Sept. 14, 2015. Jewelry District Association issues position statement on PawSox ball park proposal. The full text follows:
Jewelry District Association votes “NO!”
to a PawSox stadium on the I-195 redevelopment land
While initial reaction to the PawSox proposed stadium in April appeared to be largely negative, some members of the JDA urged that no decision be made pro or con until further information became available.
So the Association has remained neutral. Until now. After months of discussion, the PawSox proposal is locked up at the office of the Speaker of the House; no meaningful new details are forthcoming, financial or otherwise.
Two weeks ago, when the active members of the JDA were asked to vote on locating the stadium on Parcels 4, 14 and 42 of the I-195 redevelopment area, their vote was decisive: 66% Opposed. 21% For. And 13% Abstaining.
The JDA has not made a hasty or uninformed decision.
As soon as the PawSox made their original proposal, we invited them to a JDA monthly meeting. In one of his last public appearances, James Skeffington presented the PawSox case to a packed JDA meeting and conducted a lively Q & A session.
In the months since, JDA leadership and individual members have attended many information sessions – PawSox presentations, public forums organized by stadium opponents, meetings of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.
It is clear that the original financial proposal from the PawSox was a raid on the pockets of all the tax payers in Rhode Island. A land grab. A blow to Pawtucket. An inflated claim of job generation. A fanciful notion that the stadium could work as multi-use venue for football, baseball, ice hockey and concerts.
Planning to create a vibrant new core in the Jewelry District.
For more than a decade, the JDA has been working with the City of Providence, the I-195 Commission, RIDOT and many local organizations to make sure the land freed by the demolition of I-195 would develop as a vibrant, new, mixed-use center for the historic Jewelry District neighborhood.
The nearly five acres (Parcel 4) on the Providence River waterfront that the PawSox want for the ball park are designated for a public park by the Federal Highway Administration. With its footbridge linking the east and west sides of the river, the park will be a unique place for public enjoyment. The city of Providence demonstrated remarkable foresight when it opened up the river to the public years ago. The new park will expand a resource that has won Providence national renown as a walkable, livable city.
And, invisibly to all but engineers, the park plays a key role in a complex storm water abatement system designed to allow large-scale building in the I-195 redevelopment area. If the ball park goes in, more millions of dollars would be needed to rework the infrastructure.
As the I-195 parcels begin to fill up with buildings, the park will be the only open space for the new residents and workers in the Jewelry District. It will not be the narrow linear extension of the river walk that the PawSox said they’d allow alongside their stadium wall.
It will offer a wide open space for multiple public activities year ‘round. (Unlike a baseball stadium that sits empty nine months a year, a useless hulk blocking the broad river vista opened to the public by the destruction of I-195.)
The JDA is not opposed to a baseball park in principle, just not on the proposed site.
If McCoy Stadium (for which the citizens are still paying) and Pawtucket must be abandoned – and we ask Why? – the JDA would welcome the PawSox at some alternate site.
But whatever the site, it must involve: NO land giveaway. NO public money. NO subsidies or tax cuts. NO loan guarantees or lease/leaseback deals that make the owners a profit at the taxpayers’ expense.
We urge the public to join us in saying NO to a baseball stadium on parcels 4, 14 and 42.