Last month saw a landmark anniversary celebration for the Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA): 25 Años Unidos en la Lucha: Past, Present, & Future was a night dedicated to commemorating the transformative history of ONA, as well as a call for support to fully fund their transformative grassroots community organizing mission.
ONA’s roots trace back to neighbors organizing in the basement of St. Teresa’s Church on Manton Avenue as a response to gentrification, xenophobia, and poverty in Olneyville – many challenges that the neighborhood still faces due to underinvestment in the community. In response, ONA provides a growing number of resources locally and throughout Rhode Island, including free adult education, community support, job opportunities, informative meetings, hot dinners, and more. Support is essential to helping ONA purchase essential supplies, compensate instructors, and expand reach and impact in empowering communities with the resources they need to work together for transformative change. Their fundraiser remains open until the end of the year to help keep programs running. GiveButter.com/ONA25
The Mile of History Association (MoHA) held its annual meeting at the end of October at the Benefit Street Arsenal. The members honored Vincent Buonanno with a standing ovation, recognizing his service as president since MoHA’s founding in 2017. Buonanno will retire at the end of the year, and in his place, the board of directors has elected Liz Mauran as the next president. Attendees also celebrated the installation of new streetlights along Benefit Street and heard progress reports on the current projects, including one underway to install signage along Benefit Street to inform visitors of historical events and significant buildings that make the Mile of History a special part of American heritage.
Neighbors, merchants, Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) members, and leaders of several neighborhood groups packed the room at a mid-October meeting of the City Plan Commission (CPC) to share their opinions about a controversial six-story development proposed for 269 Wickenden Street. A FPNA-led contingent argued that the proposal, at six stories and 75 residential units, would dwarf the current streetscape, cause problems with parking and deliveries, cripple local businesses, and destroy neighborhood character while opening the door to similar developments in the area.
Several local advocates supported the project, arguing that dense development is necessary in light of climate change and the urgent need for housing in the state, but FPNA members pointed to the 1,000 housing units already slated to be built on nearby parcels of the 195 Commission. “This project is very short-sighted,” commented neighbor Toyoko Schieferdecker. “It is going to be [occupied by] national chain stores.”
At the conclusion of the five-hour hearing, members of the CPC voted to grant general approval of the building proposal, but rejected a related request to waive a 20-foot rear setback requirement, thus compromising the developer’s ability to design a profitable project. “With the denial of a rear setback and the conditions attached to the master plan, we made significant headway,” said FPNA president Lily Bogosian. “I remain hopeful that our collaborative efforts will be successful in preserving Wickenden Street.”
Over the past month, the site of the future West End Compost Hub has undergone environmental remediation. The site, which is leased to Harvest Cycle Compost by West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, was a brownfield, formerly serving industrial uses before standing for decades, and the soil was contaminated with lead and hazardous chemical compounds. Harvest Cycle Compost, an initiative of Groundwork RI, secured funding from the RI Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank to clean up the site, and after years of planning, it’s finally complete.
The remediation contractors started by removing trash and small vegetation from the site, then ripped up and removed the old asphalt, and dug up the northwest corner of the site. There were higher levels of leachable lead in that section of soil than anticipated, so they mixed that soil with a binding agent to stabilize the lead before moving the soil to a disposal facility. A total of approximately 600 cubic yards of soil was removed from the site. Contractors then leveled the ground, and it’s now ready for composting infrastructure. Part of the remediation includes a cap, which will be installed when the rest of the construction happens. At press time, Harvest Cycle Compost was putting the finishing touches on the designs for the compost hub with plans to put the project out to bid. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in the spring. Learn more at GroundWorkRI.org/harvest-cycle-compost/
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