- Amy Mendillo for Providence Monthly
Brown Disregards Neighbors’ Pleas
As many Fox Point residents know, The Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) joined a coalition of neighborhood leaders last spring and summer to send letters of concern to Brown University President Christina Paxson regarding the university's plans to build two large dormitories on Brook Street—and in so doing, demolish three historic homes and displace several local businesses. The coalition also circulated a petition that was signed by over 1,100 neighbors. The result? The university will proceed with the project largely as planned. While the coalition acknowledged early-on that Brown would likely move ahead with construction itself, the group had hoped for concessions in order to reduce the scale of the designs, save the homes, and retain the businesses. While President Christine Paxson and other university leaders listened to neighborhood leaders at an in-person meeting in mid-September of last year and made minor adjustments to the designs of the dorms, by and large they did not compromise. The university has since broken ground on the project.
Coalition leaders responded with a flurry of public missives. Nick Cicchitelli of FPNA and Brent Runyon of the Providence Preservation Society stated in a ProJo opinion piece that, “University leaders need to demonstrate that they value the community in which they exist.” Neighbor Liz Mauran replied, “It is disheartening to see how Brown University treats our diverse neighborhood as though it doesn’t matter.” Vincent Buonanno, a lifelong College Hill resident, Brown alumnus, and trustee emeritus, describes Brown’s behavior as “arrogance.” City Councilor John Goncalves wrote in the Boston Globe, "Brown Can and Should Do More.”
While the coalition’s pleas with Brown did not end how neighbors had hoped, leaders at FPNA say they are pleased with the visibility of the public statements. And they plan to continue this advocacy in the months to come, particularly regarding the related topics of historic protections and zoning.
Image, Amy Mendillo