I-195 Commission worries over budget

COLIN P. Kane, head of the I-195 Redevelopment Commission, said the commission will head back to the Statehouse with "tin cups" to ask for an increase on the $900,000 state officials expect to last for the next three years.
Posted 10/16/12

PROVIDENCE - The commission managing the former Interstate-195 lands considered the $900,000 in this year’s state budget the minimum needed each year to redevelop and maintain the downtown properties. But I-195 Commission Chairman Colin Kane said Monday that state budget officials have told him they expect that money to last three years.

“It was a surprise,” Kane said about learning from budget officials representing the governor, House and Senate leadership last Wednesday that they did not expect to repeat the fiscal 2013 appropriation in the budget for next year. “There is surely a minimum standard that clearly I didn’t [previously] articulate strongly enough.”

While deciding how best to develop the 20 buildable acres of land left behind by the highway is the primary goal of the commission, it is also tasked with overseeing and maintaining up to 14 acres of parkland.

Kane said once the Commission has taken ownership of the former highway lands and built new parks there, it will likely cost around $1 million each year to manage.

He said he was still confident that state leaders support the I-195 redevelopment project and differences on the budget could be the result of confusion in the bureaucracy and not a policy decision.

Maintenance of parks and development lots before they are sold has been an ongoing concern of the commission, which is now seeking bids from maintenance companies for initial cleanup work.

Kane cited the $4 million annual budget for the 15-acre Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway as something the Commission is trying to avoid, but also the inherent cost of maintaining large swaths of public land.

The Commission is scheduled to receive a detailed presentation on the park plans Nov. 19.

In the meantime, Kane said he plans to meet with state officials again regarding funding Friday.

“We will be back at the Statehouse with tin cups,” Kane said.

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