Letters to the Editor

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    Dear Editor,

    Having read  the article on the lack of enforcement of the ban on plastic bags by Emily Smith, I decided to make my feelings known to the administration.  I used the link at the end of the article to tell my City councilperson that I want the law enforced, and then I did the same in my daughter’s name (she lives with me).  I called 311 a couple of days running, getting a different person each time.  For what it’s worth, this is more or less what I said. The more of us are heard, the better.

    “I read an article about plastic bags in The Providence Eye. I understand that the ban on them in

    Providence, passed in 5/19, is barely being enforced. I urge the city to enforce this ban.

    Merchants are continuing to provide them without being penalized, flouting the law. A penalty is built into the ban. I take my own bag when I shop, but a couple of businesses have been mentioned to me, Tony’s Colonial on Atwells Avenue, and Sanchez Market, on Broad St.

    Educate merchants and the public. It is an important first step in the reduction of this overused material, which is harming the health of the planet.”

    Anna Browder


    Dear Editor,
    This past Monday 3/11/24 I attended the Fox Point Neighborhood Association meeting during which Tim Shay of Providence City Planning Commission CPC corrected my low estimate regarding new apartments being built in Providence in the next couple of years.
    He said 5000 new apartments are planned for Providence in Fox Point, the I-195 land and who knows where else????

    By May the City Planning Commission will be done with community meetings and the CPC Comprehensive Plan will go forward.
    Their research has been done in comparable size cities elsewhere (maybe those with good public transportation).
    Increased density in various parts of Providence is on the planning boards… where is increased density going to be?
    Impossible to tell from their website.

    Developers (THRIVE) have scooped up triple deckers near PC, pushing out family renters for more lucrative student housing (see Providence Eye).
    Check out 184 Ives St., a lovely looking apartment building with 4-bdrm apartments, renting for $3500/mo = 4 students each for $875/mo. Providence alleged slumlord Dustin Dezube from Wellesley MA is planning a 5-6 story building on Brook/Wickenden with 75 (studio) apts and has recently bought a corner lot on Camp/Evergreen Streetswhere he wants to put 58 apts. Our city councilwoman, Sue Anderbois, held a public meeting 3/10/24 where 200 residents said NO and she said she is not recommending it. We all laughed when he said he would reduce it to 45 apts.

    Zoning for apartment buildings under 10,000 sq ft need not to provide parking with the assumption most residents will prefer walking, biking and using public transportation…
    as RIPTA is on a downhill slide.

    Just sayin’…we’ve got to pay attention ASAP.
    Bobbi Hoollahan

    The Studentification of Wanskuck – Roseanne Camacho, February 28, 2024, The Providence Eye

    As a developer plans to place 58 student housing units in a historically Black neighborhood, residents react –  Steve Ahlquist, March 5, 2024

    Build Anything Anywhere Threatens Communities – Froma Harrop   Thursday, March 14, 2024, GoLocaProv

    Does building more luxury housing drive other rents up or down? – Sam Turken, GBH, updated 8/7/24


     

    To the Editor,

    The courageous piece is very important to communicate with one another. i think that is awesome. It should inspire you to talk. To air out old stuff and embrace new stuff. Learn one another and most of all yourself.

    -Gwen Richardson


    Dear Editor,

    I am writing to extend my gratitude for the recent comprehensive coverage of the Seal of Biliteracy in Providence Eye. Your thoughtful exploration of this subject, particularly the acknowledgment of ways that bilingualism can impact student’s academic and professional lives was wonderful. I wanted to note that the Seal of Biliteracy is one step in embracing  non-traditional language acquisition methods such as having a home language that you can then test for. Our Providence students have a wealth of talents and superpowers- bilingualism being one of them and having the Seal of Biliteracy is a wonderful way to uplift the diversity in our community and set them up for success.  As we navigate an increasingly interconnected world, your insights into the practical benefits students gain through this program underscore its relevance in preparing the next generation for success. Thank you for shedding light on this!

    Sincerely,

    Alicia Pratt

    Coordinator, Coalition for a Multilingual Rhode Island


    To the Editor,

    I am writing in response to the article, ‘‘Noise is the New Smoking.’ I’m relatively new to Providence, having moved here from New York a little over a year ago, and wholeheartedly agree with the author’s concern about the level of noise in and around Providence. My partner and I recently left our apartment complex after dealing with bothersome noise for over a year. Not only was there constant noise coming from the street, which is to be expected, but tenants in our building played loud music, did mechanical work on their cars and had raucous houseguests on a regular basis, seemingly oblivious to the quality of life of their neighbors. 

    While I agree that steps should be taken in an effort to curb noise levels, I’m doubtful that a City policy would do much to quiet this noise. At our apartment complex, neighbors resorted to calling the police to make a noise complaint. When the police arrived to address the complaint, the noise would stop briefly, but would start up again as soon as the police left. It raises the question of whether the responsibility for controlling noise should instead fall to landlords, building owners, or community associations that really want to hear a change. 

    In an age where very few people know their neighbors’ names (especially those of us who rent), I wonder if unfamiliarity with the people around us may play a role in this. It seems like people would prefer to file an anonymous complaint to local law enforcement rather than have a frank conversation with those responsible for the noise. 

    Having lived in other cities that are a comparable size to Providence, unnecessary noise seems to be a pervasive issue for which there are few solutions. I think that community outreach and a public information campaign is a good suggestion. However, it’s first necessary to identify those that are responsible for the noise and create a campaign that directly targets those individuals, demonstrating the mutual benefit of quieter communities and respect for neighbors. 

    -Nicholas Lopez


    Roseanne Camacho’s article on “The Studentification of Wanskuck” is a comprehensive and well-written account of a problem besetting many Providence neighborhoods, one that I suspect is only growing worse.  I do not agree with the member of the City Plan Commission who claimed that change “just happens.”  It is the result of human decision-making.  In a capitalist economy profit trumps community values, but thoughtful regulations can mitigate the impact.

