Providence

RIPR FILE

Citing the city's tight financial picture, Finance Committee members decided Tuesday to withdraw support for a $40 million infrastructure bond proposed by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. 

The money was intended for several projects including street and sidewalk repairs, as well as improvements to city sewer systems and parks and recreation facilities.  

Members opposing the measure cited unfunded pension liabilities for retirees, and a poor rating from the credit ratings agency Moody’s.

Your humble correspondent is back on the beat after taking most of last week off. So thanks for stopping by. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and your can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Providence Planning Department

Urban planning think tank, Grow Smart RI, is applauding a plan from Providence officials to replace the interchange between Routes 6 and 10. The aging highway corridor cuts through several neighborhoods, and transportation advocates wanted to replace it with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. The State Department of Transportation has proposed rebuilding the highway roughly as is.

Scott Wolf, head of Grow Smart RI, said the city’s alternative plan is an acceptable compromise.

How Providence is working to get more kids to school every day; and what happened to the $75 million Rhode Island spent in federal Race to theTop funding?  Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison looks for answers from Providence Superintendent of Schools Chris Maher on our weekly Bonus Q&A. Political reporter Ian Donnis returns next week.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Analysis by Rhode Island Public Radio finds urban and middle class students in Rhode Island have lower test scores than their peers in Massachusetts; and the state’s ambitious goal to improve 3rd grade reading skills in less than a decade. We discuss the top issues in public education on a special education edition of our weekly political roundtable. 

Sixty Rhode Island teachers are heading back to college to learn how to teach English as a second language. The program, a collaboration between urban school districts, the state and the Rhode Island Foundation, will cover the cost of tuition so that more teachers can gain certifications to teach English Language Learners or teach in bi-lingual programs known as dual language classrooms.

John Bender / RIPR

The Providence Police hope to outfit all officers on patrol with body cameras within the next several months. But a new federal grant will only cover half of the cost.

The Providence Police department has received $375,000 in matching grants from the U.S. Department of Justice. But city must come up with an equal amount of money to outfit all 250 of its patrol officers with body cameras.

In addition to the cost of the cameras, the department must also pay for digital storage of the video.

John Bender / RIPR

City officials in Providence are considering an ordinance aimed at racial profiling by the police. The measure is known as the Community Safety Act. And advocates say it’s needed to address discrimination against minorities, especially in heavily policed neighborhoods. 

RIPR file photo

Providence city officials plan to create a "day center" where homeless and others in need can seek assistance. Mayor Jorge Elorza made the announcement Thursday, as the city seeks to address complaints about panhandling and drug use in downtown.

“The issues we are addressing today are not unique to Providence," Elorza said. "They are complex and multifaceted, but by coming together as community, we have the opportunity to make lasting change."

RIPR FILE

There have been three press-conferences over the past two days offering competing plans for dealing with homelessness, panhandling, and drug use in downtown Providence. Thursday, the mayor offered his vision.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The new contract would move city firefighters back onto a four platoon shift schedule. Last May, Elorza announced he would reduce the schedule to three platoons. At the time, he estimated the city would save some $5 million dollars on overtime.

The plan was denounced by the firefighters’ union, which said the schedule would require firefighters to work dangerously long hours. The union has sued the city, claiming the schedule improperly calculates overtime, leading to lower pay for firefighters. That dispute is currently in arbitration.

  Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment, The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave speak with Edward Mazze, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Rhode Island.

The three discuss Providence Business News’ Summer 2016 Business Survey. They weigh in on positives and negatives in the report, and the changes to Rhode Island’s business climate. The group also talks about developing a “tech savvy” workforce, as well as the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Critics are voicing disappointment following Gov. Gina Raimondo’s announcement that repairs to the 6/10 connector will be placed on a fast-track, leaving little hope that the corridor will get a major redesign.

Transportation advocates had hoped to see roadway transformed into a boulevard.

Advocates for the idea say a boulevard would offer better access to existing streets in Providence, and make room for pedestrians and cyclists. But the state announced this week the 6/10 connector is in such poor condition, there won’t be time for a major redesign.

Alex Braunstein / RIPR

The City of Providence has a new work of public art. Installations have popped up in public spaces across the city over the past year. The latest is a large mural called “BattleCat,” painted by an Austrian artist who goes by the name NYCHOS.

It’s a part of a series of paintings created by international artists visiting the city through a residency program.

Erika Smith / Creative Commons License

The first development project on the vacant I-195 land in Providence is complete. The land has sat empty since it became available for development.

Now on one corner of the land near downtown, sits Johnson and Wales University’s new 71,000 thousand square foot science building. The $40 million, three-story building houses a combination of classroom and laboratory space.

On hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony, Governor Gina Raimondo says she hopes the area will eventually be a hub for science and technology.

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