To say myself, the residents and the small businesses of the Silver Lake neighborhood are frustrated with Mayor Jorge O. Elorza would be a great understatement. His unilateral decision to close the Plainfield Street ramp on the 6-10 Connector is a disastrous decision and by doing so, he is effectively turning his back on the small businesses of the Silver Lake neighborhood and every Rhode Island resident who uses this ramp to access the 6-10 Connector.
Despite months of public outcry regarding this decision, Mayor Elorza has been ambiguous and non-committal to any plan other than his own. Even when presented with an alternative plan that was proposed that would give the mayor 90 percent of what he wants, such as development land, a bike path, and further community connections that have separated neighborhoods, but would still leave open the important Plainfield Street ramp, the mayor has stubbornly stuck to his very flawed plan.
The small business owners of Plainfield Street and the surrounding area are not rich people. The livelihoods of their families and their employees are dependent upon the traffic to the street. Mayor Elorza’s callous support of cutting off traffic to the street will cost these hard-working men and women untold amounts of business and income, and I personally would like to know why the mayor is turning his back to the needs of his constituents. He’s turning his back on these people for a small amount of developable space that will most likely be given to someone who does not live in the neighborhood and whose development will probably be subsidized by the very people who the mayor is disregarding with this ramp closure. Shame on Mayor Elorza for his support of this disastrous plan and for sending the very clear message to the small business owners of Plainfield Street that they don’t matter to him.
I stand with my colleague, Providence Councilman John J. Igliozzi, who cites the many negative impacts the removal of the Plainfield Street on-ramp would have on the neighborhood, including increased traffic congestion, increased environmental pollution and a detrimental financial impact to the existing businesses on Plainfield Street. This plan is being pushed through without an environmental justice study or an economic impact study and that is a true travesty to the people of this neighborhood.
And, even though this is a state project, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has made it clear she is acquiescing to the mayor’s fundamentally terrible and anti-democratic plan. I urge all residents of the Silver Lake neighborhood and all patrons of the Plainfield Street small businesses to contact Mayor Elorza’s office at (401) 421-2489, and the governor’s office at (401) 222-2080, and tell them that what Mayor Elorza is doing is just plain wrong.