Developer Offers Land to Commercial Plan Abutters

The people of Save Cranston’s Open Space have hired a lawyer, and sent out a press release to let everyone know what the potential developer of Mulligan’s Island has been up to. From the press release:

CRANSTON, R.I., July 12 – Save Cranston’s Open Space has hired William R. Landry of Blish & Cavanagh to represent neighbors opposed to the commercial development of the 55-acre Mulligan’s Island golf complex and sale of a city-owned ball field to make way for a four-lane entrance to the proposed big-box development. Landry, an experienced trial lawyer and partner in the firm, has extensive experience in litigation and arbitration of residential and commercial land-use disputes.

Among the latest developments in the Mulligan’s Island dispute was distribution of a section of a modified “Centre at Garden Hills� proposal to abutters by Greg O’Brien, the public relations representative of developer Churchill & Banks. The new proposal is expected to be presented at the Tuesday, Aug. 7, Planning Commission meeting.

“The new Churchill & Banks proposal entirely misses the point of our objections – as would any proposal for development of the Mulligan’s Island land,� according to Rachel McNally, one of the organizers of Save Cranston’s Open Space. “We appreciate the fact that Cranston needs more economic development, but there are other areas already zoned commercial where that should take place. Cranston also needs more open space – not less.�

O’Brien began distribution of part of the new Churchill & Banks conceptual plan with visits to the abutting Oak Hill Terrace neighborhood on Saturday, July 7, offering a plan with a 50-foot extension to the back yards of 10 properties on Hilltop Drive and to 11 properties along Beeckman Ave. To date, abutters along Laura Circle have not been offered property extensions. Abutters to the city-owned ball field and wooded property, including six on Hilltop Drive, have not been offered the 50-foot property extensions. Just beyond the abutting backyards, the plans show approximately 19-acres of “open space� – largely along the Beeckman Avenue neighborhood. They also show very narrow bands of open space between some Hilltop Drive and Laura Circle homes and the proposed retail development.

The new proposal includes a 119,598 square-foot space expected to be a BJ’s Wholesale Club with a 12-pump gas station and a 60,000 square-foot space that O’Brien told at least four neighbors would be a Raymour & Flanigan furniture store. It also includes one unnamed 16,650 square-foot retail store, two restaurants and parking for over 1,100 cars. After paving the current ball field to make way for a four-lane entrance from New London Avenue at the intersection of Hilltop Drive, the new proposal calls for developing two ball fields for the city.

After distribution of the developer’s plan, an initial Save Cranston’s Open Space poll showed 10 out of 10 Hilltop Drive abutters who were offered back yard extensions still firmly oppose the commercial development of Mulligan’s Island. The organization has begun polling abutters offered the 50-foot extensions on Beeckman as well as abutters on Laura Circle. Results so far show unanimous opposition among several already reached.

“The 50-foot extension to abutters’ backyards is nothing but a transfer of 50 feet of property from the ‘open space’ area to the tax bills of the residents,� McNally said. “A high and wide berm with trees and shrubs would still be needed to buffer the neighborhood from the retail development.

“The new proposal also does not solve the problem of increased traffic throughout the area, which affects the entire Garden Hills area, including Oaklawn Ave., as well as directly abutting neighborhoods. It doesn’t address the problems of safety, noise, lights or runoff. In fact, it exacerbates the safety problem by putting the two proposed ball fields where our children will be playing along the proposed four-lane entrance where cars will be entering and exiting and where 18-wheelers will be making deliveries,� she said.

“As for the approximately 19 acres of ‘open space,’ we do not know that this would be deeded to the city and that it would be permanently zoned ‘open space.’ In fact, we understand that the developer wants to keep the Mixed Plan District designation that was granted solely for Mulligan’s Island, but have it modified to allow their heavy commercial use on part of the property. That is totally inconsistent with the intent of the original MPD designation and sets a precedent that would endanger the remaining ‘open’ MPD space in the future.�

The August 7th planning meeting to be held at Cranston East High School promises to be a fiesty one. Churchill & Banks will be presenting their plan for the “Centre at Garden Hills” and the opposition will be there to ask questions and raise the safety and environmental concerns cited above.

Councilwoman Paula McFarland had said in a previous thread that another development proposal (Atwood Village) was not feasible partially because of the existence of a city-owned ball field on the site. Her words were: “It was not the relocation of the ball field that led to the area not being able to be used for development, but the use of federal funds to support and sustain the creation of the recreation facility years ago. In other words, because federal funds were used to build the ball field, it can’t be demolished It sounds like Churchill & Banks believe that if the plan includes the building of a new ball space (or two of them), then it’s okay to demolish the old one. Perhaps they have won this battle elsewhere.

I don’t live close to this, so it’s hard for me to imagine what it must feel like to know that a huge retail development might be going in right nearby. I imagine it must be quite frightening, especially when the proposal includes a 12-pump gas station (all that gas, stored right nearby, though in my own neighborhood there is a gas station only two-and-a-half blocks away) and provisions for tons of parking spaces. A 19-acre buffer sounds significant, but it doesn’t appear that all homes would enjoy that large of a buffer.

As Councilwoman McFarland has indicated in previous comments, the city is in need of recreational space. She believes, as do many residents and leaders of the city, that our commercial development needs to be contained in the areas already commercialized, such as Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston Street, and Chapel View.

109 thoughts on “Developer Offers Land to Commercial Plan Abutters

  1. Kiersten:

    Councilwoman McFarland’s 1st quote that you cite actually referred to the ‘Atwood Village’ concept proposed by Council President Garabedian, not the Mulligan’s Island proposal by C&B.

    …Just offering this for clarification.

  2. Thanks, Jesse. I did say that it was in reference to another development proposal and I added “Atwood Village” in parentheses.

  3. KM:

    Oops, looked like I read that too fast. Apologies.

    While I have your attention, though, I’d like to ask you about previous use of quotation marks around my name when referencing statements I’ve made. One example is the open space thread you refer to in this post.

    If it’s not too much trouble, I’d prefer an e-mail over a ‘public’ explanation. Thanks.

  4. Kiersten: thanks for this post. I drive by Mulligans everyday to go to work. What a travesty it would be to put a big box there! It is crazy enough as it is.

  5. C&B has asked for ANOTHER continuance and did not submit the plans shown to neighbors to the Planning Department and will not be presenting at the August 7 meeting. If another set of revised plans is submitted to the Planning Department by mid-August than they will be heard at the September 11 Planning Commission Meeting.

    The date on the second set of plans shown to neighbors was May 31 and the first plans weren’t withdrawn until June 1. We are sure that there are more versions of the plans already drawn, but we will not accept commercial development on that property, destruction of the city-owned ballfield or any “promises” C&B makes to the neighbors or city.

    The City of Warwick was just able to secure the funds to buy Rocky Point and preserve the open space there for all residents of RI to enjoy. What a wonderful example they have set for Cranston and the other cities and towns in RI!

  6. And so the games begin. Get use to this Rachel et al. The question is, who is approving these continuances. One can ask, but doesn’t necessarily need to be granted one. Kind of like the phrase political correctness.

    “Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”
    Author Unknown

  7. Yes, I saw the news about Rocky Point and was happy to hear that the city will be able to make that a place for everyone.

  8. Tom, I think you have had an unusually awful situation to deal with in the Domestic Bank problems, but it would seem that in terms of the movement to preserve open space, anytime the developer is sent back to the drawing board, this is a win for the open-spacers. They’ll have to keep going back and going back until the proposal is shaved down to a Del’s Lemonade and then maybe the community will say okay.

  9. I was told that if the proposal isn’t submitted in time for the September meeting than they would need to start the process all over again. I’m not really sure what that means though, but will be sure to find out this week.

    Also, the Mayor visited homes with a TV crew late this afternoon, but I have not heard yet where he went, concerning the development of Mulligan’s. There is no proposal on file with the city at this time, so it will be interesting to hear what he had to say to residents.

