councilman Nate Cahoon which stated in part; “the scale of development shall be limited to the traffic capacity of the Veterans Memorial Parkway to service such development without the addition of traffic lights, as is called for in the language for the Veterans Memorial Parkway Sub-District. The access road from the Veterans Memorial Parkway must be carefully designed to be safe and efficient; the scale of development shall be limited by the traffic capacity of the Veterans Memorial Parkway, as is called for in the language of the Kettle Point Sub-District.”  The amendment also stated in part, “The Waterfront District Commission shall contract for a peer review of the traffic study to be provided by the developer. The developer shall provide funds to the Waterfront District Commission for the peer review study.”  Metacomet opposition leader, Candy Seel later wrote that “…this is an extremely important step. It embeds this language into the Plan itself and does not leave the issue to the design guidelines process, as the Planning Department suggested and as Attorney Conley argued.”  Attorney Conley replied that the “foresight” of the creators of the 2003 commission plan who listed many safeguards for the Parkway and said that it was more than adequate and protections already existed.  “We already are bound by certain Parkway restrictions,” said Conley.  Council members Cahoon, Rodericks and Britto voted in favor of the clarifying amendment, which now goes to the city Waterfront Commission.  Councilman Mourato, while supporting the KMG group, voted against the overall amendment, citing his opposition to the waterfront commission. Mourato did vote to exclude any reference to a hotel.  Councilman Britto maintained that a potential low-profile hotel with views of the river, would be a positive thing for the area.  Councilwoman Sousa was not able to attend the meeting.  Eventually all reference to the inclusion of a hotel anywhere in the project was eliminated.  Attorneys and spokespersons for developer Marshall voiced their opinion that safeguards for Veteran’s Parkway already existed and they would be bound to the stipulations such as no traffic lights, certain curb cuts, etc.  

Police Arrest City Man in Car Break-Ins
The East Providence Police arrested a local resident suspected of involvement in several car thefts in the area.  Kevin Cunha was charged last month with larceny, credit card fraud, receipt of stolen goods and thefts from vehicles in the city.  Evidently Cunha was seen on many homeowners’ security cameras entering local properties and searching through unlocked vehicles.  East Providence Police Lieutenant Michael Rapoza, Public Information Officer, said that local police were very familiar with Cunha’s criminal background involving previous “police contacts.”  Cunha was initially remanded to the ACI.  Police continue to urge members of the public to keep all vehicles locked when on their property.

Hunt’s Mill Bridge Rebuild Continues
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,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti. “The 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,” said project engineers.  The Hunts Mill Bridge, carrying Route 114A (Pleasant Street) over the Ten Mile River in East Providence, will remain closed until the end of the year. Demolition is underway and should last about one month before the rebuilding process can begin. Motorists are following the signed detour around the closed bridge, with police officers from East Providence and Seekonk in place to assist as necessary.  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.  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.

Henderson Bridge Project Update
According to the RI Department of Transportation (RIDOT) the Henderson Bridge was declared structurally deficient in 1996, the first year that RIDOT started keeping records. The RIDOT feels that the bridge was initially “over built” and is rebuilding a smaller, more efficient connection between East Providence and Providence.  “Thanks to the help of our Congressional delegation, RIDOT will rebuild it using an additional $54.5 million in federal funds. The total cost for this project is $88.5 million,” said RIDOT officials.  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. RIDOT will demolish it and build a narrower structure with two lanes of traffic westbound and one lane eastbound,” explains project engineers.

Main Project Features and Benefits:

  • 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
  • More Efficient Roadway Network to Support Economic Development
  • Up to 25 Acres of Land Made Available
  • 75% Reduction in Project Area Structure Footprint
  • 12% Reduction of Statewide Structurally Deficient Bridge Area
  • Lower Future Maintenance Cost

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,” explains RIDOT officials in a project statement.

Project Schedule & Cost

  • Location: Providence/East Providence
  • Started Construction in 2020
  • Estimate to finish Construction is 2024
  • Total Projected Cost: $84 Million
  • Detours needed are limited

State Announce $2.9 Million in Grants to Support Outdoor and Public Space
State officials announced a placemaking grant of $2.9 million to support the hospitality, tourism, and events industries in Rhode Island.  The announcement said that this will help East Providence complete its citywide interpretive signage plan for the City’s 31 historic resources. Funding would support “research, writing, image acquisition and graphic production for signage.  The grant amount of $75,000 is for the capital investment of lighting including receptacles along the East Bay Bike Path to enable small and large events to be held in the evening hours.” This request is also for the procurement of a portable stage, portable audio system, and two pop-up canopies. “These elements can also be used throughout the city to support additional events that will bring tourism and revenue to support other local establishments,” said the state announcement.

Primary Election Information
The Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.  The polls will be open from 7:00 AM To 8:00 PM.                                                              

WARD   SEN     REP         Vote Dist.                     Polling Place

1          14            63                1001            Francis School, 64 Bourne Ave

1          14            63                1002            City View Manor, 99 Goldsmith Ave.

2          14            63                1003            Whiteknact School, 261 Grosvenor Ave.

1          18            63                1004             Rumford Towers, 95 Newman Ave.

1          18            63                1005             Francis School, 64 Bourne Ave.

