- John Rousseau for East Side Monthly
Sidewalk Sale and More About Meters
Mayor Says Meters Issue Uncertain
Mayor Jorge Elorza told about 35 or 40 vocal parking meter opponents at FPNA’s March Board Meeting that “no ship has sailed,” on his proposal to install parking meters on Wickenden Street.
FPNA Vice President Daisy Schnepel said the board was encouraged by his open attitude, reflected in his pledge to investigate the issue further. “It was a good turnout that included a lot of merchants, all of whom expect to be adversely affected by this business-unfriendly budget initiative.”
Vincent Scorziello, FPNA Board Member and Wickenden Area Merchants’ Association President agrees. “If this goes through, there will be a painful, extended adjustment period, as our shoppers re-calculate the cost of shopping in Wickenden area stores,” he said. “Merchants, who were here in 2003, fear a return to declining business conditions and higher vacancy rates that followed the City’s property tax increase that year,” Scorziello explains.
At the meeting, former State Senator and FPNA Board President John Roney, asked Elorza for a “significant delay on the implementation of the meters.” In a letter to Elorza following the meeting, Schnepel repeated the request. “Our merchants need more time to fully recover from the last ten years of a prolonged recession and significant property tax increases,” Schnepel says.
FPNA Asks for Traffic Study
“During this time, the City could apply due diligence by performing a more representative traffic study than the one that was conducted during Brown University’s Commencement Week,” Schnepel suggested. That traffic study concluded meters would cause shoppers to shorten their parking times, thereby solving the parking problem of too many cars.” Our first-hand experience as business owners is not that there are too many cars, but not enough cars on the street,” Scorziello says.
There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for merchants, including WAMA’s online petition, https://www.change.org/p/leo-perrotta-no-parking-meters-on-wickenden-street, where the goal of 1,500 signatures lacks only a few signatures, at publication time. Other social media sites, like Crimeserv, email@example.com, Neighborhood Fox Point, https://foxpointri.nextdoor.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/FoxPointNeighborhoodAssn/ also are communicating public support for FPNA and WAMA’s positions.
City Councilman Seth Yurdin, who attended the meeting, pledged “to facilitate future meetings with Parking Administrator and the public,” who are overwhelmingly opposed to the meters. In an e-letter to his constituents, Yurdin voiced his opposition again and posted the WAMA petition to help secure more signatures.
Residents Adversely Affected, too
Merchants and landlords of the mostly multi-use buildings on Wickenden Street already must factor in commercial (the highest) property tax rates into their bottom line, Schnepel points out. “There are many Wickenden Street residents, who pay higher rents because of property taxes,” she says. “If the meters are installed, they could now face unfriendly parking conditions, as well,” she says. “Residents, who live in adjacent historic districts like mine will lose parking spaces to shoppers, avoiding the meter—for twelve hours every shopping day.”
In Schnepel’s March 17th letter to the Mayor, FPNA also asked to see an overall budget that demonstrates the projected revenue of $250,000 annually (from Wickenden Street meters) is feasible and not eliminated by declining sales tax revenues, the cost of new meters and additional personnel to monitor and ticket violations.
In 2015, FPNA and the newly formed WAMA began exploring ways to market and enhance the quality of life in this unique, eclectic shopping area through special events, fundraising and grants. “Then, we get blindsided by news like this proposed budget initiative that also will deteriorate the streetscape,” the longtime FPNA Board Officer continues.
“Everyone, including shoppers, fear the relaxed nature of strolling and communing that occurs on Wickenden Street will be lost forever,” Schnepel’s letter to the mayor stated.
Brown Student Offers Parking App
Albie Brown, a Brown student who attended the board meeting to show his support to WAMA and FPNA, has started a new business that might help alleviate lack of parking throughout the city.
Spotter, his new company, uses a mobile application, http://www.getspotter.co, that allows Providence residents to rent out their private driveways or parking lots when they are not in use. “We’re hoping mobile app will ease the pain of parking for drivers while generating passive income for owners, who have designated times when their spaces are not being used,” Brown explains. “With Spotter, drivers simply press a button to locate a parking space, while spot owners cash a monthly check,” he says.
One parking spot that is available twenty-four hours a day could earn up to $500 per month, Brown points out. “By creating these new parking spaces, we hope to reduce the need for parking garages and surface lots which detract from Providence's charm.”
“With regard to the app, our biggest priority right now is finding more driveways and parking lots in the area,” Check out the above link, or Albie Brown directly at 415/250-3411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WAMA Hosts Exhibitors for Sidewalk Sale
WAMA is hosting the Wickenden Street Makers and Merchants Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, April 30th from 12-6 p.m. Exhibitors will include sculptors, painters, jewelry makers, potters, photographers, clothing designers, glass blowers, and
artists of all stripes at the event.
They will be setting up shop and selling their work on the sidewalks along Wickenden Street. Come out and support your local artists and small businesses, have a snack from a local food truck, and stay for dinner and drinks at one of Wickenden Street's many restaurants! For more information, go to www.facebook.com/wama.pvd
Thanks to Our Earth Day Volunteers!
FPNA would like to send our thanks to all the volunteers, who came out for the two Earth Day Clean Up events on Saturday, April 23. The teams of volunteers worked to beautify the Providence River Walk Park, by the hurricane barrier and the shoreline of Gano Park. The enthusiasm in our community for improving our public spaces is inspirational!