January 29, 2023

East Providence News Briefs

Posted

City Volunteers end Year with Free Christmas Dinner Event:
East Providence ended 2022 with a flurry of holiday events throughout the city.  From Riverside to Rumford, there were tree lighting ceremonies and concerts and more.  Especially remarkable was the 7th consecutive year for an annual free Christmas dinner held on Christmas Day.  The free event is sponsored by the all-volunteer group of city residents called, “Together for EP.”  The group is led by organizers Izilda Fernandes and Stephen Costa.  “No one should be alone on Christmas. With the high prices of food this year don't worry about cooking. Come down to the Brightridge Club for a free meal and grab a coat, hats and gloves.  Need a haircut we got you as well. We are a non-profit group dedicated to helping the East Providence community by using different resources to provide assistance to anyone that needs it,” said Izilda Fernandes as she promoted the Christmas Day event through social media and other contacts.  Fernandes, Costa and over 90 volunteers provided over 300 people with a full Christmas dinner on Christmas Day.  The all-day event was held at the Brightridge Club in the city.  Guests were treated to a full turkey dinner, baked ham, pasta, meatballs, roast potatoes and pork, chicken alfredo vegetables and much more.  There was also a full dessert table.  In addition to a scrumptious meal, guests were given a bag full of toiletries and clothes were offered to anyone who needed something.  Warm winter jackets, hats, gloves, shirts were available at no charge.  “We also have a barber and a nail tech available for those in need of some personal services,” said Costa.  Throughout the day, men and women received a professional haircut and styling.  Much of the resources for the Christmas Day event are provided by donations and fundraising throughout the year.  People send in cash donations or clothing and toys, etc.  Much of the cooking is done by volunteers and some specialty dishes are donated by the Riviera Inn Restaurant and Townies Feel Good Food.

“When we started this event 7 years ago, we wanted to make sure that the homeless had a place to stay warm and receive a free hot meal. We have grown from serving 70 people the first year to almost 500 people,” said Fernandes.  “Over the years we realized that not just the homeless needed a hot meal.  Living in East Providence we have a very large elderly population. Some of them have no family and were in their house and had no one to share this day with. In 2019 we made a few changes and now this Community Dinner is exactly that.  The Brightridge Club has donated the hall to us as they have done so every year,” added Fernandes and Costa.  The volunteer group is planning another community give-away for kids in need.  Details to be announced soon.

Outgoing City Council Final Meeting:
The outgoing City Council passed a few important measures during its last meeting in December.  The extensive repairs being made to the Crescent Park seawall is nearing completion and required a change order to install a railing.  The railing will be funded by $150,000 which is remaining in the project’s original $2.5 million cost.  The construction of the seawall was funded using ARPA (covid rescue) funds. The city received a RIDEM grant for storm water improvements on nearby beach road which was included as part of the bid. The long crumbling Crescent Park sea wall is expected to be finished soon and is already showing signs of protecting the area.  A late December storm brought much coastal flooding to Rhode Island.  “Just after the storm I took a ride down to the Crescent Beach sea wall at Rose Larisa Park to check on the progress and see how it stood up to the storm.  It appears to be progressing along nicely and did its job against the high surf and heavy wind,” said Mayor Bob DaSilva.

The Council also authorized the mayor to hire a software package for EMS for the fire department.  The department requested this technology upgrade to more efficiently provide residents with treatment and administrative services.  It is also a higher level of technology protection. The four-year contract will be paid to Image Trend Co. by using ARPA funding for electronic patient care reporting (EPCR) software for emergency medical services for the Fire Department; and the “Image Trend platform is designated as the only approved EPCR software to be used for emergency medical services by the Rhode Island Department of Health and meets the criteria of single source purchase.”  The program will be replacing legacy software that no longer meets the department's needs, does not offer a safe platform option, and currently requires twice the effort to meet Rhode Island Department of Health reporting, said City fire officials.

Additionally, the Council continues to deal with upgrading and protecting the City’s only piped in source of fresh water.  The decades old single pipe carrying water from the Scituate Reservoir travels into Cranston and then under the Providence River to East Providence.  This new system will replace failed systems and help prevent pipe corrosion according to DPW Director Dan Borges.  A contract for $114,000 was awarded to Corrtech Inc.  “The City agreed to enter into a contract with CorrTech, Inc. for professional services to repair and install new cathodic protection on the City's cross bay water supply; and for upgrades to include rectifier replacement with remote monitoring capability on the Providence side and installation of new anode material and remote monitoring upgrade to the rectifier installed in 2018 on the East Providence side.”

