Community

Neighborhood News June 2017

Neighborhood News is a space that East Side Monthly makes available to community organizations free of charge. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of this publication.

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Summit Neighborhood Association
Community Gardens Project Becomes Seedy After Five Years

After about five years of preparation, the Summit Neighborhood Community Garden has finally gone to seed.

On Earth Day – Saturday, April 22 – the hardy gardeners braved a slight drizzle to distribute mulch along the paths between the raised beds, which had been filled with soil the previous weekend. In addition to the mulching, there were free seeds offered to the public from the supply provided to the workers by the University of Rhode Island as well as starter plants for sale. This was in conjunction with the Parks Department’s city-wide cleanup activities.

Already, some of the beds have seeds planted and sections laid out, with more to come as the weather improves. It is the culmination of a project begun by the Summit Neighborhood Association about five years ago.

SNA started with extensive public-opinion polling of the neighborhood as to interest in community gardens as well as fears that the effort would reduce the area occupied by the “tot lot.” 

As about 80 percent of those polled responded favorably to the concept of gardens, the Parks Department got on board with a design to refurbish the entire playground as well as lay out the gardens. Several public meetings were held to introduce the plan and react to suggestions. More polling about the specifics of the proposal was done and met with general approval.

Miriam Hospital was approached for funds and enthusiastically responded. The garden part of the project was scheduled to be tackled first. SNA continues to work with the city on completing the playground renewal.

A core group of garden planners was established and took over the implementation of the design, putting in weeks of organizing and ultimately building fences and raised beds. People who worked on the project from the beginning were guaranteed plots, with the rest to be determined by a lottery. Fortunately, the number of gardeners seeking plots exactly matched the number of plots available.

Still to come in the garden is a work shed to be provided by the Parks Department, which had already installed a water line. 

But the green thumbs of the gardeners have been busy and seeds have been planted. As the vegetables and flowers grow, so will the opportunity for the children in the park to participate and learn from the blossoming community gardens.

For the latest information or to get on the waiting list for a garden plot, go to their website, SummitCommunityGarden.org.

Residents Invited to Directors Meetings
The SNA board of directors meets at 7pm on the third Monday of every month in the cafeteria of Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Avenue. The sessions are open and neighborhood residents are encouraged to attend. Summit Neighborhood Association, PO Box 41092, Providence, RI 02940. 489-7078, SNA.Providence.RI.us, SNA@SNA.Providence.RI.us –Kerry Kohring


College Hill Neighborhood Association

CHNA has reached a major milestone in our efforts to improve Prospect Terrace Park. Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier has confirmed that $50,000 of Ward 2 Infrastructure Program funds will be allocated this year to improvements in lighting and benches at Prospect Terrace Park. Thanks to an additional $10,000 raised from individual donors and matching funds from the Providence Parks Department, the park now has a total budget of $60,000 for a range of projects commencing in the coming months.

“We are so excited about what can be achieved at the park with these funds, and greatly appreciate that Councilman Zurier chose Prospect Terrace Park as this year’s beneficiary of the Ward 2 funds,” said CHNA President Josh Eisen. “Next we are seeking a few key large corporate and institutional donors and benefactors to match these funds to enable us to achieve our ambitious goal of replacing walkways and bringing the park into compliance with ADA standards.”

With these funds available, work will be able to proceed with replacing worn benches, installing better lighting and other improvements such as fence repairs. If possible there will also be new interpretive signs added, explaining the fascinating history of the park.

“We were thrilled to recommend this CHNA-sponsored project for the Ward 2 Infrastructure Program funds, and we are extremely grateful that the Councilman decided to fund this exciting project,” said City of Providence Parks Superintendent Wendy Nilsson. “Prospect Terrace Park offers so much to Providence residents and visitors that we can’t wait to break ground on these improvements later this year.”

The College Hill Neighborhood Association is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to advocate for the neighborhood, build community, and preserve the quality of life and unique character of College Hill. We seek to give residents a louder voice in the neighborhood by solving issues effectively and constructively, working with the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Department of Planning and Development, Department of Public Works, Licensing Board, Preservation Society, Historic District Commission, Brown University, RISD and other community, merchant, school, developer and land owner representatives to achieve results.

News from Thayer
The Renaissance “rebirth” or “reawakening” of Thayer Street continues as we say goodbye to some and welcome others. Just announced, the following businesses are coming to Thayer: U Melt, specializing in “Gourmet Grilled Cheese” (in the former Nice Slice location), and B. Good, serving “Real Food” with local and seasonal ingredients featuring salads, veggie bowls, smoothies and burgers (in the former Johnny Rockets location). Joining them are businesses who have already been announced and are getting ready to open on Thayer: Tropical Smoothie Cafe (272 Thayer), WOW BBQ (across from DENDEN on Angell) and By Chloe (in the former Au Bon Pain location).  The future of Thayer Street is bright. Even as we say goodbye to What Cheer Records & Vintage (last day May 31), we await the news of who will be coming to 165 Angell and 249 Thayer (former Store 24/Tedeschi). Stay tuned!

