Statement of The Providence Working Waterfront Alliance

In Reaction to City Council Passage of the Comprehensive Plan

The Providence Working Waterfront Alliance is deeply disappointed in the City Council’s vote to pass the Comprehensive Plan this evening. The working waterfront along the Allens Avenue corridor, north of Thurbers Avenue, is the only neighborhood that has been singled out for a Land Use change – from industrial only to mixed use residential – in this plan despite the near universal opposition of area businesses. We feel that this change is extremely shortsighted as it will open the door to incompatible mixed use residential condominiums that will spell the end of this economically vital resource for Providence, Rhode Island, and the entire region.

Sadly, it seems that the city has been swayed by a glitzy vision of condos, hotels, and marinas and the supposed increased property tax revenues they would bring. They have chosen this speculative vision over the reality of existing working waterfront businesses, many of whom have operated here for more than 100 years, who provide hundreds of good blue collar jobs, supply essential resources like home heating oil, and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the region’s economy. If only the city were as excited about the working waterfront’s growth potential, our companies would invest millions in their facilities and new businesses would be attracted to the area to take advantage of huge projected increases in sea shipping traffic.

While we are disappointed by this evening’s vote, we would like to acknowledge the efforts of many on the City Council, particularly Ordinance Committee Chairman Michael Solomon and Councilman Seth Yurdin, to understand and address the concerns of the Alliance in the Council’s consideration of the Comprehensive Plan. We appreciate their attempts to mitigate the consequences of the Land Use change and to recognize the value of the working waterfront.

Despite this evening’s vote, we remain committed to protecting Providence’s working waterfront and will be vigilant in making sure that our voice is heard loud and clear during the upcoming neighborhood charrette and zoning ordinance process. We will continue to make the case that our industrial working waterfront is far more valuable to the city, state, and region, than any high priced condo development.

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