2          18            63                1006             East Prov. Senior Center 610 Waterman Ave

2          14            64                1007             St. Francis Church Hall 81 N. Carpenter St.

2          14            64                1008             Hennessey School 75 Fort St.

3          14            64                1009             Martin Middle School 111 Brown St.

3          14            65                1010             Fuller Learning Center 260 Dover Ave

3          14            65                1011             Kent Heights School, 2680 Pawtucket

3          18            65                1012             Riverside Cong. 295 Bullocks Pt. Ave.

4          18            65                1013             Harbor View Manor, 3663 Pawtucket Ave.

4          18            65                1014             Riverside Library, 475 Bullocks Pt. Ave.

4          32            65                1015             Crescent Park Manor, 243 Crescent View Ave.

4          18            66                1016             Waddington School, 101 Legion Way

4          32            66                1017             Oldham School, 60 Bart Dr (Meadowcrest)

The City of East Providence needs poll workers for the primary election on September 13, 2022, and the general election on November 8, 2022.  Must be available to work all day from 6 am to 9 pm. Must also attend a training class held by the Board of Elections. This is a one-time paid position and workers must be at least 16 years old to qualify. If interested, contact the Board of Canvassers at 401-435-7502.

Tony de Simas, State Representative District 64 Candidate
Antonio de Simas, a candidate for State Representative in District 64 has issued a statement announcing his candidacy.  His candidacy announcement did not make last month’s compilation in the Reporter of those seeking office.  DeSimas is unaffiliated/independent and will be on the November ballot.  His statement in part: “Antonio “Tony” de Simas (born August 8th, 1975) is an accomplished researcher, community leader, and lifelong resident of East Providence, RI. He is a 1993 graduate of La Salle Academy in Providence, RI.  He was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society and National Honor Society. He then studied Mechanical Engineering Technology at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  Tony is a 28-year employee of Acushnet Company (Titleist Golf) in Fairhaven, MA and serves as a Research & Development Product Development & Support Technician V, with a demonstrated history of working in the golf industry. Strong research professional skilled in Polymer Science, Polymer Processing, Problem Solving, Team Building, Critical Thinking, Teamwork, Analytical Skills, Management, and Continuous Improvement. Tony has been Co-inventor on 32 issued United States Patents related to golf ball construction.  Tony is a Former President and Founding Member of the East Providence Junior Townies Youth Football and Cheerleading. The Junior Townies was founded in 2011. Prior to that Tony was the Football Commissioner of the East Providence Mohawks Youth Football and Cheerleading.  Tony has been Secretary for Blackstone Valley Youth Football and Cheerleading for the last 8 years. Tony has been a Board Member of the East Providence Prevention Coalition for almost 3 years. Tony is a 3-year member of the Holy Ghost Brotherhood of Charity Brightridge and an almost 28-year member of the Knights of Columbus East Providence Council #1528. Tony is a proud resident of East Providence; where he lives with his wife Tiffany, 3 of his 5 children (Tyler, Tony Jr., Jayden, Ryeleigh, and Julian), and 3 dogs (Bailey, Nala, and Violet).

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Senator Jack Reed in EP
The federal Small Business Association (SBA) and the office of U.S. Senator Jack Reed issued a press release upon their visit in late July to East Providence.  “In an effort to highlight how local small businesses strengthen the culture and fabric of the communities they serve and fuel economic growth and job creation, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, today joined with the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to tour Rhode Island small businesses and meet with small business leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees.  SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman is a member of President Biden’s Cabinet and the federal point person for America’s 32.5 million small businesses nationwide.

Casillas Guzman joined Senator Reed for a small business tour that included stops at local shops, restaurants, and studios. The day began with breakfast at Pazi’s Place, a 1950s-style diner in East Providence, where Administrator Guzman met with small business leaders and received an honorary key to the City from East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva.

“America’s small businesses make and deliver the products we all depend on every day, especially in New England, where making things is ingrained in the culture, said Administrator Guzman. “As we saw firsthand in Rhode Island, buying American-made products helps create highly-skilled jobs, grows the economy, and increases our competitiveness in the global economy. Under President Biden’s leadership and that of Senator Reed, small manufacturers will have a level playing field to strengthen domestic supply chains, bring down costs for businesses and families, and open doors of opportunity in Rhode Island and all across the nation.”

“Small businesses have a big impact on our economy. They are the lifeblood of our communities. It was great to have SBA Administrator Guzman here in Rhode Island. She got a chance to see some of our amazing, innovative small businesses and hear directly from small business owners and employees about some of the challenges and opportunities they face. I appreciate her tireless efforts to connect directly with small business people and ensure the federal government is responsive to their needs,” said Senator Reed.

Since the start of the pandemic, Rhode Island businesses and non-profits have received about $4 billion from SBA programs.  An average of two-thirds of every dollar ($0.67) spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community. And every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services, according to the Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express.”

Police Promotions
The City of East Providence Police held a swearing-in ceremony to promote four newly promoted members of the East Providence Police department.  The following officers were sworn in:  Detective Corporal Stephen DeMedeiros, Sgt. Michael O'Connell, Lt. Kurt Hawes and Capt. Michael Jones.

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