Today’s Providence Journal has an excellent op-ed from Senator William Walaska and Rep. Peter Kilmartin, the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s port development study commission, on the critical need to protect Rhode Island’s limited port area lands for future marine industrial growth.

Economic development often requires a series of active steps to put Rhode Island in the position to take best advantage of its resources. As co-chairmen of the Special Legislative Commission to Study Potential Economic Opportunities in the Development of Port Facilities in the State of Rhode Island, we are deeply committed to supporting and expanding port and port-related activities within Rhode Island’s commercial and industrial waterfront zones.

At the hearings of the Legislative Port Commission and during tours of port facilities across the state, the commission members were very supportive of not only maintaining existing port activities but also identifying ways to expand and provide new opportunities for water-dependent businesses to relocate to our waterfront.

Recently, the City of Providence released its Waterfront Plan. We had communicated our concerns with prior drafts of this plan to Mayor Cicilline. Now more than ever, the city’s planning and redevelopment projects are vital to the health and welfare of the entire state.

The Providence Working Waterfront Alliance applauds the leadership of Sen. William Walaska and Rep. Peter Kilmartin on this critical issue.  Unfortunately, the City of Providence’s Waterfront Plan still calls for changing the zoning along Allens Avenue’s working waterfront to allow for incompatible hotel uses.  Indeed, the plan would allow for an incompatible hotel directly in-between an oil terminal (Sprague Energy), an asphalt plant (Narragansett Improvement), and a marine repair shipyard (Promet Marine).  No deed or lease restrictions will prevent future hotel guests from complaining about the truck traffic, bright lights, and noise produced by the round the clock operation of these successful heavy industrial businesses.

We look forward to continuing to work with leaders in the General Assembly and the Providence City Council to protect Allens Avenue’s working waterfront for future marine industrial growth.

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