  10. Kiersten,

    The developer wasn’t sent back to the drawing board. It decided not to go to the drawing board (at least that ‘s how I read it, could be wrong). I believe that’s the second time in as many months.

    C & B asked for a continuance and was apparently given one by the committee/administration. As an example, Domestic Bank submitted a construction plan to the Planning Committee in February of 2006. Neighbors attended, and a deal was hammered out. Then they decided not to act on it. They brought another plan to the table a year later. The neighbors all turned out again and a deal was agreed to. Then they started filing for variances and continuances. Neighbors again turned out. In all, there were 6 or 7 meetings. Domestic ended up getting some requests approved.

    Business drags things out so that those affected need to keep coming to meetings. That way, numbers at those meetings or should I say hearings dwindle because people will have scheduling conflicts or become disenchanted and don’t cme at all. Over time they begin to feel like they can’t win. Business will also keep changing needless covenants to agreements in order to drag things out. It’s a sound strategy.

    I was pointing out to Rachel that this is a typical ploy, and all should be prepared to deal with meetings, continuances and more meetings. One needs to be a pit bull and needs to get their story/plight out to the entire city. That is why the “Neighbors of Forest Hills” have sent frequent letters to the editor and an insert going in tomorrow’s Herald. They all have placed signs in their yards throughout the entire area. To ensure all homeowners in the city are informed, get involved and attend these hearings/meetings. The masses will get angry because of all the meetings rescheduled or continued. Then they go en masse to the politicians and ask why they allow it all to go on and on. I mean, just look at all of what’s happening with commercial encroachment in our city. Every problem our neighbors are dealing with get dragged out. Needlessly dragged out.

    The council and the administration could make our lives a lot easier if they remembered why they were elected to office. Wait awhile and try to sell your homes. It’s too bad we need to handle these issues ourselves. Wouldn’t it be a better place if our elected officials just said no! My constituents don’t want that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And when they don’t which is a common theme in this city, we all must unite. Caveat Emptore.

  11. Thanks, Tom. I wasn’t fully appreciating of the “Meeting Fatigue” strategy of some businesses. I have attended several meetings for the concrete plant, and back before I had my second daughter I was making it to council meetings a few times semi-regularly. It would be very hard to keep going to meetings if matters were being endlessly postponed. Plus many people (like me) work evenings.

  12. I want to thank you Lori for sharing the definition of Integrity. THAT IS WHAT I LOOK FOR WHEN I VOTE IN NATIONAL, STATE, AND LOCAL ELECTIONS. I can’t stand elected official’s that promise one thing and then do the opposite. I also respect them when they underestand the meaning’s of community and quality of Life. I am also grateful to K Mareka for opening this great site.

  13. The headline on the Parks & Rec page that Lori provided the link for:


  14. The history of the sale of Rocky Point is that back in 2001 the Rhode Island Small Business Associate purchased the land, the sought developers who would build on it. Only after several failed bids and fires to abandoned buildings did the SBA consider selling it.

    And Tom C.: Looks to me like the parking lot behind Domestic is paved. You should soon see fewer cars on the neighborhood’s streets. Also, ‘Caveat Emptore’ means ‘Let the buyer beware.’ Seems odd to me that you’d choose this as a tagline, since you purchased a home in that neighborhood. I wonder, would you say the same thing to people who own homes near TF Green and then complain about the noise?

  15. Hi Everyone:
    My family and I live at 66 Eilein Ave. Beeckman Ave is just above our home. We have lived in our home since July of 1972. We love our home and we are happy to have many friends in this great city, We do not have any plans top leave Cranston. There has been great concern and a tremendous amount of activity in our neighborhoods with regard to the unsettling proposals made by CB. I and my family are very grateful to the Oak Hill Terrace neighborhood for their honesty, energy and for their organized leadership. They have continued to lead the fight to protect the quality of life for all Cranston taxpayers by leading the fight to protect open space in our city. I will have many things to say going forward. People in the present administration will not want to hear them ,but as a regested voter in the City of Cranston I will be getting back to all of you soon.
    May God bless our brave men and women that protect our freedom and may God bless America.

  16. Jesse,

    If you want to converse or debate I would be happy to. However, please provide your full name. I’d prefer to know with whom I speak with.

  17. Tom, You raise an important issue about conversations on blogs. As you probably know, some politicians and organizations can be merciless in punishing those who speak out. However, others would contend that without putting a real identity to your words, your authority is severely weakened. Also, when you are trying to talk about problems on such a local level as Cranston city government, it feels strange to have people’s identities being shrouded.

    So I share your wish to know Jesse’s identity, and think any conversation is better if people are speaking with their real names, but I also respect the right of people to maintain anonymity.

  18. agreed, and if Jesse prefers his anonymity.. well all I can do is refer him to my post of 6/25/07 at 9:46 am on the “why is open space important” commentary.

  19. Hi Norman, your kind words spoken of Oak Hill Terrace are greatly appreciated. It truly is a great neighborhood, just like so many others in Cranston. Protecting all of the neighborhoods in Cranston should be our elected officials first priority. Without the residents who live in these neighborhoods, where would most of the businesses be?

    SAVE CRANSTON’S OPEN SPACE was formed with more than Oak Hill Terrace in mind. Way too many residents will be affected by the C&B proposal. Even if you live on the Western side of the city, Oaklawn Ave and New London Ave are roads you probable travel often.

    Spreading the word that this is NOT just about abutting residents is very important! Oaklawn Ave is the hub of Cranston. The small businesses that we all frequent and love will be affected if a BIG BOX COMPLEX is allowed to be built at Mulligans. The traffic that already backs up on Rt. 37 between 4pm and 5pm will become even worse, and that will affect not only the Eastern side of Cranston but also the Western side.

    I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  20. Hi Lori and Rachael:
    It looks like it is going to be another beautiful summer day. I hope that you get to enjoy it with your families.
    I want to thank both of you for your kind words and for all your support. It helps to make living in this great city more of a joy then a challenge. Even though we know that we and our quality of life is going to be tested from time to time. The vigilance of our communities is so important to our quality of life. As leaders in our communities both of you are are to be respected and supported in all your efforts on behalf of so many families in our community. Lori, I want to thank you again for your honesty and candidness with regard to small businesses inthe city of Cranston. I had the distinct pleasure to coach and help raise money to support sports programs in the CLCF Organization for many years. It was a wonderful time in my life. Many times through those years, while contacting sponsors for the CLCF programs, I would have the pleasure to speak to Joe McConaghy at Oaklawn Mobil. Joe and his family would never hesitate to support the programs that have built the confidences of so many girls and boys that participated in the wonderful programs offered by CLCF.
    In closing, I know that Councilmen Jeffrey Barone told you Lori that the city cannot just go out and buy land.
    However, let us present them with the challenge to provide recreation for the future of all Cranston families especially our children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.Best regards to everyone, and God bless our men and women that protect our freedom.

  21. Norm,
    When I stopped by your lovely home the other night I realized just how devastating the proposed Centre at Garden Hills development would be for your neighborhood.
    Blais, Eileen, and Beeckman would face the same unthinkable fate as Laura Circle and Hilltop if this project ever sees the light of day. I agree with you that the elected officials that don’t “hear” us now, will certainly be hearing us quite clearly come Nov. of 08. While the second “almost, maybe next time” proposal from Churchill & Banks will not be up for discussion at the Aug.7th Planning Board meeting at East, a related topic is on the agenda. Councilperson Lupino’s Informed Growth Provision is scheduled to be discussed. In theory this proposed ordinance would add additional safeguards for neighborhoods that face the grim prospect of having a big box anchored development as their new neighbor. More research and more studies at the developers expense would be necessary before any of these proposals could move forward. The Chamber of Commerce’s initial response was a negative one, claiming that the city needed to remain “business friendly”. I am sure that small business owners through out the city
    would strongly disagree with the Chamber’s opinion.
    While the Informed Growth Provision is not a panacea for
    the city’s tax revenue v. quality of life dilemma, it is a step in the right direction. My wife Donna and I would like to thank you for your kind words for our service men and women stationed overseas. My brother-in-law has 50 days remaining on his tour of duty in Iraq. Hopefully he will return home to his wife and children and resume his job teaching high school biology in upstate NY.He is a good man. My own views on the war will not matter for another 50 days…

  22. I agree that it is very difficult to converse with fellow bloggers when you do not know their identities, it always makes me wonder who the others truly are or of their agenda.

