Posted 4/7/21

Hopkins announces start of Rolfe Square project Mayor Ken Hopkins on Monday announced the start of his "revitalization initiative" for Rolfe Square, which he has long eyed as a new center for dining and commerce in Cranston. "Rolfe Square has been

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Hopkins announces start of Rolfe Square project

Mayor Ken Hopkins on Monday announced the start of his “revitalization initiative” for Rolfe Square, which he has long eyed as a new center for dining and commerce in Cranston.

“Rolfe Square has been neglected for far too long,” the mayor said in a statement. “Trees have pulled up sidewalks creating pedestrian hazards. Located right across the street from City Hall, I believe that Rolfe Square can be yet another premier dining, shopping and social gathering location in the city. The businesses that have invested in the community deserve better and I am excited to begin work.”

He added: “I have seen far too many businesses struggle during these uncertain times. After meeting with many business owners in the neighborhood, I know that this project will invigorate the area. Cranston is open for business.”

According the mayor’s statement, the improvements include “but are not limited to” the replacement of trees, the “installation of decorative lighting and plants to enhance the character of the square” and the repainting of sign posts and flagpoles.

Check next week’s edition of the Herald for more coverage of the Rolfe Square work.

Providence Water advises of Cranston work

Providence Water plans to begin work on water mains in a portion of Cranston this spring, which “may disrupt normal traffic and require temporary by-pass water service connections for customers.”

A map provided with Providence Water’s announcement, shows the Cranston work taking place on the north side of Route 10. The affected area is largely between Pontiac Avenue on the west and Wellington Avenue on the east, and between Brookside Drive on the south and Paine Avenue on the north.

According to Providence Water, work on approximately 17.5 miles of water mains in Providence and Cranston will be included in the 2021 construction season, which runs “late March through November.”

The neighbors involved include Washington Park, Upper South Providence, the Charles Street area, the Blackstone Boulevard area and Mount Pleasant Avenue in Providence, as well as the Auburn area of Cranston.

The announcement reads: “Permanent restoration for Providence Water’s 2020 construction areas will begin in the Blackstone Boulevard section of Providence and the Edgewood and Auburn sections of Cranston.”

It continues: “Providence Water will be in regular communication with customers in affected neighborhoods to ensure that all are aware of upcoming construction dates and potential temporary service interruptions. Customers are encouraged to visit for detailed information and to call (401) 521-6303 with questions.”

District eyes outdoor graduation ceremonies

Plans are in progress for outdoor high school graduation ceremonies at Cranston Stadium, Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse told the School Committee during a work session Monday night.

“They’re going to look different, but I really want to be able to do something for the kids … I do believe that graduation will be held outside at the Cranston Stadium,” Nota-Masse said.

The graduation dates for Cranston High School East and Cranston High School West are tentatively scheduled for June 12-13, Nota-Masse said. The events would both be held at Cranston Stadium, rather than Cranston West’s new field, because the latter would not be large enough to accommodate the number of guests. Rain dates would be set as well.

Specific plans for the NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy’s graduation ceremony remain under development, Nota-Masse said, although that event, too, will likely be held outdoors.

Nota-Masse said the district continues to await updated guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health, which had been expected to come in recent days. She acknowledged a recent “uptick” in COVID-19 cases in the district, although she said there has been little spread within school buildings, even with more students now back in classrooms. She also said cases among adult members of the school community are “way down,” given the recent rollout of vaccinations to educators.

Planning for high school proms, meanwhile, remains fluid and the subject of ongoing discussions with state health officials, Nota-Masse said. She expressed a commitment to hold the proms in some form.

Nota-Masse said the district is also working on plans for high school honors nights. She suggested the new Cranston West field might provide a viable venue to host those events outdoors.

The superintendent also thanked Mayor Ken Hopkins and other city officials, who she said have been “phenomenal” in their support for putting on the traditional end-of-year events for graduating seniors.

“I’m really grateful and quite frankly blessed to be working with such willing participants,” she said.

The superintendent’s update Monday drew a positive response from members of the School Committee.

“I love that all these things are going to be outside. That’s so great,” Ward 1 representative Sara Tindall-Woodman said.

Elswhere during Monday’s work session, Nota-Masse said superintendents throughout the state are in continued discussions with the Rhode Island Department of Education regarding a statewide school calendar for the 2021-22 academic year. She also said she hopes to restore an early return for the “transition grades” – students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades who are attending a new school for the first time. In the past, she said, educators have found that approach to be “very helpful.”

“Especially after this year, anything we can do for them I think is important,” she said.

Nota-Masse additionally said the district has been in communication with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation regarding the impact of work on the Park Avenue railroad bridge for students who walk to Cranston East or Park View Middle School.

She said plans are being developed to have additional buses for students who typically walk, and that parents will be notified as the process moves forward. RIDOT, she said, has committed to provide two-week notification before the closure of the bridge and has “promised that they’ll be done before school begins” in the fall.

-- Daniel Kittredge

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