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Pawtucket is a city of 71,148 residents founded in 1671, at the strategic falls of the Blackstone River and the upper tidewaters of Narragansett Bay. It is a city with a special place in the industrial history of the United States. For it was here at the Slater Mill Historic Site that Samuel Slater successfully constructed and operated machines for spinning cotton yarn in 1793. Besides textiles, a variety of machines and iron working shops grew up alongside the textile industry.
We hope you find our new Web site to be a useful resource. Our contact information is listed below. Thanks for visiting!
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Building on popularity with the public that has – literally – grown as it has gone along, city officials are looking to bring the new Free Tree Program back for another round.
Working with residents throughout the city, the Department of Public Works implemented the Free Tree Program, which brings young trees to city sidewalks, as part of Mayor Donald R. Grebien administration's citywide beautification efforts.
To date, approximately 85 trees have been planted during the spring and summer seasons for residents who put in their requests last fall. Another 70 applications already received are currently being evaluated for the fall planting season.
For the next round, the application deadline is Nov. 1, 2014 for the spring 2015 planting season.
"We thought this was a 'green' idea that would catch on quickly with the public and that's exactly what has happened," said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. "We're pleased to bring all the benefits trees can offer, from improving the environment to brightening the city streetscape, to as many residents as we can by continuing to support the program."
"The public's response has been extremely positive from the start," DPW Director Lance Hill said. As first announced last August, Hill noted the Free Tree Program offers several types of trees: Chinese Elm, Bowhall Red Maple, Littleleaf Linden and London Plan Tree, all suitable for urban environments. Offered for plantings that would be sited under power lines are Chanticleer Pear and Japanese Zelkova trees.
The city provides mulch upon installation by a licensed arborist contractor, with long term maintenance the responsibility of the property owner. To encourage participation, Hill said, highest priority is given to joint applications by neighboring residents.
Thus far trees have been planted on or near Smithfield Avenue, Power Road, Main Street, Pawtucket Avenue, Benefit Street, Daggett Avenue and Armistice Boulevard, among many others. Hill said federal block grant funding has been identified to extend the effort with additional plantings in 2015.
Applications are available at the Public Works Center, 250 Armistice Blvd., or can be printed from the city website at www.pawtucketri.com/departments/engineering. (Because the applications require a signature, they cannot be completed online). Residents seeking further information about the program can contact the Department of Public Works at 728-0500, ext. 339 or by email at email@example.com.
The city also maintains its traditional 50-50 funding program for sidewalk construction for both homes and businesses, with applications on the city website or at the DPW office.
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2014 AT 11 A.M.
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
Victory Day will be observed in Pawtucket on Monday, August 11, 2014 with a ceremony and wreath-laying at 11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Exchange Street, adjacent to the City Hall complex.
Mayor Donald R. Grebien will give remarks. Members of the Pawtucket City Council are also kindly invited as well as members of the public, particularly veterans. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held at the Major Walter G. Gatchell Post 306, VFW, 171 Fountain St. at Blake Street.
Co-chairs for the event are Capt. James Robbins, Commander, Lawrence E. Redmond Post Chapter 3, DAV, Pawtucket, Past Commander Maurice Trottier, Treasurer Jim Hollis, Penelope Trottier of the Gatchell Post Ladies Auxiliary and Jack Lucas, State Officer of the American Legion who will act as emcee, under overall sponsorship of the Pawtucket Veterans Council.
Refreshments, under supervision of Penelope Trottier and members of the Gatchell Post Auxiliary, will be served after the ceremony at the Post home, 171 Fountain St.Pawtucket City Hall will also be closed on Monday, August 11 in observance of Victory Day.
Building on its expanded efforts last year, a city department is seeking to add volunteers for its Environmental Task Force to bring greater focus and faster response to property maintenance violations and other quality of life issues.
Shaun Logue, director of Zoning and Code Enforcement, said volunteers are being recruited to look for potential environmental and housing violations in the Fairlawn and Woodlawn neighborhoods. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact the Zoning office at 401-728-0500 ext. 347 or Logue by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides the assistance from the volunteers, the city is also taking a proactive approach to violations. "One of our inspectors will be going up and down every street in those neighborhoods looking for outward signs of property maintenance neglect that may need correction. We're looking for things that affect the quality of life in the neighborhood," Logue said.