    I also agree with Norm that the City needs to be looking ahead to future generations and the repercussions that today’s decisions will have on future Cranstonians.

  23. Norman and Richard,

    You are not able to view your comments on this thread? I am showing 25 comments on my page for this thread and both writers’ comments are viewable by me. They were also viewable by Rachel as evidenced by her response to Norm. Hmm. I think the problem might be on your end, but I would not know how to solve it. There are many glitches in web presentation that have yet to be ironed out. If it persists, I would suggest reporting it to your internet service provider.

    In any case, your comments have not been lost and if they do not reappear by the end of the day, I will email them to you and you can put them on the other thread.

  24. Tom C.:

    I will continue to post my name as is. It is not against the stated policy of the blog, nor does it seem to offend Kiersten, who states above that she respects my right to remain anonymous. I’ve been posting here for nearly a year, and only now is this question coming up — and not because I’ve been proven wrong, I’d remind you.

    With all respect to this blog, it’s not a newspaper. Professional journalism standards do not apply, although I use my own standards of accuracy in offering my statements — for example, that parking lot IS paved, is it not?

    …And is this the comment you’re referring to?
    June 25th, 2007 at 9:46 am
    Jesse, I’ll take the long view when Garbedian get’s his buddy, the bank’s owner, to take his hand out of my pocket and that my neighbors. It’s been in there for 25 years. How long of a view do you suppose we take? Domestic Bank has not been forth right in stating how many employees they have, and I’m afraid you sound as if you have bought Garabedian and Baker’s drivel. The lot will hold 50 cars, They have over 200 employees. Perhaps you should invite those that won’t fit in the lot to park in your neighborhood. As far as scapegoats, come talk to the residents of Forst Hills and ask who are the scapegoats. Caveat Emptor

    It would appear, when comparing our repsective replies, that wishing your neighborhood’s problem on me and inventing conspiracy theories is far less constructive than me asking you why you choose ‘Caveat Emptor’ for a tagline. Especially when you leave the statement ‘when Garbedian get’s his buddy, the bank’s owner, to take his hand out of my pocket and that my neighbors (sic)’ hanging without any explanation. Do you mean that Domestic’s owner has been robbing houses in that neighborhood? Or are the neighbors directly paying for the paving he’s doing on his property?

    And isn’t it curious that, less than a month after your reply, the lot is paved and only awaiting the removal of construction cones to allow parking — as if I knew it was about to happen (and, by extension, that you didn’t)?

    I think that’s the real issue here, Tom: I’m seeking out the truth and putting you on the spot to explain yourself while you’re venting anger and spreading rumors. How I identify myself should not raise any doubts, real or imagined, about my words.

    Also, your refusal to reply to simple questions by imposing demands on me is rhetorically weak. But I won’t miss your replies if you refuse to provide them.

    One final thought: If you wish to ask direct, pointed questions about who I am, I will answer them truthfully. If you decide not to believe my answers, that’s your prerogative. But for now, know that I am not employed by the City of Cranston, Warwick Mall, or Bliss Properties. I am not in any city union. I am a homeowner in Ward 3, a taxpayer and a regular voter.

  25. Well Jesse, that’s great. I’m happy to hear you’re a voter and homeowner. I live at 24 Richland Rd. Stop by and we’ll talk and get to know each other. Otherwise, I’m not interested in debating an unknown.

  26. I’ll just add, for those who like to solve mysteries, that Jesse from Cranston has stated in prior comments that he was hoping to get a job as a teacher in Cranston. And one further note, from a post on rifuture from long ago, where I believe Jesse from Cranston said that he had previously lived somewhere in South County, though I can’t remember where.

    Please let me know if these details are incorrect, Jesse.

  27. Lori, you said it all when you asked the question, “Why is the developer allowed to continue to propose plan after plan that will disgrace our integrity and put our safety and quality of life at risk?� Its ridiculous, plain and simple. The city essentially made a deal with Cranston residents about the use of that land when they allowed Mulligans.

    I know I wouldn’t have bought my house if I knew that it was even a possiblity that they would commercially develop it. So I think Tom’s use of the phrase buyer beware is appropriate.

    And to Jesse from Cranston, I don’t know much about the Domestic Bank situation, but I imagine that if I couldn’t park in front of my house, I’d be pretty ripped. From what I’ve read, the parking situation has been going on for years, so hearing that the lot was just paved now seems kind of late to me.

    Comparing not being able to park in front of your house because the city allowed such a poorly planned commercial entity to take over a neighborhood and the airport is unreasonable. Airports are inherently noisy, however banks don’t normally take over neighborhoods. Both because the city shouldn’t allow it and the bank shouldn’t want it to happen because its simply bad for business.

  28. I grew up in Cranston at 132 Davis Ave. For those of you not familiar with Davis Ave- the house I grew up in is often shown with the front yard under water. I guess my near drowning in the river beside my house in 1968 was one of the factors that caused the river sewers to be built. (is this the only way to get improvements) Growing up in Cranston was a wonderful experience. In fact there is a memorial in front of Waterman dedicated to my mother and her dedicated work with the school. As a Cranston youth, how can you not participate in CLCF, and all the activities Cranston has to offer. Who can remember getting pool tags in school for 0.10 each. Back then you could get 5 per family. It was an extra 10 cents to lock your bike in the “secure” area for the day. Free swimming lessons. Last time I checked to get in was $25 for a family.

    I recently had the opportunity to spend a Saturday night with a few teenagers from all over the state. They could not believe my offer to go play mini-golf at Mulligans. Like true Rhode Islanders- the trip from Smithfield was to far to go- Mulligans’ was only a legend to them. I have seen the loss of Lou’s Pitch and Putt, and now the final piece of Fiddlesticks had been bulldozed under in the name of progress. (I want to correct a mistake in an earlier comment made by someone else. Home depot was built across from Fiddelsticks, it was bulldozed for Super Stop and Shop, and stores to yet be named.) Where can a family go for recreational fun- no where in Cranston if we lose Mulligans. Can’t go to Saint Mary’s Feast with young kids, it is a great place for the teens to hang out, but not suited for families.

    Over the past few years, as I become more active in school committee meetings (lost Horton to budget issues) and the circus called “City Council” I am appalled by the way citizen’s of Cranston re-elect the city officials.

    The citizen’s of Cranston should be encouraged/required to watch City Council meetings. A past letter in the herald titled “Professionalism 101” explains most of the problems. Keep in mind- you the citizen’s of Cranston put these people there. I won’t mention names, but Mulligans is in this person’s ward. But so far this year, it seems like I have been at more city council meetings, and stayed later than your councilwoman/man. Does anyone care how often their councilwoman/man is “absent”. You will when your neighborhood is lost or over run in the name of business.

    Jesse- you are quick to notice that the “lot” is paved. Did you also notice that it took several e-mails and persistence from residents and council members to have the “fence” installed per plan. We are also trying to get the lines painted in the lot that match the agreed p upon plan. These deviations from the plan and agreed upon resolutions are standard practice for Domestic Bank. The fact that our City Council let this go on as long as it did, shows that the we do not have all the right people in there. There are 3-4 puppets controlled by city council president, and the rest are independent thinkers. Unfortunately- the vote always goes the way city council president wants it to go. Reference the same edition of the Herald- letter titled “Kingdom of Garabedian”.
    Recent article in Herald indicated “Cranston” was a pretty unique name for a town. Let’s not let it officially become the “Kingdom of Garabedian”. We also can not let Route 2 in Cranston end up like Route 2 in Warwick.

