Providence Parking Meter War Spreads to Thayer Street

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


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The owner of the Avon is joining the chorus of business owners around the city calling for the removal of parking meters. Photo: Flickr/Phelan

One of Thayer Street's most iconic tenants has joined the chorus of neighborhoods around Providence who are fighting back against the city's plans for expanded parking meter locations. 

Last week, state Representative John Lombardi repeated his call for meters to be removed from Federal Hill, after businesses and residents on Hope Street and Wickenden Street on the East Side were able to turn them back before even getting them.

Now, the owner of Avon Cinema is speaking out on the issue -- and a petition with over 2,000 signatures has been started to try and get them removed from the commercial district. 

See the Petition BELOW

"For me, the issue isn't who's got them, and who doesn't -- the bottom line is that the meters and the boxes don't work and it's a disaster," said Kenny Dulgarian, who owns the Avon and multiple properties on Thayer Street and throughout the city. "I've been here for 40 years, when I have vacancies, they fill up fast.  Now it's taking a long time, it's now a half a dozen stores to a dozen that are vacant."

"Some merchants are saying they are off 40% with sales," said Dulgarian. "We have the highest property taxes in the country. This is another tax.  When you have a destination place like Thayer Street, you want to have a dinner and go to a show. You don't want to be focused on your meter during a movie. Parents with kids go shopping, then get an ice cream, get gifts -- they don't want to walk back to fill the meter. We're driving vehicular traffic to the mall, and Garden City."

Dulgarian said the city's decision was shortsighted on the revenue front. 

"The city may lose sight on the fact they're losing the tangible tax on inventory," said Dulgarian.  "There should be a forensic audit and you look at what it actually nets, after overhead, and fixing meters, leasing, meters -- what's the net after financing, payroll, repair. Those boxes are not using friendly, if it's raining or snowing, they turn people away."

We want them removed," said Dulgarian. "It was an experiment that at the onset appeared to be an option but we've found doesn't work."


The petition states the following:

Over the last 6 months, as the City of Providence has installed new parking meters in the Thayer Street district, the merchants on Thayer Street have seen business deteriorate significantly.

The meters cannot easily be used, they are not practical, they are not customer-friendly. The city is well-meaning, but this parking experiment was a misguided effort.

The merchants of Thayer Street share a common vision of Thayer Street as a place that is customer friendly; a shopping, entertainment and dining experience where visitors to the street can stay and patronize several businesses on a single visit.

This is a critical part of what makes the financial viability of Thayer Street work.The new parking meter experiment has negated the ability for the pool of businesses to share customers. The new parking meters are driving customers away from Thayer Street in droves. Patrons who used to come from nearby towns to support our businesses have been left with no choice but to seek entertainment, shopping and dining elsewhere.

We support immediately removing parking meters on Thayer Street and the surrounding side streets from Waterman Street to Lloyd Avenue.


Related Slideshow: Who is Looking to Run for Mayor of Providence in 2018

Jorge Elorza may have three more years in his term as Mayor, but the early bumps and loss of support from the East side of Providence has impacted his ability to lead. The Mayor is facing a large group of potential competitors.

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John Lombardi — The former Mayor, President of the City Council, and presently both a Municipal Court Judge and a State Representative is very popular in his District. He finshed second when he ran for Mayor in 2010, losing in the Democratic Primary to Angel Taveras, but finishing ahead of Steven Costantino.

Strengths: Lombardi would start a Mayor’s race with a number of competitive edges. He has an organization, raised money and has name awareness. In addition, he has the deepest experience and not only knows the issues, but know the neighborhoods and the community leaders.

Weaknesses: Lombardi has a lot of experience, but also has to take responsibility for the economic condition of the City of Providence. In addition, he has taken not one, not two, but three publicly funded pensions. 

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Sabina Matos — The Council Majority Leader has a office to run from and is the highest ranking elected female official in Providence.

Strengths: A leader in the Hispanic community, she would be formidable from the onset. As a highly credible female candidate, she would most likely garner the support of Governor Gina Raimondo and Nellie Gorbea — who repeatedly have called for more women candidates.

Weaknesses: She has no real fundraising base, but if she could tap groups like EMILY’s List and other pro-female candidate fundraising groups it could make her a top-tier candidate from the onset.

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Brett Smiley — On December 31, 2015, Elorza's former opponent-turned-COO sent out an email from his own political email account that barely mentioned Mayor Elorza, but outlined the successes achieved. For a staff member, who was a previous political rival, to send out a personal political email, was perceived as a political announcement by Smiley. 

Strengths: As a former political consultant and fundraiser, Smiley can raise money. Many insiders identify Smiley as the person to “go-to” to get anything done in City Hall.  And if he has Myrth York's blessing, she delivers the East Side.

Weaknesses: His ties to Congressman David Cicilline and now his role as an architect of Elorza policies could be used against him. His statement urging Providence residents to park their cars in the suburbs during a snow storm will make a great 30 second commercial against Smiley.

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Luis Aponte — The City Council veteran now is City Council President is considered extremely smart and has done a strong job creating a unified majority in the Council and now maybe emerging as a political foil to Elorza.

Strengths: He is seen as a strong consensus builder and has a solid Hispanic base.

Weaknesses: For years Aponte has owed tens of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to file campaign reports. And, his well publicized legal battles with State Representative Greg Costantino are both blights on his reputation that will be tough to overcome.

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Michael Solomon — The former City Council President lost the Democratic Mayoral primary to Jorge Elorza in 2014 — Elorza got 49% to Solomon's 43%. He is the owner of Wes’ Rib House and comes from a long-time political family.

Strengths: Has support from across the City except in the all powerful East Side. As Council President he was able to raise money.

Weaknesses: Because of his long tenure on the City Council he is tagged as “owning” the City’s problems. A GoLocal investigation led to Solomon being fined by the Ethics Commission. His catering company has been repeatedly been cited by the Department of Health for code violations.  He has been out of the "game" - and public eye -- since his defeat, but that hasn't stopped the chatter.

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David Salvatore: The City Councilman just took a job with the Realtors and is getting very active with policy proposals and new ideas.

Strengths: Serves in the minority faction of the City Council and has used that opportunity to call for reforms including criticizing former City Councilwoman Balbina Young and the policies that allow pension spiking

Weaknesses: Little name recognition and a limited base outside of his ward. He supported the trolley project.

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Jeff Padwa: Former Providence City Solicitor and now Chief of Staff to General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is an experienced and well-respected behind-the-scenes staffer.

Strengths: Well-liked, he would enter the race with a East Side base, which proved the King-maker in '14. 

Weaknesses: His ties to Angel Taveras and his policies could easily be used against him.

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Keith Oliveira — Formerly a top staffer at the RI Department of Education and Chair of the Providence School Committee. He is widely respected and politically could connect the neighborhood dots.

Strengths: He grew up in Fox Point, has supporters on the East Side and could pull well in the Southside, West End, and Olneyville. He is one candidate who could potentially put together the magical coalition of the East Side and the South Side. 

Weaknesses: Oliveira has never run for office and does not have an established organization. While he was a reformer while Chair of the School Committee he also, de facto, owns the poor results of the Providence School Department.


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