FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Local institutions like the Fox Point Boys and Girls Club, and Public Library form the backbone of our community, and have a rich history here. They provide critical services and social opportunities to young and old alike, a chance to learn something new, access to the Internet, the ability to search for a new job, or a place to meet new people.
Faced with significant funding cuts from the federal and state government, Seth has successfully worked at the city level to keep these institutions open and strong. In the years ahead, he will continue his work to support these important organizations and to help them thrive. Seth's work includes:
- Supporting a successful transition of the management of the city-wide library system to a new non-profit group, the Providence Community Library. This preserved five Providence libraries, including the Fox Point Library that had been threatened with closure
- Funding to install a new elevator to provide the elderly and mobility-impaired with access to the Fox Point Senior Center, Fox Point Library and our Boys & Girls Club.
- New after-school children's computer labs at the Fox Point Library and a grant to the Friends of Fox Point Library to support youth summer programs.
- Funding for Fox Point Seniors, in the face of ongoing state budget cuts, Seth successfully pushed to increase city funds granted to the center for multiple years.
- Renovation of the historic building adjoining the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School. The Fox Point Bath House - built in 1926 to provide hot water and bathing facilities for area residents without indoor plumbing - has a new life as the elementary school's library and community space. The project won an award from the Providence Preservation Society.
Our Parks and Waterfront
Green spaces and public waterfronts make our city special. Our parks are where people can enjoy a cultural heritage festival, play sports, plant a garden, access Narragansett Bay, play with classmates or simply enjoy some quiet time. Seth has supported a number of neighborhood groups who tirelessly work to improve our parks and public spaces. Some initiatives include:
- Gano Park: twenty-four new plots at the Fox Point Community Garden and supporting cleanup and restoration of the Gano Street Park & Seekonk Shoreline.
- India Point Park: reconstruction of the fishing dock, and continued advocacy with neighborhood groups for the burial of overhead power lines and reuse, with community-based development, of the 'Shooters' site.
- Supporting the completion of a new boat ramp to improve public access to the Seekonk River at East Transit Street.
- Supporting a local initiative to install wheelchair-accessible play equipment at Cabral Park/Vartan Gregorian Elementary School and new children's play equipment at the Preston/Ives and Brassil Parks.
- Creation of the Harbor Commission tasked with improving waterfront access in the neighborhood and city.
Improving Quality of Life
Fox Point is rich with history and diversity. At the same time, pressure from development creates a significant threat to the quality of life in our neighborhood. As Ward 1's representative on the City Council, Seth has worked to steer new development in a way that respects and enhances our neighborhood. With many acres of land newly available for development on the former I-195 site, Seth will continue to press for proposals that are compatible with our neighborhood's values. His work on the Council in this area includes:
- Advocating for development of I-195 land to make sure that future designs respect and improve our neighborhood.
- Supporting improved pedestrian and bicycle access in our neighborhood – including along the Seekonk Shoreline and Providence cityWALK.
- Passage of an updated noise ordinance to provide better protection for our neighborhoods.
- Strengthening ordinances to improve nightlife safety to bolster the City's efforts to ensure safe enjoyment of nighttime arts, entertainment and cultural events.
- Enacting updated zoning for downtown Providence, balancing important historic preservation concerns with the need for more predictable standards to encourage economic development.
CITY WIDE ISSUES
In addition to Seth's work in the neighborhood, he has focused his efforts on public education, environmental/public health issues and a better city government. This work includes:
Creating the Council's Special Committee on Education to examine public school policy and budgetary issues. Over the past four years, this committee has engaged in detailed examination of contracts, budgets, proposed new schools and other important public education issues.
Advocating for a statewide public school funding formula -- and for accelerated implementation of the formula -- to give the City the resources it needs for our public schools, and to help alleviate the City's financial crisis.
At the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School Seth successfully:
- pushed for renovation of the historic building adjoining the school – which is now repurposed as the school library.
- obtained additional funding for books and multi-media equipment for the school library.
- supported a local initiative to install wheelchair-accessible play equipment at Cabral Park, used by the children attending the school.
Protecting the Environment and Public Health
Creating the Energy and Sustainability Task Force and the position of City Sustainability Director to support a wide range of environmental initiatives, in the areas of energy conservation, recycling, reduction of the City's carbon footprint, and requiring the development of the City's long-term Sustainability Action Plan. The new goals established by the plan focus on zero waste strategies, energy efficiency, food security and land development.
Passing a resolution calling for divestment of city funds from large fossil fuel companies. Divestment is a critical strategy to raise awareness on the issue of climate change and reduce the political influence of an industry that cannot be permitted to slow necessary solutions to the world's climate crisis.
Passed legislation that reduces diesel exhaust pollution from a major source of air pollution: diesel construction equipment. This victory, the first of its kind in Rhode Island, has encouraged other cities and towns to take similar efforts and successfully helped pressure the State to pass a statewide ban.
Opposing the sale and privatization of the Scituate Reservoir - the water supply for Providence and much of the state.
City Transparency and Accountability
As Majority Leader of the Council, Seth worked with Mayor Taveras and other stakeholders to tackle the most difficult fiscal challenge Providence has faced in recent memory. Facing a projected $110M deficit, the Council and Mayor worked with city employees, tax-exempt institutions and others to take significant steps to improve our city's finances.
Passing laws that require detailed and regular disclosure of the city's financial condition.
Improving the transparency, accessibility and efficiency of city government through creation of the Open Providence Commission. The commission - chaired by John Marion of Common Cause - brought together city employees, outside experts, and everyday residents to make recommendations on how residents can better engage city government through technology. As a result, the public now has unprecedented access to the city's financial information, operations and the legislative process. All proposed ordinances, meeting notices and actual hearings are now easily available to the public online.
Supporting the registration of lobbyists and disclosure of their compensation and activities and supporting limits on the ability of city contractors to make political contributions to city elected officials.