  29. Domestic bank update— The city stayed the cease and desist order yesterday. Essentially the lot is complete with one caveat. The lot was supposed to have 54 spaces. It has only 48. 11% fewer spaces than agreed upon. Of those 48, two are handicapped. Does the bank have two handicapped employees? Over 200 employees and 48 spaces, well, 46 spaces.

    The actions of the city and it’s administration demonstrate that after all, it wasn’t about parking and getting cars off our streets. I’m not sure what the motivation was, but one thing is for sure; Their actions are anti-resident !

    Think about it. Complaints filed for violating city code with respect to the condition of the dirt hole over the past several years and not followed up on. The bank twice violating the cease and desist order as well as once violating the parking ban due to snow. Not followed up on. Now this. What’s the message? Guess we’re not important or we’re just considered trouble makers and are not to be listened to or helped. Only because we’re trying to protect the quality of our lives, the character of or neighborhoods and our property values. What an outrage. Caveat Emptor

    See you Thursday night at the special ordinance committee at 6:00.

  30. Just one point of clarification on Ed’s excellent comment – Mulligan’s is in Ward 6, which is represented by Jeff Barone. I don’t mind naming names…I think Ed was thinking of the Ward 4 Councilwoman, Maria Bucci, who over the last two-plus years has managed to miss nearly half(!) the votes cast by the Council and its committees. How many of us would be fired if we took every other day off from work? It boggles the mind that she was re-elected.

  31. This is the editorial Ed references. Hard to believe it was written as a result of the goings on of a city council meeting last February.
    Editorial: Professionalism 101 (a refresher course)
    Written by HERALD
    Wed, Feb 28 07
    The City Council isn’t doing itself any favors at the moment.

    Everyone who attended the council meeting Monday night (with the possible exception of the Domestic Bank representatives) left feeling flabbergasted, dismayed and probably more than a little put out. There was a lot of grandstanding, excessive volume and surprisingly little accomplished.

    It’s possible that the Cranston council members, many with long records of services, have unexpectedly forgotten what it is to be an elected official. So here’s a refresher course:

    Lesson 1: If something is printed as part of the agenda, you have to let the public comment on it. You can’t just tell them to come back later because you feel the debate has gone on long enough. This isn’t a question of politeness, it’s a question of law.

    Lesson 2: Making a big speech about how you’re not going to put up with any delays and stalling tactics is not a bad idea, but you actually have to follow it up with specific action. Turning around a few minutes later and voting to delay a decision – essentially endorsing another stall – will not win you any points with the voters and smacks of hypocrisy.

    Lesson 3: A swamp is a swamp. You can’t take the water out of it any more than you can remove the air. And lest DEM feel compelled to remind you, we’ll point out that draining and backfilling a wetlands in order to force it to “perc� is in violation of about a dozen environmental statutes. It’s bad luck that the old police station was built on an unstable site; let’s not make it worse by inviting a bevy of federal lawsuits.

    Lesson 4: Pettiness does not become a city official. Holding an appointed board member’s attendance at an unrelated political debate against him – and subsequently denying his reappointment – is juvenile at best. If the person in question is incompetent (and that’s an if we didn’t hear addressed), make that the focus of discussion. Bringing up his personal political history is tacky and unprofessional.

    The council got its wish when the voters elected a mayor that the councilors felt they could actually work with. After four years of putting on an unnaturally serious and hyper-responsible face in order to contrast with the former mayor’s hair-trigger personality, it’s understandable that the council would take advantage of that chance to relax. But in the last two months, it has taken things too far.

    The council must rein itself in and restore an aura of professionalism or the voters will decide the Democrats can’t run the city and take matters into their own hands.

  32. (Several responses for the price of one…)


    I am no longer seeking employment in Cranston schools. I am not a teacher in the city. As for South County, I have worked in Chariho in the past and have family living there. Good investigative work, though.


    Prior to this year’s developments to create new parking at Domestic, yes, there was a long running issue. There was also a house where the new lot is now. My feeling is that the feud-like nature of this situation only contributed to the belated resolution. Still, something is getting done, however much Mr. Cloonen wants to quibble over details. And no, I would not like it if I couldn’t park in front of my house — but I have a driveway (as, I believe, he does). If business parking became an issue, I would like to think that I could work with the local officials to find a resolution, however long it may take and however much I may have to compromise. As long as I wasn’t getting cars parked on my lawn, I guess I’d have to be patient.


    I was unaware of the variations you mention, although for the purpose of getting the lot opened, they don’t seem like deal-breakers. I also take exeception to your characterization of the city council. The fact that Mr. Garabedian ran with Councilmen Lanni and Lupino on the citywide ticket, and that all three won, does not make them “puppets.” As for Route 2, I point to Mr. Garabedian’s work to stop Pep Boys and Home Depot from moving in near Garden City and his insistence that Carpionato protect trees on the new development as two examples that he does not plan to allow that area to “end up like Route 2 in Warwick.”

    “Tom Cloonen”:

    All I’m asking is that you stop the conspiracy theories and unjustified demands. You respond with more. How this is supposed to get anything done is beyond me. Also, that entire lot around Domestic is going to be reconfigured, so that additional regular and handicapped spaces will be opened up and a new drive-through path will be created. I have seen the plans, and I get the sense that you either haven’t, or haven’t cared to.

    …oh, and do you know who “gdma” is? s/he posted on the previous Open Space thread and you didn’t insist s/he identify him/herself.

    And to Mr. Lucas:

    Your attack line against Mrs. Bucci didn’t work last November; why do you feel it necessary to rehash it here? Mrs. Bucci also answered that particular allegation, which you are oversimplifying, to put it generously: the majority of those votes were to accept prior meetings’ minutes, approve communications, etc. — in other words, ceremonial votes. This is not the same as “taking every other day off from work.” She won because this attack line, which Mr. Saccoccio issued as part of the local Republican “strategy” fear-and-smear, didn’t work. It doesn’t boggle my mind.

    I also recall that Emilio Navarro defeated you 68-to-32% in Ward 2 last year, and that Cindy Fogarty defeated you 62-38 in 2004 (I got the specific numbers from the RI Elections site). So your (and your party’s) failed track record seem to have much more to do with your statement than substantive debate or trying to answer Ed’s question. Finally, by your reckoning, you’ve missed 100 percent of Council votes since you ran in 2004, so I again find your claim questionable.

  33. “Jesse from Cranston” says:

    “One final thought: If you wish to ask direct, pointed questions about who I am, I will answer them truthfully.”

    Here’s a question for you, Jesse: Have you ever worked and/or volunteered for a political campaign for Aram Garabedian, and if so, what was your function?

  34. Mark Lucas:

    I did opposition research (for instance, the potential Republican attack lines and ways to respond to them) and assisted with campaign literature in support of the Democratic candidates for City Council last November.

    I’d also remind you that those campaigns were successful, based, as they were, on allaying peoples’ fears and providing them with facts. Your Republican colleagues set no such standards for themselves and lost as a result.

    Now, I’ve replied to you. Care to address the issues I raised previously?

  35. Jesse,

    I had not refreshed my browser prior to you posting your comment, otherwise I would have responded within my previous comment.

    I stand by my assertion that Ms. Bucci missed nearly 50% of the votes she could/should have cast. If you wish to claim they were mostly ceremonial and therefore somehow not worthy of Ms. Bucci’s time, then that is your choice. However, that trivializes the rest of the Council who do a better job of representing their constituents by voting on agenda items both large and small.

    I do not speak for the Cranston Republican party nor do I speak for Mr. Saccoccio, but an awful lot of what was predicted: higher taxes, increased spending, designs on the rainy day fund, generous labor union contracts, etc. has become reality.

    As far as losing two elections for the Ward 2 Council seat, well, I stand guilty as charged. At the very least, I stepped up and ran for office based on my own beliefs and I am proud that I became involved in the political process using my real name. You should try it sometime.

