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Former Providence Mayor Blasts Streetcar Proposal

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

 

Former Mayor of Providence and property developer Joseph Paolino, Jr. has come out opposing the city's current proposal for a 2.5 mile streetcar line, for its cost to Providence taxpayers. 

"We've already got 'streetcars'," said Paolino. "What they're looking for is $100 million to lay tracks down."

Providence unveiled its latest streetcar proposal this spring after an unsuccessful bid last year to obtain federal TIGER funds to move the project forward.

"The intention is well-meaning, the idea is well-meaning. It's a nice idea if you want the Feds to pay for 100% of it, but the project calls for over $50 million in city taxpayer dollars," said Paolino. "Tell me the last time a project like that stayed on budget."

Earlier this week, transportation analyst Yonah Freemark looked at recent census data in Atlantic Cities for a piece entitled, "Have U.S. Light Rail Systems Been Worth the Investment?" writing that of the initial five light rail systems established in the 1980s -- Buffalo, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose -- "neither rescued the center cities of their respective regions nor resulted in higher transit use — the dual goals of those first-generation lines."

Paolino: Look to High Speed Rail

Paolino spoke out against the train station at TF Green when Amtrak announced it would not be stopping at it.

"What surprises me is that there's not more outcry for high speed rail in the northeast corridor, which would really create jobs," continued Paolino. "New York in an hour and half. Boston in 20 minutes. That's what New England needs."

The Providence streetcar proposal touts an of economic impact that spark economic development, create 6,000 new jobs over the next 20 years and 250 construction jobs, increase surrounding property values by $1.1 billion, and attract 1500 new city residents over the next 20 years."

Paolino acknowledged the strong Rhode Island rail legacy. "Senator [Claiborned] Pell was the father of the New England corridor,' said Paolino.

However, in 2010, Paolino called the train station at TF Green Airport a "boondoggle" when the project was unveiled, and Amtrak announced it would not be stopping there.

As for the Providence streetcar proposal, Paolino said, "We can just buy some new streetcars, hire some drivers, and have them go around the loop proposed in project. We don't need the actual rail."

Paolino Setting Sights on Providence, Newport

The 100 Westminster property recently acquired by Paolino.

Earlier this year, Paolino Properties announced a $60M acquisition of three downtown Providence properties including 100 Westminster Street, 30 Kennedy Plaza and the surface parking lot and historic facade at 110 Westminster Street.

The postmodern 100 Westminster Street building, which opened in 1984, is home to Providence Equity Partners, Hinckley Allen, Nortek, Bank of America, the US Attorney, Wells Fargo and others. With Paolino's purchase, it is now the only locally owned high-rise in Providence.

Recently, Paolino accounced along with investors an agreement to purchase Newport Grand, contingent upon a successful table games referendum this fall. 

 

Related Slideshow: Providence City Council: Who Will Be the Next President?

Several members of the current Providence City Council have declared their intentions to seek the Council Presidency, with Michael Solomon's departure. 

Below is the currenty city council. 

Prev Next

Seth Yurdin

Councilman Seth Yurdin was first elected in 2006 to represent Ward One of Providence, and was re-elected in 2010.

Between 2011-2015, his committee appointments include:

  • Chairman of the Committee on Ordinances
  • Member, Committee on City Property
  • Member, Committee on Rules
  • Member, Subcommittee on Healthy Communities & Women
  • Chairman, Committee on Ward Boundaries
Prev Next

Samuel D. Zurier

Councilman Sam Zurier was elected the Council person for Ward 2 in November 2010, and began his first term in 2011.

He serves on the following committees:

  • Committee on Finance
  • Committee on Ordinances
  • Chair, Special Committee on Education
  • Special Committee on Ways and Means
  • Special Committee on Women and Healthy Communities
Prev Next

Kevin Jackson

Councilman Kevin E. Jackson joined the Providence City Council in 1995, and was re-elected in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. Councilman Jackson, a Democrat, represents Ward 3, which includes the Hope and Mount Hope neighborhoods.

Committees:
Chairman, Committee on City Property, 2007-2011
Member, Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal, and Planning, 2007-2011
Chairman, Committee on Finance, 1999-2007
 

 

Prev Next

Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr.

Councilman Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr. was first elected to the Council in 2006, and re-elected in 2010 to represent the North End of Providence.

His committee assignments include:

• Chairman, Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal and Planning
• Chairman, Committee on Claims and Pending Suits
• Member, Committee on City Property
• Special Committee to Study and Make Amendments to PERA, 2007-2011

Prev Next

Michael A. Solomon

Councilman Michael Solomon was first elected in 2006, and was re-elected in 2010 to represent the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

Councilman Solomon was elected Council President for the 2011-2015 term. He is one of two council members of the Providence Water Supply Board.