    As a resident living a block away from Admiral Street, the epicenter of Strive’s activity in Wanskuck/Elmhurst so far, my neighbors and I wonder whether it’s only a matter of time until Strive invades our street, too, with its overpriced rental units driving up property values and pushing homeowners out of what is currently a diverse community.  We need to work with the city to confront this issue and save our housing stock for Providence residents before it is all gobbled up by big developers renting to short-term tenants with no investment in our neighborhoods.

    Patricia Raub


    Dear Pvd Eye,

    Thank you for running Roseanne Camacho’s article, “The Studentification of Wanskuck.” It was interesting to hear how residents in other parts of the city are impacted by “studentification.” Across Providence, student housing investors are buying up single-family as well as 2- and 3-family homes and converting them into mini-dorms. Rented to large groups of students on a per-room basis, these single- and small multi-family houses are very lucrative for the investors, while driving out families, driving up rents, and reducing opportunities for owner-occupants. In addition, these mini-dorms are often disruptive to neighbors, particularly when developers buy up swathes of homes on a single street.  

    This city-wide problem could certainly be fixed, freeing up more affordable rentals for long-term residents.  First, the city could enforce existing ordinances and City Council could strengthen rules that discourage investors from “dormifying” family homes in residential neighborhoods. Second, the city could press the colleges to cap the number of undergrads allowed to live off campus and to provide more on-campus housing. Third, the city could encourage the construction of student apartment buildings in appropriate areas. (The restoration of the former Fleet Bank Bank building downtown to serve as the RISD Library and a dormitory comes to mind as an exemplary student housing solution.) 

    It often seems that city officials give developers carte blanche instead of insisting on responsible, appropriate development that benefits all the city’s residents. Thank you again for an informative article, one I hope our city officials pay attention to. 

    Thank you,

    Nina Markov

    College Hill


    On Tuesday, February 20, the Providence Planning Commission hosted a presentation on the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. City staff presented maps describing strategies for promoting growth in Providence. The maps depicted priority areas with differing densities. Implicit in this work is the idea that the urban core of the downtown, hospital and North Main Street areas could sustain much needed growth, by way of infill development. The presentation was prefaced by a discussion about the need for additional housing. Indeed, the housing shortage is defining planning and policy development across the state and beyond. From a professional perspective, the goals of the 2024 Comp Plan Update are sensible and in many ways an obvious direction. So why are so many residents unhappy about the progress of this project?

    For Providence, the absence of qualitative language describing the plan, the absence of a vision statement and the absence of political leadership to define and promote a vision is striking. While this may not be intentional, the City is sending this message to the community: “The plan is the product of technocrats. We’ll provide a venue for your grievances, but there will be no meaningful engagement.” No one should be surprised by the endless parade of dissatisfied residents giving testimony at public meetings that yield little substantive plan development.

    In 2016 I was the chairman of the Newport Planning Board. When the time came to lead the Comprehensive Plan update, the city convened a group of elected officials, city staff, stakeholders and volunteers to serve as a steering committee for the plan update. Our meetings were open to the public. My background in academia and fine arts led me to first consider the vision statement. The committee spent hours poring over every word of the statement. We wanted to be clear about our intentions. A vision statement, like a a mission statement, puts purpose front and center. Successful board members know that a well constructed vision or mission does these three things; it provides a standard to evaluate priority, it gives force to implementation actions and most importantly, it galvanized support.

    During the Providence Planning Commission meeting, my mind started to wander to the great urbanist Jane Jacobs. Next I thought of Lewis Mumford, Daniel Burnham and Baron Haussmann. They all had a vision, and they spoke about their vision with striking qualitative language. Burnham promoted Chicago as a “Paris on the Prairie”, while Mumford emphasized an “organic” relationship between people and their environments. Great places start with great ideas. What is the animating idea for the 2024 Comp Plan? The residents of Providence sense that there is no overarching purpose to the plan and they wish it was otherwise.

    Kim Salerno


    To the Editor re Tree Mathematics,

    Given the bleak state of the climate crisis, few documents paint a picture of great hope. Still, residents of Providence, RI have produced work that offers some local respite over the last few years.

    Providence’s vibrant, eclectic grassroots organizers have been building community power and offering us information and hope. The Providence Tree Plan (The Plan) is an exceptional manifestation of what a resilient community could be. Following up on the Climate Justice Plan authored by the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC) with assistance from the Sustainability Department of Providence, in late 2019 this group galvanized community-led public-private partnerships. Led by Jo-Ann Ayuso the Founding Director of Movement Education Outdoors (MEO), Tonay Gooday Ervin, Inventory Arborist and Massachusetts Certified Arborist, and Leandro Kufa Castro Artist & Community Organizer, the various organizations and leaders came together to produce The Providence Tree Plan. Their lived experience coupled with their experience in community and most important of all a reverence for ancestral and indigenous practice, this small group of community champions embarked on a multi-year journey that would result in this policy manual that is essentially an open invitation to all who are interested to stop, take a deep breath, and give thanks to the trees.

    From late 2019 to December 12, 2023 when The Plan was officially launched was a beautiful and complex test of patience. Over 800 community members were surveyed in 10 plus languages, interviewed, and a multitude of committees were set up to create a community-led think tank that would produce The Providence Tree Plan.

