STATE HOUSE – Rep. José F. Batista and Sen. Tiara Mack today called on state leaders for more transparent community input and conversation, saying South Providence and Washington Park continue to be the targeted for unsafe, neighborhood-eroding proposals without input from the community, even after years of public recognition that the area has long borne an outsized share of the state’s most burdensome development.
The two legislators today held a joint news conference to oppose the closure of Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary School on Broad Street and the expansion of Rhode Island Recycled Metals and call for greater transparency by the state with residents of Washington Park and South Providence.
The Providence Public School District, which is currently run by the state, faced criticism in December 2022 when news leaked that Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary and another city school would be closed down next year, without any input from or notification to the school community.
Late last week, news broke that the owners of Rhode Island Recycled Metals, the waterfront scrapyard on Allens Avenue that has been subject to long-running environmental violation complaints by the Department of Environmental Management, had purchased an adjacent 9.8-acre property along the waterfront.
Additionally, a property at 1144 Eddy St. is under consideration by the state as a potential site for a facility for transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness. While that proposal is still in a very early stage, Representative Batista and Senator Mack, whose districts include the area, today said state officials need to actively include the residents of the neighborhood and consider their needs before that proposal or the others proceed.
“South Providence and Washington Park are already burdened with an LNG terminal, a growing commercial port, an asphalt plant, a huge and potentially expanding scrapyard that pollutes our waterfront and resists regulation, and one of the widest, busiest sections of interstate highway in Rhode Island. Our kids suffer from alarmingly high asthma rates from the resulting pollution,” said Representative Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), a lifelong South Providence resident who grew up as one of those children suffering with asthma. “Our neighborhood deserves much better, and we absolutely deserve a chance to speak up and be heard about the developments that continue to be pushed on us.”
Said Senator Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence), “The people of our districts deserve to be listened to about their needs, their concerns and their hopes about the future of their neighborhood. What does it say for our state when we continue to use a neighborhood that is predominantly Black, Brown and low-income as the place for everything people don’t want in their own neighborhoods, and continue to do so without even accepting public comment? Our constituents deserve a voice in all these matters and we will not sit silent as our neighborhood is harmed time and time again. We hope to be true partners with state leaders as we build a Providence that works for everyone.”