PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank board recently voted to award a total of $2.5 million in Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program funds several communities it deemed …
PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank board recently voted to award a total of $2.5 million in Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program funds several communities it deemed “actionable, impactful projects identified through a request for proposals process,” including two here in city.
East Providence received $200,000 for the construction of a 48-space parking lot in the Watchemoket Square District for patrons of local businesses and $100,000 towards the construction of an athletic field for recreation and field lighting.
“From upgrading sewer and stormwater infrastructure around affordable housing developments, to building a new riverwalk, to athletic field improvements, to Main Street revitalization, these grants will help our municipal partners implement infrastructure solutions that improve quality of life and spark economic development,” said Jeff Diehl, Executive Director and CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.
The parking lot is set to be built on an existing parcel of vacant land at Potter Street and Warren Avenue adjacent to an existing on ramp at Interstate 195. The lot has for years been conceived as a necessity for area, which in recent years has been deemed as the city’s Arts District.
It’s been seen as key of potentially redeveloping the long dilapidated Odd Fellows Hall. Back in 2019 the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva brokered a deal, subsequently approved by the City Council seated at the time, to sell the 140-year-old structure to Indigo Holdings LLC for the sum of $1.
Some work has been done on the the 2.5 story, 12,000 square foot hall since, but stalled upon the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising costs of construction materials.
The purchase and sales agreement allowed the property to qualify for East Providence tax stabilization program, establishing a single assessed value for five years. The city also offered a $100,000 interest-free loan to the buyer to perform repairs to the hall.
As well, the Odd Fellows Hall is in the city’s federally backed “Opportunity Zone.” The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act established the federal “Opportunity Zones” program and allowed states to nominate tracts by low income in areas where the program is intended to “spur investment through favorable capital gains treatment for investors who support eligible development projects.”
The $100k from the RIIB is earmarked to pay for the lighting component of the exterior improvement project in the process of being done in a what was a wooded area between the Riverside Middle School and the Riverside Recreational Park.
The DaSilva administration and the previous council late in 2022 approved a bid of $873,557 submitted by Yard Works, Inc. during a request for proposal process to build a parking lot in the rear of the school near the existing walking path that connects the two locations.
Some 100 spots were created in an attempt to alleviate congestion in the Somerset, Arrowhead and Kingsford Avenues neighborhood abutting the busy Rec baseball, softball and football fields as well the playground located there.
A multi-purpose grass field is also being constructed in the back of RMS. The regulation sized surface will be capable of hosting soccer, football and lacrosse. It will serve as a home base for the Vikings as well as another option for city-based sports organizations.
The parking lot is completed as are two new walking paths between the middle school and rec. Ground work continues on the site of the field. An irrigation company was on location earlier this week drilling the well that will service the field.