    Reading The Plan it is obvious that our state and community have a unique opportunity. The pages are peppered with both community comments and well-researched areas concerning how trees impact their environment from an ancestral holistic point of view. These two quotes directly from the plan speak to the readable language and the great neighbors that trees make:

    “Trees reduce childhood asthma. Research shows that an increase of 343 trees per square kilometer is associated with a 24% lower rate of asthma and a 26% lower risk of hospitalization as a result of asthma. By reducing rates of childhood asthma, respiratory illness, heart disease, and other health problems that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color in Providence, planting trees can be a tool for repairing the effects of systemic racism.” (pg. 9)

    And, “For every dollar spent on tree planting and maintenance, the City of Providence reaps at least $3.33 in benefits.” (pg. 13)

    The City of Providence has approved a $583,213,211 budget – $63,438,710 of which is designated to the Public Works Department ($30,471,313), Parks Department ($17,124,120) and Public Property ($15,843,277).

    The people have spoken. The money is available and there is potential for more to come. On page IV the authors suggest the City of Providence “…require an annual investment of at least $2.7 million for ten years, paired with sustained investment in city-wide capacity-building and workforce training”. The rough math tells us that’s 0.46% of the total budget and 4.2 % of the budget of the aforementioned departments. As Leandro Kufa Castro stated “…after going to City Hall and knowing how many Master Plans are collecting dust on their shelves, I knew that I had to return back to the people, organize, and listen.”

    Through exemplary community leadership, we now have illuminating policy manuals like the Climate Justice Plan and the PVD Tree Plan to chart a path forward in these bleak times of environmental, racial, health, and economic crisis. The community has spoken. Now the question is: will public officials take the actions that the community has clearly laid out with great effort, intention, and care. The Tree Plan is a public voice inviting all those willing to collaborate to work in concert to create a beautiful and resilient future.

    For more information about the plan, please visit:

    The PVD Tree Plan

    Signed
    Everett Pope Roots 2 Empower

    Greg Gerritt Prosper For RI


    To the Editor,

    I am increasingly concerned about the behavior of some drivers in Providence. It is affecting our quality of life.

    Drivers seem unaware of stop signs and sometimes drive through them without pausing. This is the most egregious behavior I observe. Others simply slow down and look in one direction for oncoming cars before continuing.

    Both behaviors pose a serious risk to other cars and to pedestrians, particularly the very young and the elderly or infirm.

    Pedestrians have been killed crossing North Main Street. Without any penalties for running stop signs, it is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is killed crossing a residential street. And injuries can be life changing.

    I called 311 in October to report drivers ignoring the stop signs at Taber and Irving Avenues, the block on which I live. I check frequently for an update on a response to my report, and thus far, nothing has been done. The disregard has only gotten worse. I am 87 and cross the street often on walks. My neighbor, 95, also crosses at that corner. A number of children also cross the street without adults.

    Please address this issue in our increasingly livable city.

    Sincerely yours,

    Anna Browder


    To the editor,

    Thank you for your coverage of the overdose prevention center (OPC) that will soon be opening in Providence. It was great to read the article on Valentine’s Day since OPCs — and harm reduction more broadly — are all about providing love & care! Here in Providence, our responses to the overdose crisis need to be compassionate and evidence-based and OPCs are exactly that. 

    Like the article says, Rhode Island is now leading the way for the rest of the nation. Of course, being the first state in the country to take this step is exciting, but it can also feel like new ground. Recognizing this, a new website from Brown — opcinfo.org — has compiled the longstanding national and international evidence demonstrating how OPCs reduce overdose deaths, connect people to treatment, save communities money, and make our communities safer.

    Finally, thank you for bringing attention to Project Weber/RENEW’s continued advocacy and all the work they’re putting into opening this site! Research has shown the benefits of integrating OPCs into existing harm reduction organizations that are trusted by folks who use drugs. In this way, it’s so important that our OPC is going to be operated by an organization that has consistently demonstrated its love for and commitment to the Providence community. 

    Thank you again for this important coverage!
    Katherine Dunham

    Brown University School of Public Health


    Good Morning/ I remember when that school was built. It was a great gift to the community and area. it has not been there very long and is about to close. This will impact the community and families. My nieces and nephew went to that school and are now in college. it has a great structure for the communities and families. I feel they should look at this as a bigger picture than just enrollment. maybe there could be a campaign of some sort—just a suggestion.

    Gwen Richardson


    To the Editor,

    Time and again I am really impressed with the Providence Eye’s coverage of topics that are so important to our community, but sadly receive little or no coverage from the local mainstream media.  Topics like the planned closing of 360 High School and other matters concerning the Providence Schools;  the importance of the federal Farm Bill to our urban community; underfunding of RIPTA; and  the Providence Tree Planting Program, to name just a few. Your articles are thorough and thoughtful and bring a strong focus to impacts on individuals and the community at large. Your Culture Calendar is also great.  Keep it coming!

    Catherine Schneider


    To the Editor:

    The concept of “demolition delay” was new to me when I read about it in Brent Runyon’s Providence Eye article of January 24.  I was therefore pleased to read today, in Ward One Councilman John Goncalves’ latest newsletter, that he has introduced an amendment to the  City Council to strengthen existing regulations instituted a few years ago, on demolition notification requirements and demolition transparency. Hooray for The Providence Eye for being on the cutting edge of this important matter.

    Sarah Gleason


    DONUTS??? Made with refined flour from questionable agricultural practices, covered with refined (probably imported) sugar and dunked in oil that is only renewed every few days, donuts should not be glorified as they only hold a negative food value (high sugars, non-digestible oils and highly refined gluten laden infrastructure!)

    I’ve had ONE donut in my life, when I first arrived in the US … I felt like I had swallowed a non-food item!

    You can  answer by saying that my version (beignets) suffer from the same ignoble recipe, but at least they contain a piece of apple instead of a hole in the middle.

    I’m sorry that RI holds the record of more donuts per capita in the US!

    Fondly,

    Someone who loves Providence for reasons other than donuts


    To the Editor,

    I’m a failed school teacher. I failed at teaching for several reasons, some of them my own doing, others not.