Logue said he will be speaking on the program at Thursday's meeting of the Fairlawn Against Crime Team (F.A.C.T.) at the Smithfield Avenue Congregational Church Hall, 514 Smithfield Ave., at 6 p.m. He noted that the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association, which does not meet this month, will carry news of the volunteer effort in its July newsletter.
"The volunteers were our eyes and ears in the neighborhoods when we stepped up our code enforcement efforts last year in Woodlawn and Fairlawn," Logue said. "They will get basic instruction in what to look for and then work to provide information that our minimum housing inspectors can follow up on in a more formal way."
Some of those volunteers have continued with the program but more are needed. The general idea is to spot potential environmental and housing violations that can then be resolved as soon as possible, Logue said. Last year the first phase on the Fairlawn effort alone resulted in more than 300 properties receiving notice of violations, also including for junk, debris, overgrowth, wood piles and uncovered garbage containers, among others.
Logue said last year's task force work and initiatives like the "E-rat" program using computer software to track rodent problems have had very positive results and hopefully will continue to reduce violations over time. He said the volunteer assistance remains key. "Their passion for their neighborhoods definitely made a difference and hopefully inspires others to take similar pride in their community," he said.
The task force will begin work on July 28. Volunteers will carry visible identification. Each Friday they will turn in their lists for Zoning Department staff to review for scheduled follow-up by housing and environmental inspectors, who alone can issue citations to the city Housing Court.
A National Endowment for the Arts grant announced today will bring public art to city bridges visible to both pedestrians and highway travelers alike. Pawtucket will receive a $75,000 grant for the project.
"We are extremely pleased our application was approved for these highly competitive grants," Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. "This project will allow us to visually enhance these transportation gateways that link our neighborhoods to the core of the city while involving local artists in the process."
The city, through the Department of Planning and Redevelopment, was successful in its application for an NEA Our Town grant for a project "to support the redesign of highway overpasses that connect Pawtucket's neighborhoods to the downtown."
Barney Heath, director of Planning and Redevelopment, said the city and its primary nonprofit partner for the application, the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative, will work with the seven-member Arts Advisory Commission on Arts and Culture, appointed by Grebien last year to promote arts and culture in publicly owned spaces in the city, to advise the project.
Other project partners will include XO+ Studios, a downtown-based nonprofit collaboration of artists and designers, the Pawtucket Citizens Development Corp. and Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, as well as the R.I. Department of Health and Pawtucket School Department. The R.I. Department of Transportation, which is also supportive of the project, will review the proposed public art installation and the Pawtucket Foundation will assist with social media outreach.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu today announced plans to award 66 Our Town grants totaling $5.073 million, reaching 38 states, in the program's fourth year of funding. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000.
Since the inception of the Our Town program in 2001, the NEA has awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the NEA news release, "This year's Our Town projects demonstrate again that excellent art is as fundamental to a community's success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts -based community development projects in a way that is authentic, equitable, and augments existing local assets."
For a complete listing of Our Town grant support, project descriptions, grants listed by state and project type and resources available, go to the NEA Web site at www.arts.gov.
The city Tax Collections office will be temporarily relocated in City Hall for four to six weeks to allow renovation of the current space that will include basic painting, space realignment and the updating of data and phone lines.
The Tax Collections office will be temporarily relocated to the former Engineering Department, located on the first floor down the hallway to the right of the information desk in the City Hall lobby, beginning on Monday, July 21. Normal office operations will be unaffected.
Tax Collections will be returned to the normal office, also on the first floor of City Hall, once city employees complete the work, which is being undertaken to improve service including providing information stations for the public.
Appropriate signage will also be posted in the City Hall lobby directing the public during the temporary relocation period.
The city is looking to inspire local artists to brighten the urban landscape by transforming typically bland utility boxes into works of art. Approximately 16 city-owned utility boxes, spread across Pawtucket, will become canvases for works of art through the project.
