smart growth e-briefs
News and Tools For People Shaping Our Communities May 2007

Image of the Month

Downtown Pawtucket named to National Register of Historic Places

The W.T. GRANT, on Main Street, constructed in 1934, is in the roughly 14-acre section of downtown Pawtucket that has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.
Providence Business News


Grow Smart RI

Board of Directors

Deming E. Sherman

Chairman of the Board

Susan Arnold
William Baldwin
Rebecca G. Barnes
Samuel J. Bradner
Kenneth Burnett
Joseph Caffey
Robert L. Carothers
Jen Cookke
Trudy Coxe
Dennis DiPrete
Stephen Durkee
Stephen J. Farrell
John R. Gowell, Jr.
Akhil C. Gupta
Michael S. Hudner
Stanley J. Kanter
Howard M. Kilguss
Dennis Langley
James Leach
Roger Mandle
The Rev. James C. Miller
Thomas V. Moses
George Nee
William M. Pratt
B. Michael Rauh, Jr.
Gary Sasse
Richard Schartner
Pamela M. Sherrill
Curt Spalding
James F. Twaddell
Ranne Warner

Grow Smart RI

Directors Emeritus

Arnold "Buff" Chace

Louise Durfee, Esq.
J. Joseph Garrahy
Michael F. Ryan
Frederick C. Williamson
W. Edward Wood

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Dee Dee Lozano

Training Coordinator

Dear John,

You're among the 3,283 civic 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.

  • New research reinforces economic value
       of State Historic Tax Credit program
  • Strong construction sector performance and increased flow of federal investment among the more recent indicators that the program is a win for Rhode Island


    An April 2007 Moody's Report on Rhode Island's Economic Outlook indicates that the state's construction sector increased faster than all but one of 10 other economic sectors during the last 5 years. (see chart on page 4 of the report)

    Grow Smart believes that it's reasonable to attribute a great deal of the strong and steady growth in the construction industry over the last 5 years to the State Historic Preservation Investment Tax Credit, which became effective 5 years ago, in January 2002.

    Among the economic sectors that Moody's identifies as lagging behind construction during the last 5 years are wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and even financial activities, which remains a relatively bright spot in the local economy.

    Federal Investment

    During the 5-year period preceding enactment of the state historic tax credit program (1996-2001), Rhode Island attracted less than $10 million in federal historic tax credit investment.

    For the 5-year period since enactment (2002-2007), more than $78 million dollars in federal historic tax credits have been awarded to Rhode Island projects - an increase of more than 700 percent!

    Take Action

    Click the "Take Action" button to find the projects in your community and then email key policy decision-makers reminding them about the economic, social and environmental benefits that aren't being fully weighed as the state historic tax credit program is being evaluated. Let them know the program is making a major positive difference in your neighborhood and community.

  • A Beacon of Hope on Woonsocket's
       Constitution Hill
  • Transformation of abandoned Hope Street School made possible through State Historic Tax Credit program

    Grow Smart RI Executive Director Scott Wolf was among those on hand May 23, 2007 to congratulate NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NBRV) on the completion of renovations to The Hope Street Family Center in Woonsocket.

    Standing as a focal point on the highest elevation of this formerly neglected neighborhood, the building's rebirth mirrors that of the community it overlooks. Abandoned since 1978, it was a source of blight and a a sign of the neighborhood's decline. But now, it will provide 110 child care slots and office space for Connecting for Children and Families, Inc. This development caps 12 years of work by NBRV and their partners to rebuild and revitalize the Constitution Hill neighborhood.

    Wolf urged the assembled crowd to contact their legislators to voice their support for the continuation of a strong, predictable and transparent state historic tax credit program saying "these credits make the difference between buildings lying empty - often in dangerous condition - or being restored and put back to good use."

  • Smith Hill Watch
  • 2007 legislative session approaching home stretch at the State House

    A number of initiatives from Grow Smart's 2007 Statewide Policy & Legislative Agenda are up for consideration as highlighted below.

    Land Conservation

    H-5990 - Establishment of a state rural conservation district exempt from state affordable housing requirements. Read Grow Smart's written testimony in OPPOSITION to this bill.

    Status: House Environment and Natural Resources is holding for further study

    S-209A/H-5505 - Protects conservation land from adverse possession.

    Read Grow Smart's letter of SUPPORT.
    Status: Senate passed. House holding for further study

    S-901/H-6117 - Reduces estate taxes on working farms.

    Read Grow Smart's letter of SUPPORT.
    Status: Senate referred to Finance Committee; House holding for further study

    S-564A/H-5483A - Requiring notification of conservation easement holders before any proposed development.