    Reading Jonathan Howard’s piece on the state takeover of Providence schools (PPSD Teachers Struggle to be Heard by the RI Board of Education, February 7, 2024) reminded me of the experience and why I left after my first day.

    After the Johns Hopkins report came out, I joined the Providence Parents Advisory Council to better understand the problems and how the state takeover might address them. The group meets every six weeks, attended by the RIDE Commissioner, the PPSD Superintendent, and a bevy of parents, community leaders, and administration folks. I attended for three years. A major pillar of the takeover plan was attracting highly qualified teachers.

    I had been very involved at my daughter’s middle school and teaching felt like it would be a good fit for me. I had two degrees in music and I knew that the district needed music teachers. So in May last year I took the plunge, not really knowing the full landscape but committed to making a go of it. I went down the list: Learn the curriculum, pass the Praxis test, get RIDE certification, prep for interviews and land a job. But the sheer quantity of information that needed to be learned and retained became daunting. And it was a moving goalpost: each time I turned a corner there was a mountain of new information to know.

    This happened over and over, and the clock was ticking. It got scary.

    By the time I arrived at DelSesto middle school on my first day, I was already burned out. The preceding week of “professional development” training sessions for the teachers had piled even more onto the heap: state and district policies/regulations, software/communications, classroom technology, scheduling, union matters, emergency planning, medical contingencies, and active shooter scenarios. 

    And I was warned about class rosters: beside each name could be one or more color-coded flags alerting the teacher to special accommodations for students with food allergies, health conditions, learning disabilities, IEPs, 504s, Special Ed. needs, and students with severe mental and/or physical disabilities. I looked at my class rosters and they were lit up like Christmas trees.

    How was I qualified for this?

    I wanted to bring my passion for music and hopefully inspire some young minds. But the reality is that you’re a child-sitter first, educator second. I didn’t know that.

    I should have been better prepared. A semester of substitute teaching would have mentally equipped me for the rigors of a K-12 classroom—in an inner city school in a troubled district.

    But that’s not why I quit after my first day. My schedule crushed me. Four 65-minute classes starting at 7:45 a.m. every day. No breaks. By 12:30 p.m.—almost 5 hours later—I knew I couldn’t do the job. It was relentless. 

    In fact, it was unreasonable.

    Who sets that kind of schedule for a new teacher? You’re not going to hold onto new talent by throwing them into the deep end. The staff at DelSesto were stretched thin, and were as supportive as they could be, but it wasn’t enough. I’m not at all surprised that so many teachers resigned this year.

    RIDE’s takeover may have produced some successes but my experience left me with the impression that there are more fundamental, practical problems that remain unsolved. Teachers are not magicians. Neither are school administrators. Neither is the district nor the Department of Education. And despite the amazing people I met on my path—tireless, dedicated educators who put up with far more than they should ever have to—there just aren’t enough of them.

    As I see it, Providence’s educational system is confronted by a particular combination of difficult problems. It  feels like a microcosm of larger societal failures. I don’t pretend to know what the solutions are but education in Providence is not happening as it should. It can’t be blamed on teachers, and it can’t all be blamed on the district or the state either.

    So where does that leave us?

     

    Emlyn Addison

    Providence, RI


    To the Editor,

    I have enjoyed all of the articles which are very informational. I am very impressed with the school department because we need more teachers and counselors and teachers. My family is educators and i fully understand that they are much needed in this day and time. I truly recommend them all in all that they do. The snap program is needed because alot of parents depend on that extra help to assisted in providing for there feed families. if any of these programs are taken away this will devastated them. Thank you for the input about the prison and the numbers. 

     

    Gwen Richardson


    To the Editor,

    Thank you for the incarcerations article in the Providence Eye. 

    Interesting to see that RI has what looks like the 3rd lowest incarceration rate in the country (followed by Maine and MA). I need to be led through the race/income portion of the national data, but here is a link to some: https://www.sentencingproject.org/research/us-criminal-justice-data/.

    Looks like the USA is something like 6th highest in the world. Such a disgrace. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate

    Thank you for caring,

    Parker James 


    The Benefits of Riding RIPTA

    Upon reading Watching as the Bus System Drives Over the Cliff by Barry Schiller and Patricia Raub  11/22/2023 The Providence Eye, thoughts gravitated to how much I enjoy taking a RIPTA bus and the many wonderful people I meet in doing so.

    A RIPTA bus is the perfect place to mingle with everyday people and the place to be pleasantly surprised by the people one meets.

    Upon getting on and taking a seat on a RIPTA bus, the obvious thing to do is look at who is next to or across from you. A “Hello” is just about always answered the same way.  Two travellers sitting close to each other – what an opportunity to acknowledge each other – to show that we see each other’s humanness.  That.we have briefly communicated  is wonderful in itself,  especially since the norm in this culture is to remain distant and isolated from each other. No wonder loneliness is an epidemic in this country. 

    A RIPTA bus can be likened to a church or temple  – a sacred space – sacred here meaning deserves veneration,and veneration meaning generates a feeling  of awe, respect. Looking at the faces of  the bus passengers one can wonder where each person came from as most of us directly or indirectly came from a different place or country and suffered the many challenges most experience navigating this culture. Each and every person has a life story to share.

    So we have said our “Hello”. The ice is melting.  Maybe we comment on the weather or express curiousity regards a passenger’s accent by asking where is the accent from – 30 percent of the residents of Providence came from another country. Overall, everyone welcomes conversation and just feel good about this.

    Some of my favorite RIPTA memories:  

    A Syrian man new to this country teaching a woman and I the Arabic words for Hello,  Thank You,  Goodbye, with a twinkle in his eye.

    Seeing the love of a father and baby daughter who are regular passengers on a  bus line I take.

    The smiles of seeing passengers and bus drivers who are familiar. 

