PROVIDENCE – Grow Smart Rhode Island announced the winners of its eighth annual Rhode Island Smart Growth Awards Friday.
The awards will be presented at the Pavilion at Grace, 300 Westminster St. in Providence, on April 30. Former Mass. Gov. Michael S. Dukakis will be the keynote speaker.
“Each year, passionate, creative and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state’s full potential through projects, plans and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits, both statewide and in specific neighborhoods,” stated Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf.
This year, Barbara Fields was named as the Outstanding Smart Growth Leader. Fields recently exited her role as director at R.I. Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp. on March 1.
Grow Smart said of Fields, “Barbara has been a steward, stalwart and respected leader in the Smart Growth and community-development movements.” The organization added, “Barbara has always put transportation choices, walkable neighborhoods, compact design, access to education and health care services, and all the other tenets of smart growth front and center in her approach to directing housing finance and advocacy.”
The organization also honored four “Outstanding Smart Growth Projects” in 2019, the South Street Landing project in Providence, the Pascoag Village: Fernwood & Greenridge project in Burrillville, the Innovate Newport project in Newport and the 60 King project in Providence.
- The awards called the South Street Landing project a “catalyst for the revitalization of Providence’s Jewelry District.”
- The Pascoag Village: Fernwood & Greenridge Commons project was honored for illustrating Smart Growth principles of “promoting compact design, historic building patterns, retention of open space, use of existing infrastructure, rural Main Street revitalization and public-transportation routes.”
- Of the Innovate Newport project, the organization said, “Rather than risking the stately brick building being torn down, the city – in partnership with the Newport County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation of R.I. – saw a unique opportunity to optimize an adaptive reuse project to spark innovation and provide a home for entrepreneurs and established businesses.”
- The 60 King project was honored for adaptively reusing a vacant historic mill building for mixed-income rental housing. The organization said the project was one of the first in the redevelopment of the Olneyville neighborhood to be contemplated in the Build Olneyville Plan.”
The 2019 Smart Growth awards also included two “Outstanding Smart Growth Policies/Plans,” this year featuring the town of Warren, as well as the University of Rhode Island Transportation & Parking Master Plan in South Kingstown.
- Warren was honored for an “assertive and holistic approach” across a slate of initiatives and projects, including climate resiliency plans, small-business development, bicycle tourism and investment into renewable energy.
- The URI transportation and parking plan at its South Kingstown campus was recognized as a plan that grew the campus while “enhancing mobility, efficiency and sustainability.” The plan was credited as resulting in an improved shuttle service, as well as automated license-plate recognition parking and improved signage, making the campus more pedestrian friendly without sacrificing a “distinct sense of place.”