Last night, members of the Providence Working Waterfront Alliance testified before the City Ordinance Committee, and urged City Council members to oppose changes to the Comprehensive Plan that would be incompatible with a vibrant working waterfront.

Today’s Providence Journal has an article about the hearing:

Representatives of companies that reside along the waterfront say that the city’s industrial area and its deep-water port are a jewel in a modern city, and the highways cordon them off and create a natural industrial area for Providence. Let the rest of the city have condos and residential development, they say; if the industry is pushed out, there is no where else for it to go, and it will never return, they say.

Below are highlights from Alliance members written testimony:

Since 1985, I have been living just off Allens Avenue near the Providence River. I see the importance of the industries that have been here for decades. We don’t need residential development. We need jobs.
— Jose Cabral, Promet employee (full statement)

The State of Rhode Island and the federal government has just spent $65 million dredging the Providence Harbor and Federal channel to 40 ft. in order to encourage and improve the economy of water dependent industry. Why would the city not encourage the economic growth of this extremely valuable investment paid for by its citizens? We hope you understand the economic engine that is so important to all of us and oppose the changes to the Comprehensive Plan that would destroy the Working Waterfront.
— David Cohen, President, Promet Marine (full statement)

The rezoning of the Allens Avenue industrial corridor as a mixed use zone will have the long term effect of further choking off industrial development. Tractor trailers and cargo ships will not want to compete with shoppers, condo dwellers and pleasure crafts.
— Elizabeth Hernberg, Sprague Energy Corp. (full statement)

This is the only place left qualified to perform heavy marine maintenance and repairs in deep water in this area. PLEASE DON’T DESTROY OUR LIVELIHOOD OUR FAMILES DEPEND ON IT.
— Jack Goodison, J. Goodison Co., Inc. (full statement)

The Port of Providence is not just valuable waterfront property, nor is it just an economic engine. The Port of Providence is the lifeblood of the entire state, inclusive of the City of Providence and its citizens. If you destroy the Providence Working Waterfront, you will send the entire state into a deadly spiral, severely damaging its economy and far more importantly, the health and safety of its citizens
— Julie Gill, Oil Heat Institute of Rhode Island (full statement)

The port is your link to the global economy, a rapidly expanding economy in which ninety percent of all goods move by sea in the daily, worldwide flow of ocean commerce. Your 40 foot deep shipping channel is a rare and valuable maritime asset but, unfortunately, it’s invisible to ordinary citizens. Yet steamship agencies and agents worldwide know about it and take it into account in their logistical planning.
— Thomas Valleau, Executive Director, North Atlantic Ports Association (full statement)

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