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PBN supports the Working Waterfront

The Providence Business News today has a strong editorial in support of the Working Waterfront, an issue that I wrote about here:

Plans to re-develop the Providence waterfront for commercial and residential use would require zoning changes that eventually would lead to the displacement of century-old industrial businesses that are doing just fine, thank you very much. The effort is just plain wrong, and should be stopped.

The tool to do that is the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which is being voted on in City Council this week.

The argument concerns what that part of the waterfront should look like. Should it include waterfront condominiums, marinas and boardwalks? Or the admittedly more gritty oil storage facilities, ship rehabilitation services and other maritime-related industry? For there can be no doubt that industrial and residential uses cannot coexist.

Yes, change is a necessary part of a vibrant economy. And having recreational boaters out on the Providence River during the season is an appealing thought.

But the enterprises on the waterfront today are part of our vibrant economy. Removing the fuel storage facility would have a detrimental effect on local businesses – including hospitals — that depend on it for heating oil. And Promet Marine Services is the last ship repair yard in the state. Its owners say that fishing boats would have to go to Nova Scotia to get the same services they receive here now.

Providence has room for both pretty and gritty. This waterfront area has been zoned industrial for a long time, and there is no compelling reason to change that. •

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