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Protest outside Pawtucket City Hall tackles multiple issues



Meghan Kallman

“This is a city that does not offer up its neighbors as a sacrifice zone,” said Pawtucket City Councilor Meghan Kallman to about 75 Pawtucket residents protesting outside the Pawtucket City Hall in the freezing, windy cold Wednesday evening.

The protest outside Pawtucket City Hall, ahead of the Pawtucket City Council meeting inside, was primarily about the Fairlawn waste transfer station issue, a plan to relocate the city’s waste transfer station from Grotto Avenue to Concord Street in Fairlawn and expand the facility to up to four times its present size, but the protest was also about the new proposed PawSox Stadium and about the closing of Pawtucket Memorial Hospital.

The multiple issues all speak to Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien‘s warped priorities said one Fairlawn resident to me: The mayor is more concerned with a baseball team than with a hospital, or with a new dump that will bring rats to the west side of Pawtucket.

Most of the Pawtucket City Councilors who arrived at the City Hall quickly pushed past the the protest to get to their subcommittee meetings, but Ward 5 City Councilor Meghan Kallman spoke briefly to the crowd.

“I was proud to stand with you all when [the issue of the transfer station] came up… As you know, we passed a resolution in the council encouraging a delay on this. There’s been a study commission formed, through the Hassenfeld Institute, to look at the transfer station and to look at various other possibilities.” As a member of that study commission Kallman said that she and others “will do our best to advocate a safe and healthy resolution for Pawtucket. This is a city that does not offer up its neighbors as a sacrifice zone.”

David Norton, who recently announced his intention to run for State Senate in the special District 8 election was on hand, leading the crowd in various chants against the transfer station, against the PawSox deal, against the closing of Memorial Hospital, and against Mayor Grebien.

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“Last night’s protest was about highlighting the most concerning issues facing Pawtucket residents currently, and the inability of our city and state leaders to listen and address residents’ concerns,” said Norton. “#HospitalsBeforeStadiums and No Garbage Transfer Station were the main themes of the protest. The frustration that has boiled over into the form of protests is caused by a lack of leadership from the city administration and Pawtucket’s General Assembly Delegation with regard to Memorial Hospital, the proposed Apex Stadium and the proposed expansion and relocation of the Garbage Transfer Station.”

The protest ended as people headed inside to sign up to speak before the City Council meeting. You can watch the City Council meeting on video here.

David Norton, candidate for State Senate

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.