    Status: House and Senate passed Sub A

    Budget Article proposal to sell Camp Pastore in Charlestown.

    Read Grow Smart's letter of OPPOSITION.
    Status: Uncertain.


    S-414/ H-5416 - Excludes RIPTA commuting expenses from taxable income for state employees.

    Read Grow Smart's written testimony in SUPPORT.
    Status: Unanimously passed Senate on 5/30. Will be transmitted to House for a hearing by the Finance Committee

    SR 1055 - Senate Resolution regarding efforts to address overcrowding on RIPTA busses.

    Status: Passed

    S-456/H-5918 - Requires all state colleges to enroll in RIPTA

    U-PASS program.
    Status: Senate referred to Housing and Municipal Government Committee; House referred to Finance Committee

    Affordable Housing

    H-5426 - Extends the life of the Housing Act Implementation Commission.

    Status: House passed. Referred to Senate consent calendar for vote

    S-572/H-5723 - Continues funding for Neighborhood Opportunities Program (NOP).

    Status: Referred to House and Senate Finance Committees

    S-424/H-5838 - Capacity-building fund for nonprofit developers of affordable housing.

    Status: Heard by House Finance Committee, Referred to Senate Finance Committee

    S-668/H-5711 - Requires additional communities to prepare affordable housing plans.

    Status: House Corporations Committee holding for further study; Heard by Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government

  • U.S. EPA awards Rhode Island
       $1.6 million in brownfields grants
  • Rhode Island DEM and 4 projects in Providence and Pawtucket are the recipients of a total of 8 grants.

    U.S. EPA grants will help to revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, transforming them from abandoned and blighted properties into community assets. The awards were made under EPA's Brownfields program after being selected in a competitive national competition.

    Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

    "EPA Brownfields grants are an economic engine, helping vitality to return to our communities, and this influx of new EPA funding will speed up that process." said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England regional office. "These funds will directly improve the quality of life in these Rhode Island communities, where citizens are working to redevelop and put to good use abandoned, contaminated parcels."

    Read More

  • Bringing sustainable practices
       to your community
  • June 8th workshop set for local officials, planners, and citizens from RI and SE Massachusetts

    Many cities and towns are now working on targeted approaches to sustainable development, such as green buildings, climate change initiatives, curbing sprawl, or developing sustainability indicators.

    Few communities in the U.S., however, have integrated sustainable planning and practices on a comprehensive basis. This interactive workshop, called "Designed for Life", will demonstrate how this can be achieved by citizens, planners and local governments.

    Swedish planner and economist Torbjörn Lahti and Sarah James, co-author of the APA's Planning for Sustainability policy guide will lead the half-day workshop to be held in Seekonk, MA

    Organized by the Sustainability Initiative, RI Peace Mission, 56 Walcott St., Pawtucket, RI 02860.

    Read More

  • CALENDAR Highlights

  • Click here to let us know if you would like your land-use/water resources related conference or workshop listed on our CommunityConnectionRI Calendar.

    Saturday, June 9, 2007 (9:00a - 9:00p)

    RI Sustainable Living & Clean Energy Expo. Sponsored by the Apeiron Institute for Environmental Living. Listen to their cool commercial.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007 (5:30p)

    Lecture by George S. Hawkins of Princeton University about the connection between land-use and global warming, sprawl and taxation. Sponsored by the South County Garden Club.
    The Dunes Club

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 (4:00p)

    Deadline to apply for Rhode Island Safe Routes to School 100% federal no-match grant money.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    Deadline to apply for 2007 State Preservation Grants. Informational session - Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission office.

  • Study panel suggests expanded role for
       Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
  • Photo: <i>Your Smithfield</i> magazine

    Legislative study commission calls for an expanded role for the RIPTA, making it the state's "mobility manager," with more services and dependable financing

    With ridership soaring more than 24% in the last 3 years and overcrowding becoming more commonplace, a Special Legislative Commission to Study Transit Service in the State of Rhode Island recommends a variety of service expansions. The recommendations are generally consistent with recommendations in Grow Smart's 2007 Policy & Legislative Agenda.

    The May 29, 2007 report says the agency is doing a good job, describing RIPTA as "one of the most innovative and creative public transit systems in operation today," and says the agency should be enabled to do more in order to respond to the growing popularity of efficient public transit.

    Read More

    Grow Smart collaborates with the New Public Transit Alliance (NuPTA) and the City of Providence's Transit 2020 Working Group to advocate for improvements in Rhode Island's public transportation system.

  • 'Growth & Development' in the news
  • Send us Your News We want to know what's happening in your community.


    Smart growth quietly enters the mainstream

    New England


    Blackstone Valley


    Central Falls








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