Save the Date: The Fourth Annual Thayer Street Art Festival is June 11. Thayer will be closed to traffic with 100+ artisan tents lining the street. Live entertainment, free fun and shopping for all. (Thayer will be closed from Bowen to Angell, 5am-7pm.) College Hill Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2442, Providence, RI 02906. 633-5230, CollegeHillNA.com, CHNA@CollegeHillNA.com –Josh Eisen

Wayland Square
Bookshop to Rise Again

Defying Fahrenheit 451, Paper Nautilus Books (formerly Myopic Books) appears to be rising phoenix-like from the ashes.

After losing a lease last April on 5 South Angell Street (one store in from Wayland Square) which it had held for two decades, its owner, Kristin Sollenberger, has bought an empty store at 19 South Angell, facing Minerva Pizza.

This is only a few spaces down the same side of the street from its former location and marginally closer to Blackstone Boulevard. It is less congested but also less conspicuous.
The space has been used by many businesses over the years, including Katharine Gibbs School’s career placement, various health and beauty spas and, most recently, a self-service parlor for soft ice cream and yogurt.

As of late April, Paper Nautilus was just starting the process of moving its stock of books and renovating its new home to fit the demands of a bookshop, such as shelving rather than dairy spouts.

Contributions for the relocation were being raised through a GoFundMe page, which readers can check for current progress.


Earth Day Cleanup
On Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), neighborhood volunteers helped clean and tidy up Wayland Square, fortified by treats and bonuses from Whole Foods Market and twenty other local businesses. tinyurl.com/WaylandSquare; Groups.Yahoo.com/Group/WaylandSquare –David Kolsky


Fox Point Neighborhood Association
Events This Month

Board Meeting, June 12: Please join us at our monthly FPNA Board Meeting, 7pm, in the Community Room of the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, 455 Wickenden Street. The public is welcome.

Meet Up With Us! Please join us for drinks and casual conversation at the next FPNA Meet-Up. Neighbors will gather to share thoughts and brainstorm ideas for the neighborhood. Details TBD. All are welcome!

FPNA Supports Community
Safety Act
In late April, the Providence City Council voted to support the Providence Community Safety Act, “a comprehensive city ordinance to ban racial profiling and change the way that police interact with members of our community,” according to the CSA website. At the time of printing, the CSA awaited a second Council vote – which was postponed until June 1 – and Mayor Elorza’s signature.

The FPNA supported the Community Safety Act as a “common-sense solution to pressing systemic problems,” wrote FPNA Vice-President Daisy Schnepel. “Although it reduces some flexibility on the part of the City and its police,” she continued, “it also protects police officers from unfair accusations and enhances public trust in our institutions.” The Step-Up Coalition worked for three years to develop the CSA, with input from a wide variety of community groups and stakeholders. The FPNA hopes to see it pass.

Neighbors Cleaned Up
The FPNA held its annual Earth Day Cleanup at a small park near the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier at Providence Steamboat, just west of India Point Park. Dozens of neighbors arrived to help, far exceeding expectations. “They kept coming!” said Alissa Peterson, event organizer and FPNA Board member.

Neighbors cleaned up trash, pulled out weeds and vines, added mulch and removed two dead trees.

“We had expert help from Sam Greenwood of Greenwood Landscape Design,” said Peterson. “He came with his chainsaw. This really opened up the space and gave a better sense of how nice it is to walk down there.” Neighbors then planted saltwater-tolerant grasses and shrubs, and laid rocks to delineate the beds.

Many thanks to Fox Point neighbors for their elbow grease, including members of the Beta Omega Chi Fraternity at Brown University, who came out in great numbers, and two Sheldon Street neighbors who donated 20 pairs of work gloves at the last minute. The City provided mulch, cleanup supplies and plants; Sam Greenwood donated time, expertise, power tools and rocks. “We chose the spot because it seemed like a neglected area,” said Peterson. “It gets a lot of traffic from fishermen. We wanted to continue the feeling of the Riverwalk toward the Park, past the restaurants. It’s really pretty down there.”

The Fox Point Neighborhood Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Fox Point and protecting its historic integrity and resources. The FPNA speaks out on neighborhood issues and builds community through local events. Our monthly board meetings are open to the public. Please join us! Fox Point Neighborhood Association, PO Box 2315, Providence, RI 02906, FPNA.net, FoxPointNeighborhood@gmail.com –Amy Mendillo

Mount Hope Neighborhood Association

MHNA will be hosting a neighborhood farmers market on July 14 and 28, August 11 and 25, and September 8 and 22.

The Rhode Island State Police will be sponsoring a Seat Belt Safety forum, where free child safety seats will be given out. Date and time to be announced.