  36. Mr. Lucas:

    Thanks for replying. You can blame higher taxes on the $6.5 million hole in the budget that Steve Laffey left us. As for the firefighter’s contract (which Mr. Garabedian voted against), I think it’s better to have a contract than costly arbitration, which certainly would have hurt the city worse and potentially resulted in another supplemental tax hike, the trademark of the Laffey administration. And in reviewing the city budget, I don’t see a reference anywhere of any money being transferred from the surplus, or received in another account from that surplus.

    To all:

    It seems that anonimity has become quite the issue on this thread. I’m flattered that it would be because of little old me, but maybe it’s time that Mr. Cloonen, the one who seems to be pursuing this issue the most fervently, answers for the anonymous letter that was circulated with a recent Cranston Herald, echoing many of the very same comments he’s made here and elsewhere (including that “Domestic Bank has taken over our neighborhood” and that “our Council President” has colluded with Domestic ownership to allow this to happen), but signed “Neighbors of Forest Hills.” Maybe Mr. Lucas would like to lecture Mr. Cloonen the way he’s lectured me about being “involved in the political process using (one’s) real name.”

    And I wish to correct a previous statement I made: There was not one house on the site of the new parking lot at Domestic. There were 3. The building’s owner paid $900,000 to buy that property and is paying out of his own pocket to pave it.

  37. Jesse, first I must apogize to all the homeowners that are dseparately trying to do the right thing for their neighborhoods. This blog is about that and and all the issues regarding commercial encroachment. Not your drivel or attacks. So with that, you did draw me into a debate with someone that has an opinion, right or wrong, but doesn’t have the stones to put forth their opinion with a name. Why. I have no idea. Having said that, my invitation still stands. Come to my home and we can talk. I’ll even introduce you to a few dozen neighbors who can help you determine fact from fiction. Frankly, it’s been my experience that those who are afraid to put their name with their opinion is inconsequential.

  38. Councilman Lupino is not one of the “puppets” I am referring to. He has asked repeatedly since January or February for Domestic Bank to come up with a written plan stating what arrangements will be made for the balance of the cars. As far as I know they have yet to respond to this request. I am not sure after some heated City Council meetings it will be the sme three on the campaign poster.

    Per the agreement- there will be one car per house. My house is one back from a corner, which means the side of my neighbors house faces the same as my front. I guess there is no limit to how may cars on a side of a house, so there were 3 in front of mine today, and one more in front of the corner house. I guess if you go by property lines, one in front of mine, and 3 in front of his. We have heard that they are 11% off in counting parking spaces. Let’s do the new math= 1 car per house, and there are 3. Is that a 66% error or a 300% error.
    I guess we all are entitled to a mistake once in a while, I have taken a refresher course in ward map reading

    RI gains much revenue from Tourism. What will Cranston have to offer tourists once Mulligan’s is gone? Shopping? You can get more stores in one spot at Providence place, Warwick Mall, or just over the boarder in Wrentham. Now that the “infamous dust bowl” has been paved won’t get to many tourists coming to see that.

    Why teardown a recreational facility like Mulligans to add more stores or “boxes” as I have seen them referred as? BJ’s isn’t there one 20 minutes either North or South from Mulligan’s.

    As for Mr. Garabedian’s efforts to stop Pep Boys and Home Depot, what a joke. He was in the position to do what we want. They were going into his neighborhood, he doesn’t want the Average American that does his own auto work and home repairs coming to his part of town, keep the rif raf out of there, let them go to Warwick or Johnston. Seems a little selfish to me, but I guess in the kingdom of Garabedian- when the king speaks the serfs must listen and obey.
    Jesse-since you seem to know how to dig into election results. How many people voted straight democrat vs. picking candidates? The message was sent to George Bush about opinions on Iraq, but how did that help at the city level? Can you get those numbers? How is that how so many were re-elected?

  39. Wow, I’ve been part of a few stone-throwing sessions here, but this one is really going to town.

    One the one hand, I have been posting here anonymously pretty much since the site opened; I don’t reveal my identity which revolve around possible repurcussions at work, so I have to respect Jesse’s reasons for choosing to remain anonymous, too. I would ask the rest of you not to dismiss him simply because he does not give his name.

    However, I also asked him if he were on Garabedian’s payroll and was accused of being flippant. However, the opposition research would explain a lot of what he says. But, Jesse, you’ll have to forgive me, but you do seem to see the Domestic Bank issue from Garabedian’s perspective.

    OTOH, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, that, rather than your lack of proper name, is what gives me pause. Generally, the public is at a huge disadvantage when its interests conflict with those of any business. I am suspicious of anyone defending a business too fervently. Which attitude would not go over well in my line of business.

    While I agree with Mark that missing votes is not a good thing. But it also seems a bit of an ad hominem. Is she not representing her constituents effectively? If not, please to explain how, rather than simply state she’s missed votes.

    Regardless, I give Mark props for going out and running the last two times. It takes guts.

    Mr Cloonen, you make many excellent points; I ask that you keep yourself open to all opinions, whether there’s a name attached to them or not. “Caveat Emptor” is an anonymous quote, but worth valuing nonetheless.

    I guess I’m just asking that everyone take a breath and keep it civil. I enjoy this site because the discussions usually don’t devolve into name-calling.

  40. In regards to the Mulligan’s proposal, I found this to be very disturbing. This is from the docket that was posted online for last night’s (7/23) City Council meeting, “Resolution loan order authorizing the issue of $2,710,000 bonds of
    the City for the acquisition, construction, improvement, renovation, repair,
    alteration and equipping of playgrounds and athletic fields: authorizing the issue
    of $2,710,000 temporary notes for that purpose and authorizing
    advances from the General Treasury for that purpose. (Repairs, renovations and
    equipment upgrades to City playgrounds and athletic fields). Sponsored by
    Mayor Napolitano.”

    In a discussion about this item on last night’s agenda, the question was asked about whether the field and former playground at the intersection of Hilltop Drive and New London Ave. would be included since it was part of the Bond Referendum #12 that was passed in the November 2006 election. The answer was that yes it was included, however Frank Migliorelli and Tony Liberatore both stated that any projects on that land would be on hold because of the proposed “big-box” retail development at Mulligan’s.

    I find that very disturbing that the representative from the Mayor’s office and the Director of the Parks & Rec department would hold on redeveloping a playground and ball field at an existing city-owned ball field based on a development that not only does not support the Comprehensive Plan, but technically hasn’t been submitted. It would appear to me that there is something going on with the C&B development project that the city is aware of that residents are not.

    Hopefully all city officials will keep in mind who they represent in office…

  41. I wonder if there are any playgrounds in Ward 6 that will see the bond money for improvements? Afterall, they have a concrete plant 1/2 built. Oak Hill Terrace neighbors should be pretty d@mn angry, as there is merely a proposal (nothing built like our toxic enigma) it appears the City has more information than us and can make such a determination. Clearly it’s unfair to the children and families. To deprive us of this entitlement (yes, we pay taxes: RI is 7th in the Nation in High Ranking Taxes – Cranston is [one of] the highest putting us at 3rd in the Nation) What the Blink is going on????

    Maybe we can get our taxes adjusted accordingly, and start charging new homeowners in Western Cranston a Tax on “Open Space Enjoyment”, as we choke on Wastewater Plant Fumes, Airport Diesal, proposed Crystalline Silica Dust with a constant rumble of diesal trucks, Infrastructure roulette and the town of Malls and Big Box Balance.

    I bet you didn’t have any streets being repaved in your area? I know we don’t in Glen Hills.

    Start going to Council meetings – No, they are NOT fun! But you complain, you now need to be proactive. Knowledge is power and power is also in numbers.


    To lead the people, walk behind them. ~Lao-Tzu

    Need I say anymore!

  43. You need to watch how much of the $2.7 mil actually gets spent on playgrounds. My guess is that they will not spend all of it since some of the ones slated to get improved will be put on hold. Next election- we will be hearing about how the Nappy administration saved X number of dollars on playground improvements. They won’t say that they saved it by not actually improving what was approved. They will make it look like they got a better deal on what was done.

