Grow Smart RI, the Ocean State’s leading advocate for sustainable and equitable economic growth, will focus on critical development issues, including Aquidneck Island’s future growth, at its biennial Power of Place Summit on March 27. 

The Summit, held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, addresses cissues, from transportation to sustainability through general sessions and several workshops. 

Among the workshops is one that explores the Future of Aquidneck Island —  “Will it Run Out of space by 2050?“ The panel, moderated by Chuck Allott, executive director  of the Aquidneck Land Trust, will explore recently completed future development impact studies by the Land Trust, Sasaki Associates and the Town of Middletown. The panel will discuss the urgent need for conservation and innovative planning. Besides Allott, the panel includes Jill Allen Dixon, associate principal, Sasaki Associates, Inc.; Ron Wolanski, Middletown Planning Director; and Alex Chuman, stewardship director, Aquidneck Land Trust.

To register for the Summit or learn more about it visit http://www.growsmartri.org/2020-power-of-place-summit.

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The Summit also showcases two powerhouse speakers: Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., who is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute; and Scott Spencer, associate director of The Annie E. Casey Foundation and board chair of Smart Growth America.

Grow Smart will also honor Bill Hatfield, market president of Bank America, its Outstanding Smart Growth Leader; 122 North Main Street, Woonsocket as Outstanding Smart Growth Project; and Great Streets Initiative and Urban Trail Network Master Plan, Providence for Outstanding Smart Growth Policy/Plan.

Here’s what Grow Smart RI said about each award winner: 

As an outstanding civic leader, financial executive and community consciousness raiser, Bill Hatfield has championed advances for decades in the three pillars of the smart growth movement: Economy, Equity and Environment. He has also been generous both in providing financial support for Grow Smart RI through Bank of America, and sage counsel on how to establish effective coalitions and arguments for sustainable economic growth and quality of place. In the arena of economic and community revitalization, Bill has been a long time champion for one of Grow Smart Rl’s signature initiatives, the State Historic Tax Credit program, as well as increased State and private funding for affordable and workforce housing. While serving as Chair of the Providence Foundation, he forged a strong partnership with Grow Smart RI in support of a variety of critical investments and incentives for the revitalization of Downtowns and Main Streets throughout the state.

122 North Main Street, Woonsocket

122 North Main Street is the first major mixed-use development located in the Woonsocket Downtown Overlay District, a policy that earned a smart growth policy award in 2016. The project includes 17 market rate apartments on the upper floors with Lops Brewing and Office co-op business on the first floor. All the apartments were quickly rented soon after completion in January 2020 and were tastefully developed with all the modern everyday conveniences that renters are looking for. Located just steps away from the Stadium Theatre, local favorite eateries, and access to public transportation, these new units give the City more housing options but still affordable for everyday workers. The community rallied behind the project when it was first proposed and that broad community support was critical in securing unanimous approval for a slightly altered version of the project  by the Zoning Board.

Great Streets Initiative & Urban Trail Network Master Plan, Providence

Following a year-long, robust community engagement process, Great Streets was unveiled by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on January 27, 2020. The plan establishes a framework for public space improvements to ensure that every street in Providence is safe, equitable and sustainable. These improvements include streetscape and placemaking projects, safety improvements to make streets and intersections safer for people walking and riding bicycles, traffic calming to reduce speeding and cut through traffic, and the creation of a 75-mile “spine” network of Urban Trails that connect every Providence neighborhood. Other goals include improving traffic safety and personal safety within the public realm for people of all ages, abilities, and economic statuses, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and improving public health.

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Grow Smart Rhode Island provides statewide leadership for diverse public and private interests seeking sustainable and equitable economic growth. We promote such growth by advocating for compact development in revitalized urban, town, and village centers balanced with responsible stewardship of our region’s natural assets – farmland, forests, the coastline, and the Bay. We inform leaders, decision makers, and concerned citizens about the many benefits of compact development and asset stewardship and provide research and training on proven smart growth strategies. We convene broad coalitions that advocate policy reforms and specific projects designed to build communities where all people and businesses can thrive.

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