Prev Next

Michael J. Correia

Councilman Michael Correia began his term representing the people of Ward Six in January 2011 after being elected to the Providence City Council in November 2010.

As President of the Providence Crime Watch Association, he has organized residents to combat crime throughout the city. Since 2005, he has led the Annual National Night Out Against Crime, a rally against violence and crime, as it passed through his community. He also is a member of the Sixth Ward Working Committee, a neighborhood group that has worked closely with the Police Department to reduce graffiti, vandalism, and other forms of crime. He has supported the Stranger Danger Program for children and the SAFE Program, which teaches practical self-defense to the elderly.

Prev Next

John J. Igliozzi

Councilman John J. Igliozz has served Ward 7 since 1997

He serves on the following committees:

  • Chairman of the Committee on Finance in 2007 and 2011
  • Chairman of the Committee on City Property
  • Member of the Committee on Public Works
  • Serves on the Board of Park Commissioners and the Providence Housing Authority
Prev Next

Wilbur W. Jennings, Jr.

Councilman Wilbur Jennings was first elected the councilman for the eighth ward in November 2010, and began his term in January 2011. He worked for the City of Providence in varying capacities for 28 years, eventually attaining the position of Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent of several divisions of the Department of Public Works.

He also serves on the Providence Community Action Program’s (ProCAP) Board of Director.

Prev Next

Carmen Castillo

Carmen Castillo was elected Councilwoman for Ward 9 in a special election in November 2011, and began her first term in January 2012. Currently, she is a union steward, and also a member of the Executive Board for UNITE HERE Local 217.

Prev Next

Luis A. Aponte

Councilman Luis Aponte was first elected to the Providence City Council in 1998, representing the Tenth Ward neighborhoods of Lower South Providence and Washington Park. He was re-elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

 
In addition to having served as the Council Majority Leader (2003-2007), Councilman Aponte has served on various committees, including the Committee on Finance, the Special Commission on State Legislation, the City Council Rules Committee, and the Committee on Ward Boundaries, which proposed the new ward map to the City Council in February 2002. In addition, Councilman Aponte is one of two council representatives on the Providence Redevelopment Agency.

Prev Next

Davian Sanchez

Councilman Sanchez is currently enrolled at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), and is pursuing a bachelor’s in Financial Service Management.

Councilman Sanchez has the distinction of being the youngest Dominican-American elected official in the United States, as well as the youngest member elected to the Providence City Council.

Prev Next

Terrence M. Hassett

Councilman Terrence M. Hassett was first elected to the City Council to represent Ward 12 in Providence in 1997 in a special election. He was re-elected in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. 

Hassett was elected Council President Pro Tempore for the 2011-2015 term, and currently serves on the following committees:

  • Chairman of Committee on Public Works
  • Member of Committee on Finance
  • Member of Committee on Ordinances
  • Member of Committee on Urban Renewal, Redevelopment & Planning
Prev Next

Bryan Principe

Bryan Principe is a newly elected member of the City Council, his term commencing in January 2011.  Though new to elective office, he has been actively engaged in the community for years.   Bryan has participated in community cleanups, tree plantings and neighborhood festivals. 

He serves on the following committees:

  • City Plan Commission
  • West Broadway Neighborhood Association
  • Ward 13 Democratic committee
Prev Next

David A. Salvatore

David A. Salvatore began his first term as the councilman for the fourteenth ward in January 2011. Since taking office, his primary focus has been financial and pension reform in the city. He was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Pension Sustainability, which issued a report and made recommendations—many of which were adopted—to stabilize the pension system and reduce the system’s unfunded liability.

David’s current committee assignments are:

  • Chairman, Special Committee on Ways and Means
  • Vice-Chairman, Committee on Ordinances
  • Member, Special Committee on Education
Prev Next

Sabina Matos

Councilwoman Sabina Matos was elected or Ward 15 in November 2010, and began her first term in January 2011.

She has served on the following commitees and initiatives:

  • Board of Directors of the Olneyville Housing Corporation
  • Associate Director of New Roots Providence
  • Graduate of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund’s Latina Leadership Institute and President since 2007
  • President of the Board of Directors of the Education Center for the Arts & Sciences Theater (Teatro ECAS)
 
 

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Comments:

I have to agree with Joe on this one. IF the street cars run on clean fuel.

Comment #1 by Stephen Maciel on 2014 05 14

just another waste of taxpayer money. we already are paying for a "bullet train" to no where in California.

