The Back Story: Cumberland's open for business
Friends around Cumberland who quiz me about the “real story” may feel like they’re getting a special insider’s view, but really there’s very little that I wouldn’t be willing to share with anyone who asked.
So that’s what this new blog, or online journal, is all about - the back story if you will, news bits that for many reasons doesn’t find their way into a regular new story.
What this new blog won’t do is offer up my personal opinions about local issues.
Instead, I’m hoping to shed light on how those decisions are made and what issues that Cumberland residents might want to keep an eye on.
I’m also expecting to share some insights into how we work at The Valley Breeze & Observer newspapers.
We’ll see where this goes.
It’s been years since I wrote a column and the first-person focus on me feels uncomfortable, to be honest. But here we go.
It was after 11:30 p.m. last week when the Town Council finally wrapped its single meeting of August.
I had plenty of time to reflect on exactly why the agenda was so jam-packed, even after several big items were postponed.
Maybe it’s premature to say this, but Cumberland seems to be experiencing a bit of business boom.
On last week’s agenda, Cumberland Hill hairdresser ENEIDA VANN got permission to expand up in Cumberland Hill; Cumberland’s RUDY HANCOCK won approval to establish a brand-new garden center where STEVE VADENAIS currently has his giant mulch operation on Pine Swamp and West Wrentham roads; and COLIN KANE of Kirkbrae Development won the nod to create 200 high-end apartments at Highland Corporate where his firm had planned 100 condos.
In recent months, CHUCK LOMBARDI, whose Cumberland Collision auto body business is at BOB JOLY’S old place next to the Police Station, won an easy go-ahead to rezone 420 Mendon Road, at the bottom of Marshall Avenue where he’ll relocate. A Cumberland resident, he's the son of the North Providence mayor.
COLBEA Enterprises LLC, which owns the Shell station at 2095 Diamond Hill Road, seems to be finding ready town support to raze and red-do its Chapel Four Corners site.
Add two more to these: the proposals for a concert venue at Diamond Hill Park and a new Blackstone Valley Prep charter school on Broad Street. I’ve heard both also billed as economic stimulators
And don’t forget the new sign ordinance described as “promot(ing) a good business climate” that includes among other changes “stagnant” electronic signs where the lettering can change no more than every five minutes.
All the activity coincides with the arrival of a new director of planning, attorney KELLEY MORRIS, who used to specialize in real estate development and makes no secret that economic development is topping her agenda.
Some of the activity surely would have happened anyway, but it seems that since her arrival, the phrase “business-friendly” might accurately be applied to Cumberland, perhaps for the first time.