    Jim- I know exactly how you felt the other day trying to turn left on New London coming out Garden Hills. Once you do get to make the left, if not going onto 37 you get to stop at the light at Chapel View. Is there still a weekly accident at that light? I have seen some pretty bad ones there.

    When we tried for a 2 hour parking ordinance- it was blasted. One of the reasons mentioned by several councilmen was enforcement. We don’t have enough police to enforce the 2 hour parking. I think that is a problem someone should be working on. Maybe we wouldn’t have so many accidents? How many of you see the illegal left turns from Route 2 in front of Efendi’s, or just south of there into Garden City. Aren’t the big “ALL TURNS” take next right signs large enough? Digging into the Domestic situation pointed out all sorts of code/law violations. Were any investigated? Were fines ever charged? I believe at one point, the fines for Domestic’s violation of about a dozen codes was close to $250,000. Cranston has closed to schools to save that kind of money.

    What do our elected official’s do- nothing? We need to find the statements that were quoted when sworn into office. That to me is a contract that needs to be upheld- lawsuit for breech of contract?

  44. Ed Angilly, Regarding this statement:

    Reference the same edition of the Herald- letter titled “Kingdom of Garabedian”

    Where is this “Kingdom of Garabedian” letter? I was not able to find it by searching Cranston Herald or by using Google.

    Anyway, it’s a great phrase. I think I’ll use it in a title of one of my posts.

  45. Kiersten, this is what Ed referenced:

    link to letter Cranston Herald

    Written by CLOONEN, THOMAS B.
    Wed, Feb 28 07
    To the Editor:

    Only in the “Kingdom of Council President Garabedian� could you enjoy such an entertaining City Council meeting as this past Monday’s, the results of which were the beheading of a neighborhood and the knighting of Domestic Bank – a company with a demonstrated lack of corporate governance. Only in the “Kingdom of Council President Garabedian� do you see a company rewarded for violating city codes, cease and desist orders and parking bans during snow emergencies.

    Monday night’s council meeting was the show of shows. We for the life of us cannot understand the motivation for such things, but who are we residents but mere mortal serfs? Could it be that Domestic Bank is royalty? That must be it! We keep thinking back to the Ordinance Committee meeting in November when King Garabedian once again championed Domestic Bank and its owner, Nat Baker. We try to rationalize the actions and just keep coming back to the moment (and King Garabedian has back-pedaled on his statement) his Majesty did proclaim in the presence of several Forest Hills serfs, “I’m a personal friend of Nat. In fact, we’re such good friends that I can call him and tell him, ‘Nat, just fix the problem.’â€?

    We believe that the bias King Garabedian has consistently shown against us lowly serfs and the partiality his Majesty has shown towards the recently knighted bank is due to that friendship. We believe a conflict exists and we are asking that King Garabedian recuse himself from further matters involving his self-proclaimed good friend and knight, Nat Baker, and any company in which Sir Baker holds an interest.

    Thomas B. Cloonen

  46. Very funny, Tom. And sad, of course too. But you work the metaphor very well. Thanks.

  47. Kiersten, your welcome. feel free to use the phrase. caveat emptor is a fine one as well.

  48. klaus:

    The only “perspective” I’m interested in is providing facts. To date, none of the facts I have presented on the Domestic issue have been disproved. Instead it’s suggested that I’m a coward and blinded to the truth. In fact, the opposite is true: I stand up to those I feel are in error and bury them in facts. Then, I take the name-calling and conspiracy theories without resorting to those same tactics.

    I thank you for your defense of how I post, and I apologize for the antagonistic response toward you from the previous thread.

  49. …and thank you all for playing the home version of “Tempest in a Teapot”. Next week in the season ending cliffhanger we find out Jesse’s last name, or do we? Stay tuned… If Jesse does not want to reveal his real name it is his choice, a choice that didn’t work out too well for Whole Foods head John Mackey. The information Rachel dropped today is sobering to say the least. How can our elected officials openly defy the electorate and
    not go forward with Bond Referendum #12 as approved. The language and intent of that referendum were approved by voters in 11/06, and there were no stipulations or disclaimers on the ballot. The 07 budget short changes our schools, and apparently our children’s leisure time
    as well. Our city’s “future” has been sited by nearly every elected official during the course of their campaigns, but what will that future hold for our children. If current trends are not reversed, if current
    ill-conceived developments are not thwarted, our children will inherit a city filled with empty store fronts, little recreational space, almost no open space,
    a silica spewing batching plant, an underfunded school system, and a generation or two of angry and betrayed parents and grandparents who did their best to make and keep this city livable, but who’s efforts were trumped by the powers that be on Park Avenue.

  50. Well Richard, I believe we do find out Jesse’s last name. Check out the reponses under “kingdom of Garabedian” Compliments of Mark Lucas.

  51. Yes, Rachel. I think that is why some people are afraid that because Mr. Garabedian was in favor of the Churchill & Banks development that includes Panera (his favorite hangout, he likes to say) that he will also be in favor of options presented by Churchill & Banks for Mulligan’s Island. It’s just a fear; of course Mr. Garabedian is being careful and getting an ethics ruling from the state before making any comment on the Mulligan’s Island proposals. But the concern about conflict of interest is good to be aware of.

  52. Rachel, have any council members other than Aram come out in support of your group and against development? Any of them on record?

  53. Tom,
    Councilman Garabedian has not officially made a statement of support as he is still awaiting his decision from the Ethics Committee. Our own councilman, Jeff Barone, and Councilwoman McFarland are the only 2 that have officially said on the record that they will support the residents of Cranston on this issue.

  54. All,

    Drive by in a few weeks. Unexpectedly. One doesn’t come looking for the enemy when they expect you. By the way, I have pictures of employees moving cars from Richland to Riverfarm this morning. Right after I did a walk thru with my camera. Honest bunch of folks we got there.

    And Jesse, my invitation still stands. Stop by when you’re in the neighborhood. I’m the only blue house with a white picket fence.

  55. Just yesterday a building up the street from Domestic start ripping up there parking lot. Not sure if it is for expansion, or just trying to improve the look of their property (Medical Bldg just South of National Pet). Doesn’t matter what the reason is, but no citizen’s had to go to city hall to get something done. The Domestic lot project work started in Early June. Now it is 7 weeks later, and the lot is open, as to whether or not it is complete, still needs to be reviewed.

    If Domestic is such a good asset to Cranston, why did it take 2 years to do a 7 week project? Why did our city council even allow that type of time between tearing down houses, and improving the property. If C&B took 3 years to complete Panera Bread- would Aram have spoken up and screamed “long and loud”?

    Unfortunately, I think Richard is correct in saying “our children will inherit a city filled with empty store fronts, little recreational space, almost no open space,
    a silica spewing batching plant, an underfunded school system, and a generation or two of angry and betrayed parents and grandparents who did their best to make and keep this city livable, but who’s efforts were trumped by the powers that be on Park Avenue.”

  56. Ed:

    The purchase of abutting homes and approval for the new lot is what took all that time.

    I’d also point out that the former Howard Johnson’s (if my memory serves), which is now the site of Panera, sat vacant for many years before the new project was approved. And if I’m not mistaken, the construction and completion of the new building took something like 16 months (following several meetings with abutting residents who protested the potential lighting of the property).

    And I simply don’t agree that the concrete plant will happen. In fact, once the ZBR can get a quorum, I give the chances of actually having the plant at 100,000,000 to 1 against.

    As I’ve tried to explain previously (only to be drowned out by those with far less proof), even though the city has been delayed in overturning Laffey’s ill-conceived permit for the plant — which is maybe what Richard is referring to when he cites “the powers that be” — the basic goal is to stop the plant. The lawsuit against the city only underscored its right to complete the legislative approval process (that is, refer it to ZBR) and, ultimately, defeat the proposal.

    I think the delay is causing undue panic.

