Neighborhood News: Medical Merger in the Jewelry District, FPNA Opposes Digital Billboards & Federal Hill Mourns Loss of Local Leader

An overview of what’s happening around the city right now


Medical research sparks the future of the Jewelry District

The development of the Jewelry District looks brighter than ever with news of the Lifespan and Care New England merger and its relationship with Brown University. Besides improving the quality of health care in Rhode Island overall, the merger means a major increase in biomedical research centered on the Brown Medical School and Molecular Biology building already established in the district.

Brown’s five-year $125 million investment in the merger will support cancer research and treatment. Rhode Island will enjoy the benefits of havFing a world-class academic engine generating innovation and intellectual property based here, according to Dr. Jack A. Elias, dean of medicineFP and biological sciences at Brown. “I have a dream that future deans will look outside the window I’m looking out right now, and they will see the Jewelry District filled with biotech companies that spin off the intellectual discoveries that take place at Brown, Lifespan, and Care New England.”

Late in 2020, a step into this exciting future was the establishment of The Cancer Center at Brown University, an outgrowth of the Joint Program in Cancer Biology at Brown and Lifespan headed by Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP.


FPNA neighbors still say “no” to digital billboards

In mid-February, the City Council Committee on Ordinances held a public hearing regarding a proposed change to our city’s zoning ordinance. The amendment, which has been debated for over a year and a half and largely repudiated by residents, would permit several highway billboards within the city of Providence to be converted to digital screens.

Fox Point Neighborhood Association has opposed the digital screens for three reasons. First, neighbors have expressed concerns about safety, as more than 20 studies indicate that the risk of highway accidents increases when drivers are distracted by electronic images. Neighbors have also described the signs as “visual pollution” that would detract from the appeal of our city, compromising quality of life as well as property values and other economic engines. Finally, residents fear that a permanent change to the zoning ordinance would set a dangerous precedent. While the proposed amendment would allow only a few e-billboards at this time, the bureaucratic door could easily open to future additions. A lawyer for the applicant, the Lamar Advertising Company, even admitted in a public meeting that the billboard advertising landscape could change dramatically should this amendment become law.

The e-billboard matter passed in committee in February despite consistent opposition from neighbors and most alarmingly, despite ample evidence regarding safety risks. It will proceed to the full City Council. FPNA encourages city residents to voice their opinions on this important issue.


Federal Hill mourns the loss of local leader and advocate

Long-time president of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, and founder and publisher of The Rhode Island Echo, Robert D’Uva passed away in February and the neighborhood feels his loss. An advocate for Federal Hill and the Italian American community he belonged to, D’Uva was involved in numerous community organizations and was dedicated to helping local businesses and restaurants succeed through his work with FHCA. A sales career in several local media outlets culminated in D’Uva founding The Rhode Island Echo in 2012 to share statewide stories, which his family intends to continue publishing in his honor.

On behalf of the FHCA Board of Directors, Rick Simone and Armando Bisceglia stated on Twitter, “It is with heavy hearts that we learned of the passing of Robert D’Uva, President of FHCA and RI Echo. Bob always had a deep commitment to the hill. He will be missed, though his legacy will continue on.”


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