On Politics
3:00 am
Thu July 19, 2012

RISD strikes agreement for increased payments to Providence

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is sharing word of an agreement under which the Rhode Island School of Design will more than double its contributions to the city:

RISD will contribute $2.75 million over 11 years, in addition to payments the prestigious arts school is already making under the terms of a separate 2003 memorandum of understanding, which is not affected by the new agreement. To date, the Taveras Administration has secured more than $44 million in additional contributions from six of the City’s largest educational and health-related tax-exempt institutions.

“RISD has helped grow Providence’s creative capital for years. I am pleased that President Maeda and the entire RISD community have stepped up to the plate to be a part of the long-term solution that will position Providence for the future,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Our creative economy is strengthened by the graduates, faculty, staff and resources at RISD. A stronger Providence will help build an even stronger RISD. Today, because of President Maeda’s leadership and willingness to invest in our shared future, our capital city is stronger.”

“We have always believed a fiscally sound and flourishing Providence is the responsibility of all, and important for RISD’s own continued success,” said RISD President John Maeda. “We remain concerned about Providence’s financial situation and are therefore pleased, at this time, to be able to increase our support to the City in a way that benefits both Providence and RISD.”

Providence College seems to be the only college holdout amid Taveras’ push to get more money from nonprofits.

UPDATE: More from PC

PC’s Steven Maurano sends along this statement:

We continue to talk with the City and the dialogue is one of mutual respect.

The Mayor understands that, unlike some of the other institutions, PC has no current plans to expand beyond our existing campus footprint.  (We have not done so since the early 1970s when the College purchased the former Chapin Hospital property.)  We understand that the Mayor would like us to assist the City in ways beyond that which we are already doing.  We have committed to the Mayor that we will attempt to try to find ways to do that but that it would have to be in a manner which makes sense for the College.

In the cases of Brown and Johnson & Wales and now with RISD, those institutions either wanted or needed something from the City, and the City appropriately maximized assets under its control to effect those respective agreements.  But as noted, PC is not looking for anything from the City.  If that were to change, we understand that an agreement based on a quid pro quo would be in order.

I think it is important to note that, since 2003, Providence College has given the City a total of $2,542,880 in voluntary payments.  We are on track to give the City an additional $3,182,031 through the life of the 2003 agreement.  Meanwhile, we have not asked for a single thing in return.

We are trying to find other ways to contribute, such as the large community service initiative in Corliss Park on April 14 when some 75-80 PC volunteers built a new playground.  The Mayor participated in that event.  That was either the 5th or 6th year of a 10-year program we have with the City’s Park Department.  The City’s own Parks Director estimates that PC has saved the City about $100,000 in costs and expenses during that time through this partnership.

Lastly, if you have seen the City’s agreement with Johnson & Wales, you know that it contains language stipulating that the University should use Rhode Island-based union general contractors, get involved with the Building Futures program, and things of that nature in the development of any new building to be built on the former I-195 land.  Well, we’re already doing that with our new Ruane Center.  It’s a $20 million building that is one of the single largest construction projects going on in the City at the moment.  It will create about 200 building and construction trade jobs over the next 15-18 months.  We have a Rhode Island general contractor (Dimeo Construction) and we are already working with the building trades and with Building Futures.

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