One way - their way
There was no room for doubt at the Park View Middle School community meeting last Tuesday: Cranston felt slighted by the City of Providence.
In one of the more significant bipartisan, cross-city efforts in recent months, parties from both sides of the aisle voiced their concerns about the plan. Mayor Allan Fung and Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins, both Republicans, were distraught about the lack of communication between the cities. Sen. Josh Miller and City Councilmen John Lanni Jr., Steven Stycos and Paul McAuley were also against the advances.
However, these calls for a stay of execution fell on deaf ears. Providence moved ahead with the Roger Williams one-way plan, despite the overwhelming backlash when the concept surfaced.
It all could have been avoided, too. Fung said, in a latter to Mayor Elorza a couple weeks ago, that he was not notified of the changes until May 8. While Roger Williams Park is not in Cranston, it is foolish to ignore the impact it has on the city.
Plenty of residents voiced their opinions at Park View last Tuesday. From Diane Lewis, who said the park helps her relax after a long day, to Anne Hird, a jogger struck by a reckless driver in 1987 who was partially paralyzed for nearly two decades. Residents came from different walks of life, of all ages, from middle school to the elderly. Cranston was blindsided.
If Cranston were going to make a change that would impact Warwick, it would stand to reason that Warwick would be contacted to gauge the impact on the city. Fung said Tuesday that if he were going to do work on Atwood Avenue, he would contact Mayor Joseph Polisena in Johnston to see what effects it would have on his side of the road.
It would take more than a couple of phone calls. So, a traffic study could clear the air, right? Not quite.
As Cranston Director of Public Works Ken Mason pointed out, the traffic study should have included adjacent streets such as Elmwood Avenue, Park Avenue, Broad Street and Warwick Avenue. Also, the study may have been too large for any city traffic engineer to handle. While Providence stands by the fact the analysis applied solely to the park, it should have taken into consideration the potential effects a one way system would have during school hours at Park View.
Providence’s prime concern is public safety, namely bicyclists or walkers within the park. This is a noble cause, but it might be a wash. If park safety is enhanced, that could mean more speeding and running stop signs through side streets. That has already been reported, according to Fung.
It also creates more traffic for the students walking to school. The Park/Broad/Warwick intersection is already a nightmare, and time will tell if this could make it worse. (Although a proper traffic study probably could have done the same.)
Providence is well within its right to change the park traffic pattern, as it owns the park. That being said, it isn’t very neighborly to take into account how beneficial or detrimental it could be to Cranston.
It seems it will take more than offering a cup of sugar to settle this.