    So it is time for one of us to pull the stop chord and get ready to get off the bus. We say our “Goodbye” or “Take Care”. With Providence not being a huge city, chances are the two passengers will see each other again. Both were friendly – kind and pleasant.  When we get to know a passenger’s first name, best to write it down so we will know it when we meet again – and don’t forget the bus drivers.

    Other benefits of taking public transportation is that the more people who do so, the better the chances for funding this transportation.

    Taking the bus means that we have to walk to a bus stop and wait for the bus. This means we exercise and get to spend time outdoors.

    Of course it will be a joy to see you on a bus!!!

    – Phil Edmonds  Providence


    To The Editor:

    I enjoyed reading Emlyn Addison’s article on how Providence should utilize their food scraps instead of letting them rot in the Central Landfill. I am a bike hauler for Harvest Cycle Compost, featured in the story, and I spend my days biking year round on our city’s connected cycle network picking up food scraps from the eleven drop-off points around the city and from individual subscribers who pay a little bit more to have their food scraps picked up at their doorstep. Last year, my coworker and I biked 7,000 miles and collected over 221,000 lbs. of food scraps.

    This job is possible because we have an electric-assisted bicycle (crucial on the hilly East Side) and an extensive network of urban trails all over the city. I don’t ride if it’s raining heavily but when it’s cold, I just wear a few more layers. Even a bad day on the bike is better than a good day checking emails, amirite? I love this job because it allows me to interact with my neighbors and it makes me feel like I’m doing something productive to combat the climate crisis. 

    I’m hopeful for the future because community composting is catching on and more people are seeing that food scrap is not trash and that it can be transformed into something that helps our soil and our planet. Best of all, we can recover it all with just a few bicycles, not a fleet of trucks. 

    Tyson Bottenus


    To the Editor,

    My experience living in Providence is that alot of buildings have history to the communities. I think sometimes we don’t investigate enough concerning it. The Elmwood area has a lot of historical buildings and big houses. The Eastside and difference parts of Providence.  They should be recognized as well. If would be nice if someone could have the building that they are historical be noted that they are so the public can recognize them.

    Gwen Richardson


    Hi Patricia and Barry, 

    Great articles. Great article on the R–Line. My home bus stop is North Burial Ground. Waiting is bothersome but not life altering. I am more disturbed, especially in warmer weather, about sitting on those filthy seats. Are they ever cleaned? 

    sylvia ann


    To the Editor:

    About The R Line. I take the bus everyday to work for now.  But even before, I understood how important the bus is to people. They have no other transportation and no other way to get around.  That particular bus line is a lifeline to the community. It is in the middle of everything in that particular community.  If it is taken away the community will have to come up with other means of transportation. Some people can not afford that due to some are on fixed incomes. I hope they do reconsider this option of not shutting it down.

    Thank You,

    Gwen Richardson 


    To the editor,

    I read Brent Runyon’s article on demolition.  I am also reading an excellent highly recommended book, Native Providence, about the native people who lived in Providence at the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century.  It pointed out how many places associated with Native Americans in the city have been demolished.  It is always the same excuse, making more money for the real estate scum.  If we could break the hold of the real estate industry on Providence (and all communities) we could have much nicer cities to live in. 

    greg gerritt 


    To the Editor:

    As someone who uses my bike to commute, it is shocking and insulting that the bike lanes in this city have not been touched since the snowstorm. I work downtown, and usually use the system of bike lanes that traverse downtown and the canal on my commute. Since the storm, every bike lane I pass is still completely iced over, and is invariably surrounded by carefully shoveled and salted roads and sidewalks. Bikes use the city even in bad weather, and this is clearly a deliberate choice to ignore bike infrastructure, given the very different state of the roadways to either side of the bike lanes. Mayor Brett Smiley is sending a message to taxpaying cyclists and commuters in this city that bikes are a subaltern means of transportation. Not only is this regressive and irresponsible from a climate viewpoint, in the immediate term it forces bikes either onto sidewalks, where they are a risk to pedestrians, or onto icy and narrowed roadways, increasing the risk of collisions with cars. If this remains the policy, injury to a citizen will undoubtedly occur, at which point the Mayor’s office will have blood on their hands.

    Joel, a city bike rider


    To the editor,

    I’ve really been enjoying Jon Howard’s articles. Although I worked for 20 years for PPSD, I’m learning a lot, and the details I already know about, I’ve agreed with. Great writing, too!

    Sarah Morenon


    To the Editor:

    I really appreciate Jonathan Howard’s Providence Counts on what Providence residents do for work, but I feel left out.  My guess is he left many of us out due to the categories offered by the Federal Government in which the 999000 category is “other”.   This leaves out writers, researchers who do not work for corporations or universities, and advocates who are not lawyers.  I always wonder why the government has such a poor delineation of what I and people like me do.  Lumping everyone else into “other” is just plain dumb.

     

    Greg Gerritt  Activist, Writer, forest gnome


    To The Editor:

    It may surprise readers to know that our state senators have been prevented from casting votes on legislation that would curb 260% interest rates, ban the sale of assault weapons, and make our casinos smoke-free. 

    As the 2024 General Assembly convenes, there is public speculation about whether the Senate President can be persuaded to allow votes to take place on these and other bills that were blocked in previous years. Some have been stalled for more than a decade, despite widespread popular support.

    The nonpartisan organization Common Cause rates Rhode Island 49th of 50 states for the democratic practices of our legislature. While open debates and roll call votes routinely take place in other states, here bills do not move out of committee without the permission of the Senate President or the Speaker of the House.  

    2024 is an election year. In a healthy democracy, the people know where their representatives stand on critical issues. Legislators should be required to vote on the record, so we can make informed choices at the ballot box.  

    To learn more about the state of our democracy, consider attending a free educational session by Common Cause RI on January 27thEvents – Common Cause Rhode Island

    Kate McGovern 

    Providence


    Hello, 

    My name is Dana Goodman with NEC Solar. I know I’ve come across some of you in the past (hi Deb) and may be familiar with others. 

