Both Columbia Park in the Washington Park neighborhood and Dexter Training Ground (also known as Armory Park) in the West End saw updates and renovations this summer. The City of Providence recently upgraded Columbia Park, a neighborhood fixture next to Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus, with new playground and fitness equipment, upgraded lights, landscaping, and basketball courts. The park’s popularity led to plenty of wear and tear over time, which many neighbors kept up with by organizing clean-ups and picking up trash when visiting, but vandalism to lights and structures was an ongoing issue. According to the Washington Park Neighborhood Association, the park’s facelift has already received positive feedback from the community. Meanwhile, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association recently collaborated with the Parks Department to install new and improved playground and park equipment and a volleyball court in Armory Park. Their expanded toddler lot also now features Dex the Dragon, a custom-made play structure created by Parks Superintendent Wendy Nilsson’s son with the help of neighbors. Mayor Elorza, the Providence Parks Department, WBNA, and their WBNA Tot Lot Committee recently gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the park rebuild.
At the July meeting of the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, attendees engaged in a heated discussion about preservation in the heart of the Local Historic District. At issue was an off-street 1880s Victorian cottage nestled away from Williams Street between Benefit and Thayer, in one of the neighborhood’s few densely wooded blocks. The architect Friedrich St. Florian, who designed the National World War II Memorial in Washington as well as the Providence Place Mall, has proposed clearing much of the wooded area, moving the cottage forward on the property, restoring it, doubling the building’s size, and demolishing an adjacent garage. St. Florian argued that the proposal would enhance the streetscape, especially the view of the cottage, but some neighbors disagreed. Others opposed the near-clearing of the ecosystem. The Providence Historic District Commission “continued” the proposal in late July after reviewing the plans and hearing neighbors’ objections. At press, St. Florian and the developer are expected to submit a revised plan in August. FPNA stands with neighbors and the Providence Preservation Society and hopes to find a solution that preserves the character of the neighborhood.
The Providence Preservation Society recently launched the paid, five-week Window & Workforce Training Program in historic window restoration to help foster the next generation of skilled tradespeople in the specialized field. This unique program is made possible through their partnership with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island and Heritage Restoration Inc. and is designed for under- and unemployed Rhode Islanders looking for a new career path. Hands-on work will include the repair and maintenance of historic wooden sash windows and acquisition of the skill set needed to pursue work in the preservation field, all while developing entrepreneurship skills. Window restoration tools will also be provided, which workers can keep, setting them up to leave the program ready to enter the workforce in this field. These participants will contribute to preserving the historic architecture for which our little state is known under the supervision of professionals in the field. The program will run from October 1 through November 6, with applications due by September 4.