Grow Smart Rhode Island
Smart Growth e-Briefs
  News and Tools for People Shaping Our Communities May 2004  

This Month

Grow Smart ....... on the record for growing smarter

North Providence investment in village center pays off

Workshops offered for local communities

The struggle for balance continues in rural Hopkinton

Training CD ROM available on loan from the Grow Smart Library

Smart Stuff

Good franchise design can help protect community character


Congress for New Urbanism sets up New England chapter

Grow Smart Board of Directors

Michael F. Ryan
Chairman of the Board

Susan Arnold
William Baldwin
S. James Busam
Joseph Caffey
Robert L. Carothers
Arnold Chace
Jen Cookke
Trudy Coxe
Peter Damon
Louise Durfee
Stephen J. Farrell
Thomas E. Freeman
J. Joseph Garrahy
John R. Gowell, Jr.
Stephen Hamblett
Robert Harding
Michael S. Hudner
Stanley J. Kanter
Howard M. Kilguss
Thomas A. Lawson
Dennis Langley
James Leach
Frederick Lippitt
Roger Mandle
Rev. James C. Miller
Thomas V. Moses
George Nee
B. Michael Rauh, Jr.
Gary Sasse
Richard Schartner
Deming Sherman
Merrill Sherman
Curt Spalding
James F. Twaddell
Ranne Warner
Sandra Whitehouse
Frederick C. Williamson
W. Edward Wood

Board Listing with Affiliation (pdf)


Scott Wolf
Executive Director

Sheila Brush
Director of Programs

John Flaherty
Director of Research & Communications

Lynn Burns
Office Manager / Executive Assistant

Dorothy Dauray
Office Assistant

Linsey Cameron
Research Assistant

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Smart Growth

   Dear John,

You're among the 1,925 opinion leaders, state & local officials, development professionals, journalists and visionary citizens getting the latest news, happenings and trends in the smart growth movement from Grow Smart Rhode Island.

  • Grow Smart ....... on the record for growing smarter
  •    From advocating a comprehensive Open Space & Recreation Bond Issue to expressing opposition to Big Box development to support of brownfields permitting reform legislation, Grow Smart offered a broad range of commentary about issues of statewide importance throughout April.

    Although Grow Smart believes that most land use decisions should be made primarily by the citizens of local communities working through their elected officials and local boards, some private or public development projects are of such a scale or set a significant enough precedent that they can have major impacts on smart growth objectives at the state or regional level. Click HERE to read Grow Smart's guidelines for consideration of public comment on local development issues.

    Below are examples of Grow Smart's public commentary over the last several weeks:

    -Testimony in support of new brownfields legislation - 3/31
    -Testimony on affordable housing legislation - 4/5
    -Remarks at the press conference urging Blue Cross to remain in Providence - 4/5
    -Remarks about the importance of Commercial Historic Tax Credit - 4/6
    -Testimony in support of $60 million Open Space & Recreation Bond Issue - 4/7
    -Article about Grow Smart's support for the Open Space & Recreation Bond - 4/15
    -Article citing Grow Smart's opposition to big box development in Hopkinton - 4/18
    -Remarks at RI Historic Preservation Conference (historic schools)- 4/24

  • North Providence investment in village center pays off
  •    Private investors respond by snatching up and renovating key properties in Centredale Village

    In 1997 when the village of Centredale was about to undergo a typical road resurfacing project, North Providence town officials saw an even bigger opportunity to revitalize the once-thriving village center, reclaim its historic character and make the village more pedestrian-friendly. Drawing on a vision outlined in its local Comprehensive Community Plan, Mayor Ralph Mollis and Town Planner Leo Perrotta presented the state Department of Transportation with an ambitious set of ideas and backed it up with a commitment to contribute town resources.

    Their vision, completed in fall 2003, includes improvements to the public space in front of Town Hall, the resurfacing of streets, reconstruction of sidewalks using a high-quality faux-brick stamped concrete, planting of street trees, reconstruction of a problematic intersection using a traffic-calming "round-about" and the addition of other amenities such as period lighting, benches and new trash receptacles.

    Today, only a few months after completion of the improvements, the village has indeed succeeded in recapturing its charm and has attracted significant private investment as a result.

    Click here to see more pictures and the resulting private investment.

  • Workshops offered for local communities
  •    Walkable Community Workshop: The Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program will be holding a series of walkable community workshops in eight local communities May 24-28. This workshop series is presented by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (NCBW), with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the RI Statewide Planning Program.