    I simply wanted to write a quick response to one part of the article about solar panels regarding signing contracts before receiving an estimate. I do not know who asked you to do that (I have my ideas), but I would argue it is an unethical practice and shouldn’t be normalized. We at NEC would NEVER ask a client to sign a contract without delivering a financial quote and fully explaining the client’s financial obligations to them. At times, there may be parts of the project that need to be adjusted for pricing after a site inspection, but having a client sign a contract without a price quote or any financial information isn’t something that we would do, nor do we support that practice from our contemporaries.  

    I would welcome a longer discussion if you’d like to speak to me about it. 

    Take care, 

    Dana


    To the Editor,

    I was excited to read that Brown University was moving its Haffenreffer Museum collection to One Davol Square. It will be catalogued and accessible to researchers and eventually placed in exhibit spaces there for the public to enjoy. Hurrah! Another site to visit in the Jewelry District. 

    And does your well-informed contributor, Roseanne Camacho, or any of your readers, know the status of the Providence Jewelry Museum which was supposed to move from Cranston to the nearby Palmer House on Chestnut Street? 

    Thanks, Providence Eye, for keeping us informed on all that’s Providence!

    Nini Stoddard


    Dear Providence Eye,

    I was interested to see the data gathered by Jonathan Howard  in “Housing costs in Providence” (November 23, 2023) and, since I am not a housing specialist, would love to know more. One question I had was about the disparity between households and housing units–there are 72,767 households and 79,203 units, so some six thousand units are not rented, apparently. Given the housing shortage, why aren’t these units filled? Are these empty units unsuitable because of their poor quality, their location, their size, or some other reason? That is, is the reason for the vacancies simply that these units don’t meet the needs of those looking for housing?  Is it normal to have a certain percentage of unrented units, even in a tight market? The assumption widely held is that more supply will bring rents down: How many additional units do we need before the supply begins to bring rents down? There is a lot of new construction happening in Providence–how many units are being added, when will they become available, and when can we expect to feel the effect of that new construction on rents? I have heard the argument that the new units don’t necessarily have to be “affordable” to have an effect on lowering rents, that the effect will be felt “downstream,” meaning that the rent in older housing will go down as people who can afford the new rentals move into them, freeing up older housing. But can we rely on the rental market to react this way? Can we predict if the new construction will bring in people from higher rent cities like Boston and New York? I also would appreciate some insight into when density does or does not create more affordability, since some of the densest cities have some of the highest rents. In short, I would love more context for this interesting data.

    Thank you,

    Nina M


    To the editors:

    Thanks for including Delia Hall’s piece on the Feinstein CDC. One of my children recently finished at the CDC; this piece was very informative since my child never told me what they did all day, and now I finally know! Joking aside, I loved being a part of the community at Feinstein. I am writing highlight Delia’s comments about the challenges of finding and retaining early childhood educators. I wonder if this is something the PVD EYE might be able to report more on disparities in access to high quality early childcare and factors contributing to this across the city.  As a parent of  young children we have participated activities with RIght from the Start  https://rightfromthestartri.org/ to help raise awareness about amd lobby for funding to support the needs of young children and their families. What should we know about access to early childhood education in Providence? What sorts of city based initiatives are there to train, support, retain and compensate early chilhood educators? What happens when we do this well or if we dont? How can families and voters get more involved? 

    Thanks to all the teachers, and to your staff, for all that you do.

    Kira Neel


    Hello everyone! 

    I hope you’ll be able to join us this Thursday afternoon for the first Save RIPTA rally & press conference where we’ll be calling on Governor McKee to fund RIPTA so that we can prevent the fiscal cliff, raise wages for bus drivers, and start implementing the Transit Master Plan. 

    Thursday, November 30th 

    2:30pm

    Kennedy Plaza 

    Co-Hosted by:

    • RI Transit Riders
    • Providence Streets Coalition
    • Progreso Latino 
    • RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty
    • ATU 618
    • RI AFL-CIO
    • SEIU 
    • Providence Student Union 

    and maybe more! 

    Feel free to bring signs or just yourselves! 

    Hope to see you there,

    Liza


    Dear editor,

    Because I have a disability that makes it hard for me to walk, RIPTA is an important part of my independence. When I lived in Woonsocket, I would take the bus to Providence and ride bus line to bus line until I got wherever I needed to go. Someone needs to find a solution to fix the RIPTA budget before the buses get cut back and people like me, living far from the main bus lines in Providence, get left stranded at home.

    Edward Soares


    Dear editor:

    I don’t know how anyone imagines our state is ever going to reach its climate goals without not just a working public transit system, but one that is attractive enough to pull at least a few people from their cars. The 2021 Act on Climate was a great piece of legislation, but it only set out goals. Now we have to, you know, meet them.

    I hope people will understand that even if they never ride the bus, having a working bus system is worth advocating for, and worth spending state money on. Fewer vehicles on the roads means cleaner air and less traffic: good for everyone, even the remaining cars.

     -Tom Sgouros


    Dear Editor,

    I appreciated your recent article on the past and future of Cranston Street Armory. I can see this wonderful building from my kitchen window every morning over the rooftops. It’s disappointing to see its future still up in the air after watching various efforts over the last years. 

    I’m constantly shocked by the large price tags associated with the rehabilitation. Really the condition is not so bad inside. With a little more flexibility, creativity, and common sense, I’m sure the building could be put back into beneficial use for the city and the neighborhood quickly and for far less. Then as the building proves its worth, additional upgrades and improvements can follow. Our current practice of nothing or everything tends to result in a lot of nothing, when getting something done and incrementally improving would be a much better approach. It is, after all, the way our ancestors incrementally built this city up in the first place. 