Engineers state that the work is integral to the longevity of the City's water supply; and the cost of CorrTech, Inc.'s fee associated with this work is $113,475 which will be expended from the Water Department general operating capital budget.  “These professional services will repair and install new cathodic protection on the City's cross bay water supply.”

The Council also gave final approval for the sale of vacant blighted property officially designated as 336 Bullocks Point Ave. in Riverside Square.  This is the former VAMCO parcel.  On or about October 20, 2020, the City Council engaged with One Neighborhood builders regarding this property.  “One Neighborhood Builders has substantially completed all relevant Planning and Zoning permitting processes related to the subject property and pertinent to this transaction; and in accordance with the Purchase and Sales agreement the Grantee is prepared to complete the terms of sale.”  The owner will build a total of 16 affordable rental units listed as low to moderate income.  The purchase price was $225,000.

This was the final meeting for outgoing council members Robert Britto (moving on to a State Senate seat) and Nathan Cahoon and Ricardo Mourato.  As of this writing, the City Inauguration ceremony for all recently elected officials is planned for January 3, 2023 at East Providence High School at 6:00 PM.  An update will be provided in the ReporterToday online.

Mayor Thanks Outgoing City Council Members
Mayor Bob DaSilva presented outgoing City Council members Robert Britto and Nate Cahoon with citations for their years of service on the council at the board’s last meeting of December 20th.  “Today is the last council meeting for these two great leaders of our community,” said DaSilva.  “I have had the honor and pleasure of working with City Council President Robert Britto and  Ward 3 Councilman Nathan Cahoon for the last four years.  Together we guided our city through the good times and bad times to care for our residents and to put our city on sound financial footing as well as address our city’s infrastructure and other needs.  Both of these gentlemen will be missed on the City Council, but they will still continue to serve the city they love,” added DaSilva.  “Council President Britto is moving to the state senate and will be representing our city at the state level.  Councilman Cahoon will continue to lead the city’s efforts to improve our schools through his leadership position on the school building committee.”  The Mayor also mentioned outgoing Councilman Ricardo Mourato who did not attend the last meeting.

Famed Promoter Don Law in EP
The City, East Providence Waterfront Commission & RI Waterfront Enterprises recently broke ground on a $30M concert venue investment, in a continuation of improving blighted waterfront areas.  The site, known as the Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL), has been inactive since 1984. The property, which is listed as a brownfield site by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was left in environmental ruins. “It was music to many people's ears when we broke ground on a $30M project in East Providence - a new concert venue and improvements to Bold Point Park!  This parcel, the bowtie, as many call it, is a parcel that has sat vacant since 1984. And now, RI Waterfront Enterprises with collaboration from the state, city and the East Providence Waterfront Commission, will work to make this a vibrant area for many generations of visitors to enjoy. The waterfront venue will hold 5,000 patrons and will be similarly designed to the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston,” said Mayor Bob DaSilva in a recent press release.

Don Law, the man who has virtually controlled the live music scene throughout New England for almost four decades, needs little introduction.  In the early days of the concert business, Law operated the legendary Boston Tea Party club where he helped break bands like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Jethro Tull, the Allman Brothers, and numerous others, many of whom stayed loyal to Law when they returned to the area.

Law was instrumental in the development of Great Woods/Xfinity Center, Harborlights/Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, the Paradise Rock Club, Brighton Music Hall, and the House of Blues Boston and manages the Orpheum Theater. The Paradise, one of the oldest rock clubs in the country.  Law owns and operates the Boston Opera House. Live Nation New England presents more than 1,000 shows per year, selling approximately 3 million tickets annually. Law has been known to keep a relatively low profile while becoming one of the most successful and savviest promoters in North America. 

 “Through a comprehensive approach, RI Waterfront Enterprises worked closely with Gov. Dan McKee and his team who have given us support at every turn and of course Mayor Bob DaSilva, who was first at the door to extend his hand to say ‘we really want to make this happen’ and it is fair to say we would not be here without Mayor Bob DaSilva – he made this happen and we are thrilled with his support,” Live Nation New England President Don Law said.

“Breaking ground on the project was not possible without assistance from the RI Dept. of Environmental Management Dir. Terrance Gray, local union leaders, as well as countless consultants who created an exciting plan for the Unocal parcel, which will include public access to the waterfront, outdoor concerts during the warm weather months, and other warm weather amenities,” Law added.