Comment #2 by bob ingerson on 2014 05 14

another waste of taxpayer money. we are already paying for "a bullet train to no where" in California.

Comment #3 by bob ingerson on 2014 05 14

Are you kidding me? who is going to use these streetcars? the city is beginning to resemble downtown Detroit ..empty buildings,crime and poverty,no nightlife,out of business storefronts.Downtown is an empty shell! It's glory days are far gone..the city has seen fit to tax the hell out of businesses and ticket the cars of people who come there to do a little shopping and dinning.The city is trying to paint over rust..downtown has become an open sewer and a way station for hundreds of whacked out, creepy,stinky bums,criminals,alcoholics, and scam artists...I'm sure those streetcars will be sportin' dem green scented pine trees hanging from the drivers rear view mirror.. clean up downtown like they cleaned up Times Square.

Comment #4 by JOJO MONKEY on 2014 05 14

Kate Nagle: What did you mean when you wrote, "...Freemark looked at recent census data in Atlantic Cities..."? Is Atlantic Cities the repository of the census data or is it something else? Perhaps you meant to refer to the publication "Atlantic Cities", but I thought census data was Federal data and held by the Census Bureau. Surely you do not mean that the data focus on cities here in the East, because you write that Portland (Oregon) is one of those cities. Or is it just a misplaced prepositional phrase?

Comment #5 by Charles Beckers on 2014 05 14

They can't keep the streets paved and without huge potholes, how the heck are they going to maintain rails????? Seems like a lot of wasted money for very little and needless track. The only ones I see benefitting from this are the unions....once again!

Comment #6 by C B11 on 2014 05 14

Agreed CB another endless, "don't kill the job" construction project.
What union will the drivers belong to, I wonder? I'll compromise, bring back the "trackless trolly". Oh, wait a while, it's now called a BUS.

Comment #7 by G Godot on 2014 05 14

Not that the loopey left has designated natural gas as a "dirty fuel" what will we run those street cars on?... electricity... oh wait, what FUEL is used to generate THAT... er ah Natural Gas.

Comment #8 by G Godot on 2014 05 14

Where are you Frank Bentley COWARD just like the SCUM LARRY MANCINI. THE TWO OF YOU NEED TO GET THE SH!T OFF YOUR NOSES.

Comment #9 by Jackson Teller on 2014 05 14

Paolino is right...very simple

Comment #10 by michael riley on 2014 05 14

Mr. Paolino is correct in his assessment. This sounds like just another "big idea" that has a huge price tag and little substance.
Others cities who have pursued this "attraction" have seen little of the economic benefits touted. Have RIPTA, with the assistance of our congressional delegation, purchase some additional clean fuel trolley's. Much more cost efficient, better result.

Comment #11 by Walter Miller on 2014 05 14

pay attention people if we put this rail in to use we could use it to put all the politicians on it and push them out of town

Comment #12 by Howard Miller on 2014 05 14

Will the illegals get free passes, this bein' a "sanctuary city" an' all.

Comment #13 by G Godot on 2014 05 14

While I might agree with Mr. Paolino on this issue, I have my doubts given his poor foresight, small mindedness, and his risk adversity - all deathly traits for a developer. His concept of rehab is to paint a building, and put in some fancy (but cheap) light fixtures, as his Dorrance Street building clearly demonstrates. Mr. Paolino also excels in stating the obvious and is a parrot in his views, he is certainly not an innovative thinker or doer. But worse of all, Mr. Paolino is risk adverse and lacks the cajones to be a meaningful contributor to the continued renaissance of downtown Providence. For example, I believe Mr. Paolino owns the parking lot on Mathewson Street (BTW, a Paolino specialty) behind the Arnold building. If he had any vision or guts he might bought the Arnold building and used it as a facade adjoined to residential high rise that he constructs on his parking lot. Lacking deep pockets, he would have to secure financing and Mr. Paolino lacks the key contacts that other developers have. A project like this escaped Mr. Paolino because he sees all the negatives first and goes only by what he may see. A top notch guy would see that the occupancy rate in Downtown is over 90% and lots of young people flocking because the city offer up the buzz that a boring suburb like Warwick lacks. And the vibes of young people are high and positive. A good developer would know that because he would frequent the bars in the city where they congregate and talk to them. The next time Joe Paolino does something big in Providence will be his first. And don't offer his purchase of the building on Westminster Street because the building was fully occupied and the risk was low. Though he must have had a fit when Nortek announced they were decamping from there to the new Blue Cross building.

Comment #14 by Otto Benson on 2014 05 14

don't forget trolley use will cut into Joe's parking lots downtown.

Comment #15 by JOJO MONKEY on 2014 05 15




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