Grebien: Lots to look forward to in 2020

Grebien: Lots to look forward to in 2020

Editor’s note: The Breeze asked Mayor Donald Grebien to reflect on the year ahead in light of what transpired in 2019. Here’s what he had to say.

PAWTUCKET – As we look forward to 2020 and bid farewell to 2019, it is important to take a step back to reflect on our strengths and where we can improve as a community. The year was one of twists and turns, but one of real progress taking place in our city.

The improved quality of life services along with a prosperous, transparent government, keeps an affordable tax structure for our residents and creates a sustainable community. The city continues to prioritize and focus in on a better-quality education and learning environment for our children.

Our future lies with our students and they deserve the very best. Over the past few years, we have opened the doors to fully renovated Nathanael Greene and Potter-Burns Elementary Schools. Over the next two years, we continue with a complete ground-up rebuild of Henry Winters Elementary. With a $220 million school bond that was approved by voters with overwhelming support, we continue our focus on generational school improvements for our school district. We continue to modernize our schools to provide our children with a safe and conducive environment to learn with investments significantly reimbursed by the state, saving our taxpayers millions.

Economic development in the city continues to be a priority with the incoming Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and bus hub that will connect our city to both Providence and Boston. Construction has now started on the transit hub, the centerpiece of the new Conant Thread district. It will link our city neighborhoods by train, bus, pedestrian cycling routes and other multi-modal opportunities. We continue attracting the interest of a number of investors, businesses, developers, and residents who recognize that the new transit hub will provide easy access to desirable real estate with affordable development and rental costs.

The opportunity and growth continues, especially with the announcement of the largest economic investment in the history of Pawtucket. Tidewater Landing is a $400 million economic development project proposed by Fortuitous Partners. This project will transform Pawtucket’s riverfront with hundreds of thousands of square feet of new development, including a new professional soccer team that will compete in the USL Championship League. Included in the projects are a 200-room hotel, a 7,500-seat stadium, commercial office space, and an indoor events center.

Upgrades to our roads and infrastructure have also been an essential part of the reinvestment in our community. Over the past nine years, more than 100 miles of the city’s 180 miles of road have been repaved. Complete renovations of Payne Park and San Bento Park have been completed, with John Street Park to be completed in the spring. The historic Looff Carousel at Slater Park has also been refurbished and the city’s garage has been redeveloped as we look to rejuvenating the downtown and spurring more activity.

The investment in our infrastructure will continue with energy efficiency upgrades ongoing in city facilities including the Pawtucket Public Library and the complete conversion of our streetlights to LEDs, making Pawtucket cleaner and greener while saving taxpayer dollars.

A main focus for 2020, outside of the new economic opportunities, will be to double down on zoning services to address neighborhood issues. Providing quality and affordable health services will continue to be a top priority. I want to personally thank the members of the Pawtucket City Council and our delegation to the General Assembly who have worked diligently with all stakeholders on this important issue for Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley.

While it is always important to look back, I am more excited than ever for what is on the horizon in 2020. We will continue to progress our city forward and continue building on this past year’s successes.

The city is ready to take on the new year and continue the evolution. I hope that you are too. I wish you and your family a very healthy and prosperous 2020.

Donald R. Grebien

Mayor of Pawtucket