December 11 Ward Letter

As surprises continue to fly out of Trump Tower and the baseball winter meetings, this week’s letter discusses the Fields Point LNG facility, possible changes in Fire Department assignments in our neighborhood and the proposed Achievement First expansion.

Download a pdf copy.

On Tuesday night, December 13 at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall (Third Floor), the City Council’s Ordinance Committee will hear public comment about the Fields Point LNG facility for National Grid, as framed by a  Resolution introduced by Councilman Yurdin expressing concerns about the project.  With the introduction of the wind farm, the development of other energy sources and LED’s and energy-saving technology, there is a question how this investment by rate payers fits into a long-term sustainable energy future.  The public’s input will improve the quality of the City Council’s consideration of this issue.

The administration has presented a tentative agreement with the fire fighters for the City Council to review.  It would produce an unprecedented five-year contract.  According to the Internal Auditor, the contract would produce between $9 million and $11 million in savings over its five-year  term, or between 2% and 3%.  The principal source of savings is the removal of two engine companies and one ladder company.  You can learn more about the contract and the financial and service issues at a Web page I have compiled.  The two engine companies designated for removal are currently deployed to serve our neighborhood; therefore, I have asked Stephen Pare, the Public Safety Commissioner and Robin Muksian, the Director of Administration to come to our neighborhood to describe the impacts of the changes.  The meeting will  take place at the Nathan Bishop Middle School Cafeteria on Wednesday, December 21, at 6:30 p.m.  The doors will open at 6:00 p.m.  If time permits, we also will discuss the administration’s plans for improving the City’s infrastructure after the voters’ overwhelming approval of a $40 million bond on Election Day which was rendered invalid by a decision by the City Council majority to withhold approval because they were not allowed individual authority to decide how to spend the bond proceeds.  Please try to attend this meeting so you can ask questions about this proposed change.

Last Tuesday, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing on the proposed expansion of the Achievement First mayoral academy.   As I indicated in last week’s letter, the proposal would produce a net loss of $173 million for the Providence Public Schools, and the impact of those cuts on the students who do not attend the new school would be significant.  The charter school law requires the Council to balance the educational benefits from the new charter against the fiscal impact on the sending district and the educational impact on the children who remain in that district.  Unfortunately, the Commissioner’s recommendation did not make any balancing at all, instead limiting its discussion to the benefit to children who can fill the expanded seats.  The Council is expected to vote on the proposal at its December 20 meeting.

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