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Written and submitted by John Shea.
On Friday, March 15th , the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC), in conjunction with Connect Greater Newport and HousingWorks RI, brought the Aquidneck Island communities together in a Smart Island event to address housing issues at CCRI-Newport. This forum, attended by approximately 150 people from all perspectives, created a lively dialogue and exchange of ideas and potential solutions to the most pressing housing challenges facing the Island, and reinforced the need for all of us to work together to forge a better future for all our residents.
Presentations by city and town officials, housing and community advocates, economic development organizations, builders and major employers addressed lack of appropriate and affordable housing options for workers and families at all income levels, which is creating a non-sustainable Island community and barriers to economic development. Other housing challenges and impediments, including zoning restrictions, long-term planning, ‘dark’ neighborhoods, seasonal rentals, and the ability for older residents to age in their communities, were also addressed.
Most importantly, through interactive sessions and breakout workshops, residents were able to engage their neighbors in a civil discussion of long-term solutions to these housing challenges. While the forum was just a starting point for a continuing Island-wide dialogue on these issues, it did establish a groundwork for continuing civic engagement and cooperation among all Island residents.
The AIPC greatly appreciates the support of CCRI-Newport, BankNewport, Discover Newport, the Newport County Contractors’ Association and AARP-RI, who made this important forum possible. It is forward-looking groups such as these that are helping to build a better future for Aquidneck Island.
John Shea, Executive Director of Aquidneck Island Planning Commission
For more information on the forum, visit http://aquidneckplanning.org/our-2019-housing-forum-was-a-success/.