Renaissance group begins street sign replacement effort in Riverside

Initial new placards are being place in "The Square," more to follow


EAST PROVIDENCE — Residents and passers-by around Riverside Square will notice new, more decorative street signs denoting the roads in the area.

The signs were selected and paid for by the Riverside Renaissance Movement as part of a continuing aesthetic improvement program being conducted by the group, according to the organization's director Jason Rafferty.

Some 15 signs have been purchased initially through a fundraising effort, Mr. Rafferty continued. Those placards are being place specifically around the Square location. The ultimate aim of the RRM is to replace existing signs with the new version from the Square all the way down Bullocks Point Avenue to the Crescent Park/Looff Carousel.

"This is all part of our bigger goal to beautify and revitalize Riverside Square," Mr. Rafferty said. "By making physical improvements we hope to increase the marketability and viability of the Square."

The new signs are predominantly blue in color with the words "Riverside Square" arched over the name of street. Mr. Rafferty said the hue was chosen by RRM members as a way of connecting to the "nautical" theme of the area and its proximity to the city's shoreline. The signs are similar in nature to those paid for and erected by the city in the downtown area on Taunton Avenue.

Local residents and businesses donated upwards of $150 apiece towards the purchase of the signs, which are being put into place by the East Providence Public Works/Highway Department.

The list of donors included: Bruce and Bob Remick; Stevie’s D Riverside Tavern (Steve Medeiros, owner); Jason Rafferty, MD, MPH; Marilyn Eanet; Italian Gourmet (Jenni Chacon, owner); Riverside Congregational Church; and the Bentley Foundation.

Mr. Rafferty credited Turner Avenue resident Bob Remick, among others, will helping spearhead the effort.

"We grew up on Turner Ave. watching the parades march down the street long before it became a one way road," Mr. Remick said. "Even though my brother has lived in Virginia for the last 55-plus years, he still comes up for our annual ride down Turner Ave. and revisiting Riverside 'memory landmarks'…I can't wait till his next visit in the spring for us to take a Turner Ave. sign selfie!”

Often the target in the past of rejuvenation attempts by private and public entities alike, Riverside Square has recently been augmented with the opening of the Borealis Coffee Company at 250 Bullocks Point Ave., the small brick building that once housed a train depot. Borealis joins noted area establishments like the Dari Bee Ice Cream parlor, Rhode's Pizza and Stevie D's Bar & Grille, the former Lincoln Bar.

Of note as well, the city along with state and federal authorities are partnering in the construction of a new bus stop in the Square. The cost of the shelter project is $46,000, of which 80 percent is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the remaining 20 percent from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Wright Deter Enterprise, a Pawtucket-based company, has designed the structure, construction of which is expected to begin this spring.

Though the initial stage of the street sign replacement drive was privately financed, Mr. Rafferty said the RRM has been working with the city's Community Development Office to procure grant funding to continue the endeavor. Among the other aspects of the plan, which are currently in the design phase according to Mr. Rafferty, are to purchase new park-style benches and bike racks to be placed in the Square area. Also, a new sign denoting the presence of the East Bay Bike Path is in the works.

"This is really about the people coming together to get things accomplished," Mr. Rafferty added. "It's about getting people out and involved to build a sense of community."


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.