CUMBERLAND/CENTRAL FALLS/PAWTUCKET – A company will draft an economic revitalization and social equity plan for the areas of Valley Falls and Lonsdale, wrapping in the Broad Street corridor running from Cumberland through Central Falls and into Pawtucket.
The Cumberland Town Council, at its June 1 meeting, authorized Mayor Jeff Mutter to enter into a control of up to $100,000 with New York-based 4Ward Planning to draft the plan, which is funded through a grant from Rhode Island Commerce.
Planning and Community Development Director Jonathan Stevens said the goal is to help create a better version of an area that’s in the midst of a revitalization.
“The town seeks to create a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use district centered on the Broad Street corridor, strengthen existing businesses and attract new businesses, and maintain and develop affordable housing,” states a synopsis.
Mutter said he’s excited about the prospects for the report because 4Ward really provided a unique perspective in interviews with the town, a perspective that could “shake you out of the norm,” he said. He said he believes the council will be very appreciative of the final result, emphasizing that he doesn’t believe this will be one of those reports one puts on the shelf and forgets about. The theme coming from conversations with 4Ward representatives is to get something done, he said and that “definitely resonated with me.”
Stevens said 4Ward scored the best of four very qualified consultants, and the company will complete a host of tasks, including identifying assets and socio-economic trends and coming up with a report. The process will also include a public meeting and focus groups for the company to get to know “the movers and shakers” in the area, he said.
The goal to include Central Falls and Pawtucket is based in the belief that Broad Street is a collection of communities with an identity for the entire corridor, said Stevens.
Councilor Lisa Beaulieu asked what officials envision as the outcome of this process 10 years from now. Stevens said that as the three communities were able to do in securing the ongoing $18.5 renovation of Broad Street, they’ll be able to leverage the information and credibility of this plan to market investment opportunities and look at rezoning that currently prohibits mixed uses in some spots, among other steps. There will be a third-party professional opinion that the Planning Board and Town Council can accept or modify, he said, and a game plan to make this area a better and safer place in which to live and do business.