The Pawtucket PaintBox Project, modeled on a similar successful effort in Providence, is described in a recently issued request for proposals and is being organized by the city's Advisory Commission on Arts and Culture. Deadline for entries is Aug. 14.
The new volunteer arts panel, chaired by Miriam Plitt, who has been involved in city arts and cultural projects for many years, was formed last fall at the direction of Mayor Donald R. Grebien and is charged with encouraging projects to recognize and celebrate local artists.
Participating artists will receive a $300 stipend for the cost of all materials required to complete and protect their artwork. Applicants must be age 18 or older, live in or have a permanent studio or office in the city, and can submit a maximum of three designs.
Guidelines state that designs "may be representational or abstract but must respond to the urban context and be appropriate given the location and audience," and should be adjusted to accommodate the size of the utility boxes, which will vary.
"Submissions will be considered under a rolling admission and kept on file for future consideration," the RFP states. "The selected artists will be notified only if or when their designs are selected."
Applicants may specify which neighborhoods or boxes they would prefer to work on but the decision of the arts advisory panel will be final. The rules also require scraping, cleaning and priming the utility box surface, using durable materials, avoiding "dark palettes in order to prevent boxes from overheating," applying a protective varnish or wax coating and avoiding applying paint in a way that would interfere with operation of the box.
All art work submitted for consideration must be original and solely owned by the artists and the city will retain the right to make reproductions such as in brochures, publicity or other similar purposes, among other rules.
The detailed RFP including rules for how to apply for the project, which is being funded under a federal block grant administered by the city Department of Planning and Redevelopment, is available on the city website at www.pawtucketri.com, under the Purchasing Department tab.
The city's improving financial picture received further objective recognition from a major credit rating agency last week, with Moody's affirming the city's current bond rating at investment grade while raising Pawtucket's rating outlook for general obligation debt from negative to stable. The credit outlook on other outstanding city debt was similarly raised.
Last November, Fitch Ratings also affirmed its investment grade rating of city general obligation bonds while boosting the city's credit outlook from stable to positive, its second outlook upgrade in two years.
"The Moody's rating affirmation and outlook upgrade continue the trend of positive financial news for our residents and taxpayers and show that the city is on a fiscal path to progress," Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. "We still have a long way to go but we're steadily getting there."
Moody's affirmed its Baa2 rating on the city's $34.9 million in long-term general obligation bonds. According to Moody's rating system, obligations rated Baa are medium investment grade with moderate credit risk, with the 2 modifier designating the debt obligations at a mid-range ranking in the category.
In giving its ratings rationale Moody's cited, among other factors, the city's moderately-sized tax base, relatively low tax burden, improving financial position including a reduction in the accumulated deficit in the school fund and the city's recent funding of 100 percent of its annual required pension contributions, or ARC. Moody's also cited an overall "adequate and improving General Fund position," including strengthening the city "rainy day" reserves fund.
"The stable outlook reflects our belief that the city will maintain improved operating position, elimination of cash flow borrowing and full funding of the locally administered pension ARC with a pending funding improvement plan to reduce its unfunded liability," Moody's stated.
The report noted the city faces financial challenges including an accumulated deficit in the School Unrestricted Fund, low income indicators and large unfunded pension and other post-employment benefits. The report also stated strengthening operating reserves and continued improvement in unfunded liabilities could make the city credit rating go up.
The full report, issued July 2, is available online at www.moodys.com.
This season of graduations, commencement speeches and transition to new challenges and opportunities is always one of the most hopeful and uplifting times of the year. The focus, as it should be, is on the graduates and their plans and dreams for the future.
What should not go unnoticed -- but too often goes unrecognized -- is that the Pawtucket school system, which the Class of 2014 is now leaving behind, continues to show marked improvement at numerous schools and in several testing and other areas, according to the standardized measurements employed for several years now.
While the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) scores have run into some controversy concerning student graduation requirements, and are now due to be replaced by another metric, they can still provide valuable measurements of an individual school's progress.
