“This bond supports what we all love about Rhode Island—clean blue waters, green spaces, and vibrant communities,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. “It is a crucial investment to help protect our environment, support economic development, enhance recreational opportunities, and strengthen our resiliency in the face of climate change. I urge all Rhode Islanders to vote ‘Yes on 3!‘ this November.”
Raimondo was speaking before a crow of about 80 people representing business and environmental concerns under a tent outside Skyline at Waterplace overlooking the Providence River across from the Providence Place Mall downtown. She was speaking about the Green Economy and Clean Water Bond, a $47.3 million bond on November’s ballot that, if approved by voters, would support a state-wide investment in clean water, land cleanup, farmland, recreational facilities, bike trails, open spaces and public safety.
Raimondo was not able to speak at the event without being reminded of her support for Invenergy’s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant, aimed at the pristine forests of Burrillville as activists representing the FANG Collective and BASE (Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion) held a banner that said, “NO NEW POWER PLANT.” After the event Kathy Martley of BASE (pictured below, seated) hand delivered a letter to the Governor.
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The event was to take place in the basin amphitheater inside Waterplace Park, but the remnants of Hurricane Michael provided heavy morning rainfall and lying areas of the park were flooded by the Providence River. Save The Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone, serving as emcee at the rally, pointed out the relevance of the bond’s $5 million investment in flood protections and coastal resiliency in light of the risks Rhode Island faces from climate change and increasingly severe storms.
“The $7.9 million in funding provided by this bond to the Infrastructure Bank is required to unlock $40 million in federal funds and allows us to raise between $200 million and $300 million of private sector capital to invest in critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure,” said Jeffrey Diehl, of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. “This funding supports projects both small and large, such as large resiliency improvements at wastewater treatment facilities and critical drinking water upgrades at small, community water systems.”
The bond would provide $5 million to create new and improve existing community parks and recreation facilities. “Many of our kids rely on our public parks as their backyards, and in Providence, we have made it a goal to have a high quality, beautiful park within a 10-minute walk of every resident in the city of Providence,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza, who rides his bicycle to work almost daily.
Studies show that access to green spaces improves health, promotes stronger social ties, and enhances neighborhood satisfaction and pride.
“We are delighted to stand with all of the other stakeholders here. This bond is the future of our state. It’s about quality of life, it’s about the environment, and it has so many benefits for every community across the state,” said Barnaby Evans, executive artistic director of Waterfire.
Nearly 30 years ago, the City of Providence and many partners took the bold step of uncovering the rivers that flowed through the city, leading to a revival downtown. Waterfire was a major catalyst for this revival, bringing people to the waterfront from all over the country. The bond includes $7 million for dredging sections of the Providence, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers in the vicinity of downtown Providence and Waterplace Park to support economic development, enhance tourism, and improve water depths for boating, recreation and climate resilience.
“Starting in the 1980s, Rhode Island lost most of its farmland to industrial and residential development. The state developed the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission and has been able to protect over 100 farms and over 7,000 acres of prime agricultural land in the state. Our existing farmland and open space are tributes to Rhode Island voters, who have overwhelmingly supported the state’s green economy bonds in past years,” said Diane Lynch, of the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission. “Investing in our open farmland also supports environmental sustainability, it supports our food security, it supports our very important and robust tourism industry, and of course, it supports the quality of life and culture of our communities.”
“Rhode Island has thousands of brownfields, many in desirable commercial and industrial spaces. These brownfields funds are critical to opening up valuable industrial space, cleaning up contamination, attracting jobs and promoting public health. Business and neighborhoods across the state can benefit from this continued investment in clean, safe land,” said Diana Campbell, executive director of Mosaico Business and Community Development Corporation, recalling the specific effects of brownfield remediation in Bristol. “This bond can truly transform poor communities; it can transform your community. When the voters vote yes on this bond, they are voting yes for themselves,” she said.
Also speaking was Bari Freeman, executive director of Bike Newport.
“By voting yes on three, you are voting for investing in so many things that Rhode Island should take pride in. We have had incredible success protecting and improving Rhode Island’s natural resources, and at the same time strengthening our economy and enhancing the quality of life for everyone,” said Jonathan Stone. “So this is our moment to make an incredible difference for Rhode Island’s environment, recreation, and quality of life.”
Yes on 3 partners and supporters include: Audubon Society of Rhode Island; Aquidneck Land Trust; Bike Newport; Blackstone Valley Tourism Council; the City of Providence; the 60 organizations of the Environment Council of Rhode Island; Greater Providence & Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau; Grow Smart Rhode Island; Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce; Paths to Progress; Providence Foundation; Providence Journal; Rhode Island Builders Association; Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council; Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Rhode Island Land Trust Council; Rhode Island School of Design; Save The Bay; The Nature Conservancy Rhode Island; and Waterfire.
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