    I wish the City the best of luck in acquiring control of the building in the near future so that the project can move forward.

    Seth Zeren

    31 Harrison Street


    Dear Editor,

    My girlfriend, Randi, and I both appreciated Barbara Morin’s article, ‘Why is Providence’s Largest Pond Invisible?’  in the November 15 edition of The Providence Eye. Randi and I relocated across the country to Providence this past summer and are presently living in the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood, very near by Mashapaug Pond. We both enjoy walking the streets in the neighborhood, especially those that border on the pond and a pretty, quiet grassy area with a walk/run trail the circumvents that area, just behind the Alvarez High School. This area is right by the pond and together the two are a wonderful oasis. Having the pond enriches the neighborhood but at the same time we are aware of the high level of pollution it has been poisoned by. One thinks on how wonderful it must have been in days past when Mashapaug Pond was clean and enjoyed so much by folks living in the neighborhood. It was heartening to read Barbara’s article and learn about the various efforts to hopefully one day restore the pond to a healthy state that once again it can be a rich part of the lives of people who live in its area.

    Tony Sager


    To the Editor,

    Director of Transportation Alviti should be fired for endangering pedestrians and bicycle riders as well as his total disregard for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Greg Gerritt


    Dear Editor,

    I am writing to express my deep concern about the alarming state of safety on Providence and Rhode Island streets, as highlighted by the recent release of crash data obtained by the Providence Streets Coalition from the City. Perhaps most disturbing is RIDOT’s desire to hide this important data, and keep it from the public. 

    Having just been a victim of a crash myself (and – no less, a drunk driver, who has faced no consequences for driving drunk and unlicensed, or for lying to the police, which is one of those things that sounds illegal but is in fact very legal), I have dealt with missed work, medical treatment, and a weekly deluge of medical bills arriving in my mailbox. When I told people about my crash, everyone was upset, but nobody was surprised. We have made ourselves so numb and immune to traffic violence that we accept it as an inevitable fact of life.

    Even more alarming is the fact that traffic fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists are on the rise each year. In fact, they have doubled nationally since 2010. The reason for this is obvious – more big, dangerous, oversized vehicles. Heavy vehicles with high hoods (think – Chevy Silverado, Chevy Suburban, anything by GMC) are becoming more and more popular each year. They have poor visibility, and their size alone blocks visibility for other road users, especially at intersections (and even when parked). The high hoods are far more likely to result in fatal injuries for pedestrians and cyclists. We know that vehicles with hoods over 40 inches are far more likely to kill a pedestrian than a reasonably-sized sedan. Even mid-size vehicles, like the Jeep Renegade, are now being sold with square-shaped hoods, which provide ZERO mechanical or aerodynamic benefit, but significantly increase the risk of death to pedestrians. Should we really be sacrificing people’s lives for the sake of car fashion? 

    The Ford F-150 is the most popular car sold in America, and most of the trucks I see look pristine and appear rarely used for hauling. Why do some people have the right to populate the roads with dangerous vehicles, at the expense of other peoples’ safety and well-being? We should not have to share public space with these dangerous vehicles, and they do not belong on public roads. Beyond that, those of us who drive smaller cars should not have to financially subsidize the immense damage these heavy vehicles do to public roads (which is X to the factor of 4. If you don’t remember exponents from high school math class, this means that a 4,000 lb vehicle does 32 times as much road damage traveling the same distance as a 2000 lb vehicle). 

    Even though the federal government refuses to consider serious action on this growing threat, I envision a variety of ways in which we could consider tackling it in Rhode Island. Some cities in Europe have entirely banned large SUVs and trucks in their city centers – and for good reason. It’s unfair that all of us should have to shoulder the danger, the financial expense, the road damage, the poor visibility, and the increased risk of fatal crashes that these vehicles cause.  In Rhode Island, I’d suggest an annual vehicle-use tax for non-commercial vehicles with hoods higher than 40 inches, based on a combination of vehicle weight and hood height, with the tax proceeds to go towards *real* decongestion and safety measures, like improved public transit, ADA compliant sidewalks, bike lanes, and many more multi-modal options. It’s not unprecedented to use financial incentives like this;  that’s why we tax cigarettes but not broccoli. 

    The current state of affairs in Rhode Island, especially as revealed in the Transportation Advisory Committee meeting, which I attended at RIPTA headquarters in October, paints a grim picture. The comments made by Michael Walker, the committee chair, which expressed far more concern with increasing traffic speed than with protecting people’s lives, were insensitive and ham-fisted. Can we realistically expect progress when we appoint people stuck in failed 20th century paradigms to important decision-making positions? When RIDOT itself clearly states that it would rather widen highways than focus on road-user safety, it’s obvious where their loyalties lie. The 40,000 Americans killed every year by traffic violence simply aren’t a priority. 

    It is ridiculous that we should have to beg and plead and grovel for something as basic as human safety in one of the world’s richest countries. It’s unconscionable. It’s unfair. It’s disgusting. Our public roadways should not be the site of an arms race to see who can get the biggest weapon the fastest. We need real policy changes that makes road-user safety the absolute, #1 priority. To do any less is heartless. Please, will someone tell RIDOT to put the yellow brick road in their GPS? Maybe at the end of it, they’ll find a heart. 

    Your Concerned Citizen, 
    Alana Deluty


     

    Letter to the Editor: Get the Lead Out

    Thank you, Roseanne Camacho of The Providence Eye, the weekly e-newsletter, for informing your readers about the often neglected but serious issue of childhood lead poisoning. Lead hazards are prevalent in paint and soil from older housing and from drinking water for those who visit/live in a home with lead pipes. There is no safe level of lead exposure! As the article indicated, free lead service line replacements may now be available, particularly in underserved communities. Until lead pipes are replaced, short-term safety measures should be considered, using a lead-removal-certified water filter (look for SF/ANSI Standard 53 or higher) and only use filtered or bottled water for cooking, drinking and baby formula.