In Pawtucket, those latest NECAP numbers (dating to October 2013) show that two elementary schools and the city's arts high school have particularly shown outstanding year-to-year performance:
In another important measurable area, when Shea and Tolman high schools were put into "transformation" status by state education officials about three years ago, their graduation rates were both badly lagging. Part of the problem was that students leaving the system weren't being tracked and so were all counted as dropouts, but other changes were needed as well.
Improvements quickly followed. The latest graduation rate for Shea, under new Principal Don Miller, and Tolman, under new Principal Chris Savastano, were respectively 83 percent and 71 percent, both representing improvements of more than 20 percent from two years earlier.
Interim School Superintendent Patricia DiCenso, who has brought outstanding leadership and new energy to that position, with Chief School Performance Officer Kathleen Suriani and the two new principals are determined to see those figures continue to rise when the graduation rates are annually updated in November. We have also seen Reading scores improve to 72 percent proficiency at Tolman and Writing scores move up 20 percent at Shea, so hopefully their transformation status may soon be over.
There are numerous other bright spots of academic achievement throughout our school system:
All those scores represent major improvements. Progress has been slower at Slater and Jenks junior high schools but a sound plan is in place and we look forward to seeing their performance move up as well.
One thing to watch for on the near horizon is the kind of concerted effort, and commitment of appropriate resources, being applied to Math instruction that for the past several years has been boosting Reading and Writing scores. When our school teachers and administrators put a strong emphasis on something, their track record shows that significant improvements are sure to follow.
As I visit with principals and teachers around our school district, I am always struck by their great dedication and pride in seeing their students succeed and their concern and commitment to do what's needed to make that happen. That is not something that can be measured by any test but it's certainly something that success cannot happen without.
We still have far to go, and the new math initiative is particularly welcome in that regard. What would also be welcome is a state aid allocation that more fairly acknowledges the challenges that Pawtucket and similar communities must face today.
As parents of two school-age children, my wife Laureen and I, like parents everywhere, see every day the difference that good schools and good teachers can make in the lives of their students. Our schools and teachers in Pawtucket, though they don't spend much time patting themselves on the back for it, are increasingly making that difference for the future of our children.
At a time when gaining skills and knowledge is often the key to small business success, hundreds of participants took part this spring in a series of free workshops open to the public set up by the U.S. Small Business Administration's district office in cooperation with the City of Pawtucket.
A total of 11 seminars, free and open to the public, were conducted under an agreement between SBA and co-sponsors the Pawtucket Foundation, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, TD Bank, SCORE and the Center for Women & Enterprise.
"The public response to these workshops held in Pawtucket on how to start or grow a successful small business was overwhelmingly positive," Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. "SBA and its public and private co-sponsors were outstanding partners with the city in offering this opportunity and we hope to work with them again soon."
According to Rhode Island SBA District Director Mark S. Hayward, the 11 seminars attracted a total of 224 participants. The most popular workshops included Small Business Resources (48 participants), Accounting for Non-Accountants (a combined 32 participants for two versions, in English and Spanish) and Creating a Marketing Plan (28). Also drawing 20 or more were the workshops on Social Media, Writing a Business Plan and A-Z Guide to Lending while the seminar on Legal Structure attracted 17 participants.
"This workshop series has been a tremendous success," said Hayward. "It is our hope that this series will stimulate the small business community in Pawtucket to grow and succeed."
The training and counseling sessions were made possible under an agreement signed in February by Seth A. Goodall, SBA New England regional administrator, Aaron Hertzberg, executive director of the Pawtucket Foundation, John C. Gregory, president and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Frank Casale, senior vice president of TD Bank, George Hemond, chair of the Rhode Island SCORE chapter, and Carmen Diaz-Jusino, program manager of the Center for Women & Enterprise, as well as Mayor Grebien and District Director Hayward.
"This co-sponsorship," Goodall said at the time, "will enable us to deliver relevant training events to meet the needs of start-up businesses, businesses poised for growth or businesses that may be struggling and need expert guidance."
The city hosted the sessions in the downtown Blackstone Valley Visitor Center building at 175 Main St.