“Our administration from day one has been working hand-in-hand with RI waterfront enterprises to first negotiate the acquisition of this land,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “We are so excited to have Don Law, David Ting and Melissa Martin on this project because they’ve proven that they have the capabilities to deliver on their promises.”

“Bold Point Park has become a signature, outdoor destination for entertainment for Rhode Island,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “This venue, will be first class, state-of-the-art and part of a new Rhode Island that we are building.”

School Committee Actions
Retiring School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro presided over his last meeting after a ten-year run on that committee.  Elsewhere in this edition of The Reporter are excerpts from a Monteiro exit statement as he leaves elected government.  It was revealed that the high school has received all final approvals and its state certificate of occupancy.  As punch lists of completed items were approved, officials no longer need temporary approvals.  Monteiro was particularly clear that some in social media circles have given out false information.  “It’s not true that over 137 roof leaks have occurred since the school opened,” Monteiro told The Reporter.  Monteiro co-chaired the building committee which supervised the construction process of the $189 million campus.  “We may have had one outside roof leak and an issue with condensation,” both which were quickly fixed.  This happened after the intense rainstorms which hit the area in August, causing major issues across the state.  “Those reports were full of misinformation,” added Monteiro.

Oldham School (Bullocks Point Ave) Now City Jurisdiction:
The once populated James RD Oldham elementary school on Bullocks Point Avenue in Riverside has been officially deeded back to City administration from the School Department.  The once vibrant school was closed by a School Committee and State Budget Commission members in 2013 as a cost saving measure.  At the time student census was dropping and the State Department of Education would not approve the “millions of dollars it would take to replace a roof and bring the fire and other codes up to standards.”  Oldham students were moved to the Meadowcrest and Waddington buildings.  The closed Oldham has been used for storage lately.  Until the school department declares the building as surplus, the City could not do anything with the property.  With the building now officially handed back to the City, the Mayor and Council members will determine its future use.  The approved improvements to Martin Middle and Waddington Elementary schools have lessened the need for using the Oldham property for additional classroom space again.

Old EPHS School Souvenirs Possible
Some souvenirs may be available to the public as many have suggested once the old school was torn down.  Facilities manager Chris Murphy said some sets of old lockers and school sports banners may be sold.  There wasn’t much else that could be salvaged from the demolition process which took down the old school after the new one was constructed and opened for students and staff.  The school administration and School Committee will decide on a process to sell the mementos.  Murphy said maybe an auction or raffle could be held.

Martin & Waddington School Building Committee
A building committee is being readied for the next school bond issue which will provide for the voter approved renovations for Martin Middle and Waddington Elementary schools.  Most of the renovations with these schools are needed to correct problems associated with the “open classroom” design of portions of both schools.  Other code and ADA improvements will also be made.  Monteiro and his co-chair Nathan Cahoon will continue to chair this committee.  A newcomer to the building committee will be City Councilor at Large, Bob Rodericks, who will represent the City Council.

Chip-A-Tree 2022/2023 Christmas tree recycling program
The East Providence Department of Public Works will be collecting and chipping Christmas trees for use as mulch for City projects. Residents have the option of dropping off trees or curbside collection.

Christmas tree drop-off dates and locations:
Dec. 26, 2022 - Jan. 20, 2023 at the following locations:

  • Agawam Field
  • Hull St. Playground
  • Pierce Field
  • Central Ave Playground
  • Silver Spring Playground
  • Kent Field
  • Riverside Rec Field
  • Grassy Plain Park
  • Sabin Point Park
  • Carousel Parking Lot

Christmas tree curbside collection:
Jan. 9, 2023 – Jan. 20, 2023

  • Place trees at the curb for collection
  • Please remove all ornaments, lights and stands
  • TREES ONLY please
  • No wreaths, garlands, roping or artificial trees
  • Trees will be collected by city work crews and chipped
  • They are NOT collected with your weekly trash pickup

For questions or more information, please contact DPW Program Coordinator, Donna McMahon at (401) 435-7701 Fax: (401) 434-1725.

City’s First Ever Senior Center Art Show
The first Senior Center Art Show and Exhibit was held last month at the Bob Rock Senior Center.  Artwork by seniors in the city was displayed and some pieces were available for sale to the public.  “We have incredibly artistic and talented seniors at our senior center,” said Mayor DaSilva.  Director Laura Jones kicked off the first Art Show and Exhibit.  “The artwork was created by our seniors and will be displayed at the senior center for all to enjoy. Some of the artwork is available for purchase, https://eastprovidenceri.gov/departments/senior-center ,” said Jones.

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