    The Lead-Free Water RI Coalition is fighting for safer, cleaner drinking water for all – to find out more or to get involved, contact the Childhood Lead Action Project @ 785-1310 or email info@leadsafekids.org.

    Roberta Hazen Aaronson
    founder and former Executive Director
    Childhood Lead Action Project


    To the Editor:

    The recent article in the Providence Eye from 11/1/23 regarding Brown’s BIRCH initiative makes an interesting juxtaposition with an earlier article focusing on Providence Community Health Centers.  While the investment in medical research, and creating a life sciences “hub” in Providence would no doubt bring a needed economic boost to the city and state, its effect on the health of Rhode Islanders would be be indirect, and far in the future.  If the same amount of interest, innovation and investment were made in the network of primary care providers in Rhode Island, its effect on the health of the people of the state would be much more direct and immediately impactful.  Let’s not forget the basics!

    P. Shube MD


    I am not only finding the articles good reading and very informative but I also love the civic calendar and other event listings… I don’t know of any organization, newspaper  or magazine that has the civic meetings each month so please don’t let it go! 
    You’re doing an amazing thing! 
    Great job!  
    Lily  Bogosian


     

    Dear Editor

    Been hearing from some folks on how they look forward to getting The Providence Eye every Wednesday morning..A few thoughts to share. 

    Community does not just happen any more.  It is now the norm in this culture to live disconnected from each other and in isolation.  Community is like a garden – it needs tending to, too. The Providence Eye has a good weekly calendar of art/culture events and is growing.  Also has insightful and well-written articles that we all can relate to and learn from.  Readers, please send notice to your friends asking them to subscribe to The Eye -send them the link. Subscription is free. 

    When we know what is going on in our communities, chances are better that we will get out of the house more, meet people, and have fun doing so.

    Hope to see you out and about!

    Phil Edmonds


    Dear Editor,

    Patricia Raub and Barry Schiller’s excellent article on the Transit Master Plan struck a mostly hopeful tone while enumerating all of the benefits of the plan-later service on dozens of lines, more frequent service, green light prioritization of buses and more transit hubs. The Transit Master Plan could transform transit in Rhode Island forever and make us a national leader with our unique statewide system. Already RIPTA operates in 36 of 39 towns and 80% of Rhode Islanders live within 10 minutes of a bus stop. All of the infrastructure we need to have a first-class transit system is already there, it just needs to be fully funded and expanded. So why isn’t this plan being implemented right now?

    One reason is the prejudice of politicians against public transit and bus riders. We all know that bus riders don’t make big campaign donations and how many conservative politicians-yes, even Democrats-look down upon poor people and blame their ills on personal failings rather than structural problems such as lack of good transportation. RIPTA, for all the scuttlebut around town, is actually very well run and efficient by all measures. There isn’t much to hide in a lean $125 million dollar budget and figures are publicly available to see online. But it’s politically advantageous for new board chair Peter Alviti to question RIPTA’s finances so he can swoop in, enact reforms and be the hero of the day. I would rather he help implement the Transit Master plan and be a climate hero instead.

    Sincerely,

    Amy Joy Glidden

    The writer is the co-chair of Rhode Island Transit Riders, but this letter should not be construed as representing the views of any organization.


    To the editor

    I appreciated Roseanne Camacho and Bradly Vanderstad’s article about Providence’s lead pipes. Our middle child had high lead levels in the 90’s and we had no knowledge when or how the city was working on street pipes. Every once in a while we could see the discoloration in our water and would make the connection, but often it was too late- the water down our throats.

    Julie Van Noppen


    Dear Providence Eye,

    Thank you for publishing the article by Leah Bamberger “Monarchs and Milkweed: A Providence Tale” about the pollinators in our backyard and the harmful chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers we have all-too-easy access and exposure to. What resonated with me was what Leah wrote towards the conclusion of her piece, about hoping more large property owners follow suit of the Providence Parks Department to plant natives, pledge to not use harmful classes of products such as neonicotinoids, and also to use Integrated Pest Management strategies. I am now curious about what strategies and policies our city’s largest property owners have in place or are planning to implement around the topics of IPM, native plantings, and chemical applications (herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer). Thank you for giving me a jumping off point to become more informed about the local impacts of this global issue. 

    Best, 
    Carla Doughty


    Dear Providence Eye:

    I am enjoying reading the articles that you publish every Wednesday and I am encouraging my friends and neighbors to join and become a bit more informed around our City.

    The article on “Participatory Budgeting” that Cynthia Gibson wrote last week really resonated with me. I am on the Board of Community MusicWorks and this would be a good way of involving Staff, Board and students in having a say in how future Grant and Endowment funds are spent.

    Keep up the great writing!
    Margot Warner


    To The Providence Eye:

    Great issue! I found both articles extremely relevant. But thanks especially to John Howard for clarifying what’s been going on with the Providence Schools during the recent disastrous years. I was for a while an observer of Providence School Board meetings for the Providence League of Women Voters, but gave up when zoomed meetings became impossible to follow. This article offers a glimmer of hope  by making sense of our chaotic system, a much-needed baseline for moving ahead.

    Sarah Gleason


    Thank you for your posts!

    I’ll tell you why I don’t take the bus: it takes an hour and a half to get from my house to my place of work, not even 9 miles! I used to bicycle until two of my housemates had accidents caused by careless car drivers and by the lack of bicycle lanes; ever been to Holland, or France where bicyclists have dedicated lanes and car drivers don’t have the right of way?

    I’ve traveled quite a bit in places like Mexico where you can take a bus to the smallest village (if you’re willing to share it with farmers bringing their chicken and pigs on board!). This a car country!

    Best,
    W