Armed with a street-by-street plan, the city is moving forward to put $3.5 million in state low-cost bond funds for roads repaving to quick use beginning this summer.
The city has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to conduct the roadway repaving according to the prioritized list of streets resulting from an outside study done last year. That study also estimated total road repair costs citywide at $28 million.
Competitive bids on the work are scheduled to be opened at the Purchasing Board meeting on July 10, leading to selection of a contractor to get the work underway.
"We literally have miles to go but this will get us off to a good start on repairs to our roads that have been neglected for far too many years," Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. "This innovative program also lightens the load on our taxpayers by allowing us to borrow at lower rates."
The Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund was approved last year by the General Assembly. Grebien testified in favor of the bill.
The competitive program is administered by the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency, which has Triple-A credit ratings from all three major rating agencies, the highest of any state government agency. The high rating allows the city to borrow at rates more favorable than it would receive on its own.
With the independent study, the city submitted an application to the new state loan program and was initially awarded $1.75 million. That amount was recently increased to $3.5 million, one of the highest amounts approved for any municipality in the state. Part of the funding will be allocated to a reserve fund to provide for any unforeseen contingencies.
The city's authority to bond the repaving work was approved this spring by the City Council.
Grebien said he will also seek voter support this fall for a proposed $15 million city bond for road repairs to maintain the momentum started under the new state program.
Providence Business News Supplement
Mayor Donald R. Grebien announced that extended hours of service at City Hall, first initiated for the last quarter of 2013 through April 2014, will continue through October. The extended hours will again be available until 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.
The increased availability for the public will continue to include the Board of Canvassers, where residents can register to vote or use other services, City Clerk, Tax Assessor, Tax Collections, Mayor's Office and Zoning & Code Enforcement Department.
The Thursday dates when the added service will be available are: Aug. 21, Sept. 18 and Oct. 16, 2014.
"The extended hours program is particularly meant to serve people who may be unable to come to City Hall during regular business hours," Mayor Donald R. Grebien said. "We are pleased to provide the added convenience for anyone who needs it and better serve the public."
Grebien said the added hours also helps fulfill his pledge to provide greater access to municipal government services for residents and businesses.
For additional information, contact the Mayor's Office at 728-0500, ext. 281 or any of the City Hall offices that will be open for extended hours. Normal City Hall hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Grab your cameras and compose that picture! The City of Pawtucket and The Camera Werks of Providence announce the 16th Annual City of Pawtucket Photo Contest. The twelve winning photos, to be selected by a panel of local professional photographers, will illustrate the City of Pawtucket 2015 City Calendar.
This annual contest provides an opportunity to bring awareness to daily life, historic locations and the ever changing landscape of Pawtucket through the lens of a camera. The contest is open to residents and non-residents alike, but the photo must have been taken in Pawtucket. This year's contest theme is "Coloring Pawtucket."
Contest Rules: All photo submissions should follow the contest theme and have been taken within the past year. All photos must be taken in the City of Pawtucket to qualify for this contest. Only one entry per contestant will be accepted and must be submitted by the photographer. Photos may be color or black and white. Film or good quality digital prints will be accepted. All photos must be of good quality and suitable for reproduction.
Submitted photos should be mounted on foamcore or mountboard, but not framed; overall size of the mounted photo should not be smaller than 8"x10" or larger than 12"x18". All photos will be on display at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center during the City of Pawtucket's Arts Festival in the month of September. The Mayor's Choice Award will receive a $100 cash prize, First Place will receive a$75.00 cash prize, Second Place will receive a $50.00 cash prize with remaining winners receiving gift certificates.
All winning photos will be used in the City of Pawtucket 2015 Calendar. Submissions will be accepted beginning May 1, by which time application forms will be available at various locations or downloadable on-line. Deadline for Entry: August 12, 2014. For further information, call (401) 273-5367.
The City of Pawtucket is establishing a public notice registry, for any person interested in receiving electronic notice of any changes to Pawtucket's land use and subdivision regulations or Zoning Ordinance. To be listed on this registry, please contact Kerri Vecoli at 401-724-5200 or email@example.com.
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