  57. Rachel,

    I’m surpised Santa Maria hasn’t gone public with his position. Or Emilio Navarro. They are both good men. Emilio is one of the more honorable men I have had the pleasure to meet, albeit he’s in the wrong party.. (a little levity)

    Lanni will need to wait to hear Garabedian’s position before he knows which way he should lean.

    Let us know if there is anything we can do to assist your cause, including financial assistance

  58. Tom,
    Hopefully once a new proposal has been filed with the City Planning Department than we will hear public responses from more City Council members.

    Our group has retained legal council and have started seeking contributions for our legal fund, any assistance that your group or other residents could give us would be greatly appreciated.

  59. rachel, send an e-mail to me with the particulars. i will forward it to our distribution list. I’ll send a check as well

  60. Tom Cloonen says:

    “One doesn’t come looking for the enemy when they expect you.”

    This is precisely the kind of angry rhetoric that I feel is unnecessary when discussing local issues. The “enemy”?! It’s a bank!

    And stalking peoples’ cars to take pictures — well, that’s just creepy.

    The big meeting has already started (it’s 6:25 by my clock), and as you see, I’m not there.

    That’s because this issue is over. The lot is done, it’s paved, the cars are parking in the lot (whatever Mr. “Residents Gone Wild” Cloonen alleges), and the bank will continue to do business right where it is.

    So I think a legitimate question is, what exactly has been accomplished by Mr. Cloonen’s stance?

    My scorecard looks like this: No stopping the lot. Fewer cars on his street. Lots of anger. Conspiracy theories and borderline slander. And an anonymous letter at the 11th hour in the Cranston Herald that likewise had no effect.

    I’d also add that Mr. Cloonen seems to like Emilio because he’s doing his job as a first-term City Councilor: listening to vocal residents about their issues. Once this lot thing is over, I expect Emilio will find more important things to spend his time addressing.

  61. Jesse-prior to Panera it was the Duncan Fyffe, not a HOJO’s. The reason it was vacant for some time is because Pep boys wanted to build there. As I stated the other day, the “king” did not want that in his neighborhhod, and the project was fought and killed. Only then could Panera get started.

    The delay was in paving th elot was due to the owners arroagnce. He could care less what the property looks like, He had a storage trailer on the property for almost 2 years before he actually got the required permits.

    The sad thing is, not matter what side of the arguement you are on- there are several violations of city code, all over this city that go unpunished. That is what shoudl be adressed! We need less complaining about overworked people, that don’t even seem to doing their jobs. In this day and age, I am sure most of us feel overworked, but at the end of the day, did we do our job? Most will say yes.

    I stopped calling police to ticket the illegally parked cars that prevented my son’s bus from coming down the street and started calling the bank. All I got from employees coming out to “legally” park thier cars was dirty looks and rude comments. You would have thought that the bank would have written an e-mail asking people to obey the laws. Sounds pretty stupid when seeing it in writing, but why don’t they obey the laws?

    When a camera coes out in this neighborhood, all sorts of silent alarms go off at the bank, and it starts to look like a highly trained military operation. Those cars disappear faster than a kid running after an ice cream truck. Why so much effort to hide the cars on the road. I had to laugh tonight when a bank employee presented pictures of the empty roads. Wait a week or two, they will all be back out there. Several a day parked illegally. The same employee is one of the frequent illegal parkers.

  62. Jesse,
    My use of the intentionally vague “powers that be” phrase
    is aimed at any and all elected officials who choose to or are influenced to turn a deaf ear to their constituents. It’s quite simple. All any of us are asking our elected officials to do is “do the right thing” (thanks Spike). It has been proven in the past that the citizens of Cranston will pay additional taxes to maintain the quality of life they have enjoyed.We have been doing so for years.
    I have no problem with tax and spend liberals, so long as the spending either maintains our standard of living or improves it. Pay raises for teachers, police, and fire not only reward our public servants, but help to maintain the ranks of a dwindling middle class in our nation. My problems with former Mayor Laffey were two-fold: 1) the philosophy of tax and slash (programs, etc…)still, to this day, angers me. Our property taxes increased dramatically during his tenure,without any measureable increase in our quality of life. I will give him his do for restoring our bond rating. 2) I had many Saturday morning conversations with Steve at the Post Office in Rolfe Square. He had the nerve to tell me what strong union/labor ties he had. “My father was a Union guy, and basically so am I.” I don’t care if his father was Jimmy Hoffa, Steve Laffey, the contract busting “outsider”, was definitely NOT a Union guy. He once told me that he really didn’t want to move to Washington, careful what you wish for. Arrogant and detached are the two word that I feel best describe him.
    I commend you for the excellent job you and your neighbors did tonight. Domestic and Co. rolled out a bevy of suits and ties, along with some “awww shucks”isms from Ray Durfee. Hopefully my point about Durfee Hardware still being in business because they have been “good neighbors” to the folks in Rolfe Square, will some how sink into the collective psyche of Domestic Bank. Good neighbors don’t soil a neighborhood with unwanted parked vehicles; good neighbors don’t skirt their responsibilty to the neighborhood and the city by stalling and delaying agreed upon provisions and common sense improvements ; good neighbors don’t play duck/duck/goose with their employee’s automobiles to create business friendly photo ops to present at ordinance meetings. Richard/SCOS

  63. I believe that Pep Boys ended up pulling out because of the delay caused by the fight that residents put up to prevent them from going there. They simply got tired of waiting and went elsewhere.

    One thing though is that the property in question was and still is zoned commercial, which makes it a much different situation than what is happening with the Mulligan’s land.

  64. Folks, I refer you to the web address below. It sums up what happened to the residents of Forest Hills last night, and just may be a glimpse into future for those that live in other neighborhoods through out the city.

    caveat emptor

  65. Ed:

    I stand corrected: the Panera site was previously Duncan Fyffe. Thanks for the clarification. Also, I can’t speak to the motivations of Mr. Baker at Domestic, i.e., whether he “could care less” about how the property appeared. Did he say this publicly? If you’re just deducing that from his behavior or from the 2-year delay (remember, this was during Laffey’s tenure when virtually nothing happened in the Building Office — except for an 11-day turnaround on the concrete plant permit), that casts a different light on your statement.


    Sorry if I misunderstood your statement. Also, nice to see someone else sharing my long-held feelings about Laffey. One minor point I’d make is that the bond rating only went up because of the huge tax increases in such a short time. As evidenced by Mayor Nap’s recent letter blasting “the Laffey administration and former City Council” for spending about $6 million in surplus funds to avoid a tax hike last year (and give taxpayers a little relief for the first time in four years), there are still major holes in the city budget — holes that Laffey did not fix.

  66. Jesse,
    You obviously have not done your research on the Domestic lot history. Nathaniel Baker was quoted in the projo a week or so after the cease and desist order was closed. Just drive through the neighborhood, a few houses have not had their signs blow away, or stolen yet. The quote was “These people can scream long and loud to make the city back off, or they will be looking at the dirt lot for a long time” “I may just turn it into a putting green” This is from Projo- July/Aug 2006.

    Does that sound like comments from a concerned business owner? He has said far worse than that after council meetings and site review meetings, that were not published.

  67. If you stop a man from abusing is wife, are you being anti-marriage?

    If you stop parents from abusing their children, are you being anti-family?

    Domestic Bank is abusing its surrounding community and stopping them from doing so is not being anti-business, it is being responsible.

  68. Andre,
    Very valid points. I visited the website that your name linked to and I noticed that it deals with national issues. Are you a resident of Cranston or RI?

  69. Rachel McNally Says:
    July 27th, 2007 at 4:17 pm
    How ironic, you wanted a parking lot and got threatened with a golf course. We want a golf course and get threatened with parking lots.

    I nominate these two sentences for “Comment of the Year.”

  70. Thanks, Mark and Rick.

    I’m not sure how involved you were in the residents’ fight to get the parking ordinance approved, but everyone that I’ve spoken to on this side of the city is very disappointed about Monday night’s outcome.