    The purpose of the workshops is to help communities plan more pedestrian-friendly and walkable neighborhoods. The half-day sessions are designed for professionals in the fields of planning, engineering, law enforcement, public health, historic preservation, as well as for elected officials, businesses, neighborhood groups and citizens. The sessions include a walking audit in host communities and presentations by trainers from the NCBW. Successes from other states include implementation of traffic calming programs, revitalized main streets, more pedestrian-friendly intersections, new, accessible sidewalks and safe-routes-to-school programs. Participating cities and towns include Burrillville, East Providence, Middletown, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence and West Warwick.

    -Can pedestrian-friendly planning really encourage us to walk?
    -Click here for a complete schedule of workshops (pdf)

    Making Good Land-Use Decisions: The Grow Smart municipal training initiative will present its three-part program in Glocester on June 14, 21 and 29 for municipal officials from Foster, Glocester, Scituate and Coventry. Advance registration is required by June 7. If space permits, officials from other communities may also register for the entire program. In addition, any official who have attended the program in the past and want to make up a session can do so free of charge.

    -Registration form

  • The struggle for balance continues in rural Hopkinton
  •    Advocates for smarter growth still exploring options for sensible growth that will protect community character and avoid the sprawl associated with Big Box Retail

    Since last month's report on the controversial big box retail development proposed along I-95 near Exit 1 in South County, the fight goes on for members of Hopkinton First to find an eleventh-hour solution to an affirmative vote by its Town Council to allow large scale retail development.

    U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee has pledged to look for federal resources to help purchase the land and protect Rhode Island's southern gateway (read the story), while the Providence Journal supports the concept of putting the question to voters in a referendum (Read the story).

    -View the alternate mixed-use proposal that was rejected by the Town Council
    -Exit may get impact study, but is it too late? - Projo 4/22
    -Grow Smart interview on the record - Projo 4/18

  • Training CD ROM available on loan from the Grow Smart Library

    "Best of Contemporary Community Planning" training series designed for planning boards and and other appointed and elected officials

    Developed by the American Planning Association and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, this CD ROM training tool brings national planning experts and researchers to your desktop or conference room screen. It's convenient for group training or individual learning. Modules include Planning Commissioner Ethics, Regulating Adult Oriented Businesses and Smart Growth for Citizen Planners. A good complement to Grow Smart's "Making Good Land Use Decisions", the CD ROM includes audio recordings from APA's 2003 National Planning Conference, synchronized with PowerPoint presentations.

    -Read more about the CD ROM content
    -Click here to request a copy on loan from Grow Smart

  • Smart Stuff

    Each month Grow Smart highlights a sampling of policy developments or other creative smart growth initiatives being implemented around Rhode Island and beyond. Do you have a story to tell? (click here to share it with us)

    Planning charette yields ideas to improve downtown walkability

    48-acre 'shoestring' property along Pawtuxet River to be developed for recreation

    Masonic Temple redevelopment gets green light from Capital Center Commission

    Council wants voters to approve $5 million for townwide sidewalk repair

    Town establishes board to "foster" affordable housing

    Romney announces changes to spur smart growth projects

  • Good franchise design can help protect community character
    Saving Face is a publication, available through the American Planning Association's Planning Advisory Service, to help community leaders better integrate chain stores into a community's character.

    Author Ron Fleming of the Cambridge, MA based Townscape Institute offers positive examples of how communities and franchises have collaborated to achieve corporate goals while respecting neighborhood architectural style and community character. Saving Face will empower citizens to demand more by revealing the stark contrast between standard franchise design and the custom design that more communities are requiring. $40.

    Read more about the book

  •    Tuesday, May 25 (4:00p - 6:00p)
    Preparing DEM Open Space Grants & Proposals
    Email Rupert Friday to register.
    Sponsored by DEM and the RI Land Trust Council
    RIDEM, 235 Promenade Street

    Saturday, June 5 (11:00a - 7:00p)
    RI Sustainable Living Festival & Renewable Energy Expo
    Entertainment, education and fun. Exhibits, workshops, Big Nazo puppets and Recycle Max.
    Presented by the Apeiron Institute.

    Submit a "June/July Event" for next month's e-brief by clicking here

  • Congress for New Urbanism sets up New England chapter

    Regional planners, developers, architects, environmentalists and others involved in urban planning decisions recently organized the New England chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU). The CNU, best known for its visionary attempts to reform suburban development and promote better functioning regions, towns and neighborhoods, supports an urban planning philosophy that calls for the creation of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods rather than sprawling, single-use developments.

    The New England chapter of the CNU will give professionals involved in development the chance to teach one another about what works and what doesn't, pushing best practices forward. "This will give us an opportunity to look at how New Urbanism can help build better neighborhoods and a greater sense of community in village centers and downtowns," says says architect and CNU member David Dixon of Goody, Clancy & Associates.

    Learn more about CNU New England



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    Providence RI 02903

    phone: 401-273-5711

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