Helen Dukes continues to hold Neighborhood Community Meetings on the first Monday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for May 5 at 6:30 p.m., hosted at the MHNA offices.

The last “Know Your Rights” forum, sponsored with the help of the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office, was held on April 29 at the MHNA offices and was very informative. Look out for the next one!

The Mount Hope Learning Center will be sponsoring its summer camp once again, running July 5 through September 1, from 6:30am (early drop-off) to 5:30pm, for kids K through 5. The camp will be held at the Mount Hope Learning Center (140 Cypress), as well as at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. For more information, call 455-4875 or visit MtHopeLC.org.

The Community Health Workers held their second annual Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 22, from 1-3pm at Billy Taylor Park, at the corner of Cypress and Camp. Kudos to all those who came out, even with the inclement weather as a foreboding backdrop (drop, drop). The rain certainly didn’t put a damper on all the activities. The band played on and helped to keep the spirit of the day moving in the right direction. Great job to everyone who helped with the planting, as well as with the cleanup of the park and the surrounding area. The next meeting of the Empowerment Dialogue will be held on May 25 at the MHNA offices, from 5-6pm. Hope to see you there (for more information, visit chi-ri.org or Facebook: Community Health Innovations RI). Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, 199 Camp Street, Providence, RI 02906, 521-8830, Facebook: Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, mhnainc@gmail.com. –Roger Lanctot

Waterman Street Dog Park

The Waterman Street Dog Park Association would like to express our deep appreciation to everyone who’s volunteered time and money to help out with the park. Without all of the community support we’ve received, we could have never gotten the park open! Thank you all so much!

After successful volunteer cleanups, the park continues to improve. With continued, enthusiastic use of the park from all corners of our neighborhood, however, the park will need ongoing maintenance. And we want you to get involved.

We encourage anyone who’s invested in the future of the park to come to the planning meeting on June 13 at 7pm at Books on the Square in Wayland Square. Waterman Street Dog Park Association. 19 Luzon Ave., Providence, RI 02906. WatermanStDogPark@gmail.org, WatermanStDogPark.org –Sam Bell

Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Out in the Rain for the Parks

It seems that rain must fall on Earth Day – at least it has for the past several years – and it does appear to discourage people from participating. But on this latest cold and rainy Earth Day, the turnout at Blackstone Park was greater than usual, and some of the same faces showed up later that day at the State House in support of science.

At the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC), we depend on research to show how best to tackle challenges in the woods and on the Boulevard, challenges that are being made more difficult by higher temperatures and more intense storms. Whether stabilizing soil to prevent erosion or controlling invasive plant species, we aim to protect the soil, plants, trees and ponds using the best science available and making sure that we do no harm in the process.

The BPC relies on volunteers to figure out how to manage these irreplaceable historic parks, to make the plans, apply for grants and meet with the Parks Department and environmental agencies. Just as important are the volunteers who show up on Earth Day and at all the other BPC events to do whatever needs doing.

One special kind of volunteer is the one who picks up trash without needing to be asked or thanked. And one of these guardian angels – Harold Doran – was revealed on Earth Day. We learned that our benefactor has been stopping at York Pond on the way to work most days to visit the ducks and, while there, he picks up whatever trash he can find. He loves the water, calling it “a solace.”

After BPC volunteers had collected quite a few bags of refuse on Earth Day morning, Mr. Doran returned in the afternoon to the rear of York Pond, which, as he says, is rather inaccessible, and hauled out two more contractors’ bags full of discarded cups, plastic bags, etc., most of which had washed down from the 380-acre East Side watershed that feeds into the pond.

So it seems some people do turn every day into Earth Day. As Mr. Doran wrote of this latest cleanup event, “The benefit to people… and the natural world can’t be measured.”

Where Do Donations Go?
The BPC depends not only on volunteers, but also on donations to pay for materials and services that need to be purchased. And when we do win a grant, as we have this year from the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), there is always a matching component.

The following are materials and services that donations help provide for:

  • Blackstone Boulevard path 
  • Rejuvenation project
  • Tree and flower plantings
  • Tree pruning 
  • Fencing replacement and upkeep
  • Invasive plant removal
  • Mulching, watering and other necessary supplies 
  • Soil stabilization 
  • Improving trail safety

Two grants for 2017 will enable the BPC to address three of the above items in a focused way. A $5,000 CRMC grant provides for materials and plants to stabilize the particularly difficult area beside the wooden steps leading up into the woods from York Pond. And a smaller grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will enable us to continue removal of rampant invasive plants in the section north of Irving Avenue.

Please send your East Side Market receipts to the address below. Several events will be scheduled in June for the Children’s Circle, now known as Riverwood. Blackstone Parks Conservancy, PO Box 603141, Providence, RI 02906. 270-3014, BlackstoneParksConservancy.org, JaneAnnPeterson@gmail.com –Jane Peterson