FPNA Board Meeting, 7 p.m., Monday, January 11th at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Community Room, 455 Wickenden Street.
FPNA—Fox Point Needs Advocates
Sitting on the tip of the East Side of Providence, Fox Point is surrounded on three sides by water—the Providence River, Narragansett Bay and the Seekonk River. The northern border is somewhat irregular, but roughly ends somewhere south of Brown University and College Hill.
The Fox Point Neighborhood Association, (FPNA), previously known as the Fox Point Citizens Association, was formed in 1993 over concerns about the upcoming re-location of Interstate 195. Twenty-three years later, land use and waterfront development surrounding this long process remain one of the organization’s top advocacy priorities. Other objectives include zoning, licensing, historic preservation, beautification, property taxes, traffic and safety.
FPNA is a membership-driven organization with an active board of directors, who network with elected officials, other neighborhood organizations in the city and coalitions for the environment, waterfront and preservation.
FPNA’s 2016 Project of the Year
Newly invigorated by four new board members, the group already has selected the Wickenden Street Development Initiative for its 2016 Project of the Year. FPNA Board member Vincent Scorziello, who also is president of the newly formed Wickenden Area Merchants Association, WAMA, will be leading advocacy efforts as liaison between the two organizations.
“This shopping area not only is important to the overall health of Fox Point and the East Side, but it is an attraction for Providence’s waterfront and the marketing of I-195 Redevelopment Parcels,” FPNA Vice President Daisy Schnepel says. “We have begun the conversation on necessary street improvements and are looking for fellow advocates.”
Board member Alissa Peterson is leading an effort to increase the organization’s membership participation through improving communication channels. The group also is reorganizing the board, while filling several officer vacancies.
Now that the stadium development is no longer a possibility for the parcels, FPNA returns its advocacy efforts towards construction of the Pedestrian Bridge and adjoining, new parks on the Providence River. In the coming year, the board also will be following development of the Fox Point Greenway on the Seekonk River and the construction of the Blackstone Bikeway through Gano Park.
FPNA’s Board has a reputation of successful advocacies that also make headlines. Below are two important East Side news stories, which required an advocate, as defined by Webster--sp.: one that pleads a cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court.
The Battle of Big Daddy’s
One of the most active episodes in the association’s history occurred in 2001, when it successfully led the charge to strip Big Daddy’s Nightclub of its liquor license. Located at 580 South Main Street on the waterfront, the nightclub, unlike responsible establishments nearby, was notorious for its rowdiness. Public sentiment in the neighborhood was united that it posed “a real and present danger.”
Under the leadership of then-president, Harrison Bilodeau, the board hired Sean Coffey, an attorney with the law firm of Peabody & Arnold, who argued the case before Providence’s Board of Licenses, and subsequent appeals to the Rhode Island Board of Business Regulation.
The ten-month battle uncovered evidence that Big Daddy’s had illegally served an 18-year-old patron over five alcoholic drinks one fateful night. The youth then walked outside the establishment to shoot and kill another man across the street from Corliss Landing. Other testimony came from over ten police officers regarding their written reports on serious violations at the nightclub.
The Fox Point Citizens Association prevailed and the liquor license was taken away from C.S. Ventures. The successful association battle left a $26,684 legal bill, which was absorbed by fundraising efforts, including a snazzy garden party and silent auction.
The Shooters Issue is Born
Another rowdy waterfront nightclub, Shooters, was closed in 2002, when the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RIDOT, took possession of the property through eminent domain for the I-195 relocation project. As completion of the I-Way neared, the issue of how this piece of property would be developed became very important to the Friends of India Point Park, FIPP and to FPNA.
The Shooters’ issue was born. Concerned citizens, led by co-chairs, David Riley, FIPP’s Chair and FPNA Board Member Arria Bilodeau, formed the Head of the Bay Gateway Committee to oppose the City’s plan for a high-rise condominium on the property. Instead, the group started a three-year effort, arguing before countless city and state governmental meetings that the shoreline property was an integral part of creating a public waterfront in Providence.
Daisy Schnepel, FPNA’s president at the time, directed most of the organization’s financing toward the Committee, while also testifying at public meetings. What followed was the MakeShootersPublic.com awareness campaign that included regular news releases, bumper stickers and a web site with an on-site petition that garnered over 1,000 signatures of support. The group was successful after the City Plan Commission voted to designate the property for public use, instead of residential purposes.
Fox Point’s State Sen. Rhoda Perry and State Rep. Chris Blazejewski then pushed for the property to be added to a popular legislative proposal for public use of the former Rocky Point Amusement Park land. Although no development has followed yet, the law recognized that a public waterfront in Providence was critical to the City’s redevelopment efforts.
FPNA is a resource for offering suggestions, providing moral support and sometimes helping to find community matching funds for worthy neighborhood improvements. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us more about a potential project that you believe requires special attention and advocacy.