  71. As all of you know, this afternoon we had some heavy rain. What I noticed with the new Domestic Bank parking lot was this: water collected on the pavement and headed right for Reservoir Ave like a waterfall over the cement stairs and sidewalk flooding the road with 3 to 6 inches of water.

    I have not seen Reservoir flood like that before. Is this an unintended consequence of the lot?

    Rachel: Kiersten, Mark and Rick can attest for me.

  72. Andre ran for school committee last fall and did well, though much to his secret relief, I’m sure, (school committee = volunteering for torture) he did not win. He is a very active community member in many ways, on the vestry of Church of the Ascension, active with school issues, a dog lover, and all-around nice guy. Also a member of the air national guard.

  73. Andre,
    I was just curious, I didn’t mean to imply anything by my question. I hadn’t seen your name on the blog before, but I’m glad you’ve joined in on this conversation.

  74. Andre, I was wondering how the Domestic parking lot held up in tonights rain storm. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Baker will be having a problem with drainage.

  75. No worries, I have been lurking here and posting on DailyKos.

    I did not venture out in last night’s rainstorm so I don’t know.

    It would not surprise me if we find out that dealing with rain and drainage, in general, was overlooked.

  76. Andre, have you spoken to Henry Peter in the Highway Dept. or Ernie?

    This is going to be an ongoing problem if we do not balance with open space….and by balance, i don’t mean putting ALL the open space in Western Cranston, as that contradicts the Comprehensive Plan.

    Rachel and Lori, how has the water flow been in your area – as I know you said in the past it has been an issue? The flood season is upon us and the Committee Chair for the Flood and Drainage Study Commission is Aram – but he has not held a meeting in months and the last meeting was only because I asked Councilwoman McFarland to arrange it (Aram was absent, but came in the last 5 minutes and had a speech). If we fill Mulligan’s with development and asphalt the flooding will be a huge problem. I plan to drive that home at the Ordinance meeting as I am not satisfied with the plan.

    Richard Brown, I think your statement of what the City will be like should be read to the Council and you need to do it. Clearly as Tom has said the City Council and Mayor are Anti-Resident… that!

    Last I looked, the poll in the Cranston Herald had most people leaving Cranston as soon as they could sell their house….we have been looking at houses for a couple of months. I just don’t understand if there are 80,000 residents, why doesn’t a fraction of those appear at the Council meeting and demand reversals of some of these ridiculous decisions. Why should we move! They should be made to vote the way we want. I have lived here now for 6 years – I’m ready to tap the red shoes and move back to Mass and pay less in taxes and 1/2 the B.S. with politics.

  77. Suzanne,

    And I back to NH where there is no state income tax, no sales tax and the roads are in great shape. Where there’s the Union Leader, and residents don’t tolerate political rhetoric and BS.

  78. Jim

    Go to

    Go to calendar. All committee meetings are listed.

    By the way, I’m a Mass ass as well. Grew up on the northshore. Welcome to Camelot where Garabedian is king! You’ll enjoy the show. Lots of screaming and pounding on tables.

  79. Jim,

    Full City Council meetings are usually on the last Monday of the month, but check the calendar to be sure – link to city calendar
    I’ve been going to City Council meetings for about 5 years now, and everyone should find time to attend at least a few every year, especially the budget sessions, where you can ask softball questions that reveal the incompetence of some folks. Just ask Tom – a numbers guy – who had the temerity to ask for a simple spreadsheet so he could crunch some numbers.

    There is a big difference between the rhetoric you read in the papers and the reality of the situation. At the meetings you get to see the elected officials that are paying attention, the ones that are “mailing it in” and the ones who shouldn’t be driving a car let alone running our city.

    And should you attend, don’t just sit there – get up and speak your mind. Even a sentence or two, delivered from the heart, will get your point across.

  80. Jim,
    The August 7th meeting is a Planning Board meeting at East. Churchill & Banks will NOT be presenting their proposal that evening. However, it will still be a very important meeting. Councilperson Lupino’s Informed Growth Provision will be discussed. This proposed ordinance would provide additional safeguards to small businesses and neighborhoods that are facing the prospect of having a large-scale/big box development as their new neighbor. The goal of this proposed ordinance is to assure residents that the impact of such large-scale developments will create “no undue harm” to their neighborhood/local area. The ordinance calls for additional environmental, neighborhood impact and economic studies to be conducted at the developers expense. Currently the city foots the bill for these Comprehensive Impact Studies. There will also be a meeting of the City Council’s Ordinance Committee on August 16th in Council Chambers to discuss the Informed Growth Provision. It was at this step in the process that Councilperson Navarro’s resident-only parking ordinance was shot down 3-2. The public is invited to speak at both of these meetings and your imput and attendance are very important. While the Informed Growth Provision will not cure all of the city’s financial and planning woes, or alleviate all the concerns of it’s citizens, it is a HUGE step in the right direction. Tom can tell you that the opponents of these citizen-friendly ordinances will be present in large numbers. The Chamber of Horrors,errr Commerce, a chorus line of lawyers and real estate “experts” will all call this proposal “anti-business”. It is our job to convince the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee that “community-friendly/pro common sense”
    does not mean “anti-business”. We at SCOS will be speaking in favor of this provision and hope that all concerned citizens in our city can attend. When Suzanne quotes the number of residents v. the number of citizens in attendance at council meetings, she exposes a fatal flaw in us all, one that I was guilty of until just recently…APATHY. If we choose to summarily accept the way business is conducted in our city; if we choose to simply complain after the fact when good ordinances are shot down in committee; then quite honestly we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have no choice but to fight to maintain our quality of life, because if we do not, there are not enough honest and fair elected officials to fight for us. A point that was driven home
    recently when the resident-only parking ordinance died in committee.

  81. Rick is right, a lot of us were unaware of the impact we can have on the future of our city and we now need to be proactive in this and all future matters. Please attend the meetings on the 7th and the 16th.

    C&B needs to submit their plan by August 17th if they wish to present at the September 11 Planning Commission Meeting.

  82. Folks, what concerns me is that we’re not hearing what our elected think about this. They need to go on the record now. They are either with you/us or against you/us.Take silence as an “against” vote…..

  83. Please, Tom, as I’ve asked before, don’t let the city’s delay cause you to panic. I would also caution any others against following your advice to “take silence as an ‘against’ vote.”

    You seem to be impatient when it comes to the legislative/bureaucratic process; I don’t view that as legitimate reason to foster such a stance on your part.

    At the risk of repeating myself, I think the elected officials can not simply go public with their thoughts without raising the potential for costly legal fights. Even if Paula McFarland and another councilor (I forget who else… Tony Lupino?) have spoken out against the C&B plan, having even three more informal “votes” against the proposal could create more problems than it would solve.

    I’ve also learned, though, that you are more apt to expect the worst even in the face of overwhelming evidence, so I don’t expect you will change your tune.

    (And skip the cheap shot about me posting anonymously this time. If you have a legitimate argument, make it. Otherwise let the process happen.)

  84. Jesse,

    Read last week’s editorial in the Herald. Then tell us to be patient.It is what it is and no one knows that better than those living in the shadow of Domestic Bank.

  85. I find it ridiculous that the threat of litigation for not changing rules for someone is even a possibility. Also, they are protected by a US Supreme Court ruling.

  86. I don’t know anything about the law, but it seems to me that because C and B is asking the city to change its current zoning and city comprehensive plan the city would be under no legal or moral obligation to give them the time of day. Why can’t the city council simply state that they are unwilling to make those changes to current ZONING LAW and established city guidelines indicating that no commerical development should occur at Mulligans. If C and B could litigate, than by that standard I could sue the city when they tell me I can’t build a gas station in my back yard. Pretty silly comparison, but the same idea.

    Jesse, I hope your right, but I think everyone’s general distrust of city government is that in general, residents get screwed by behind the scenes deals between politicians and business, and this happens everywhere, not just in Cranston.

    I think the reported information thus far raises some legitimate questions about whether the city council knows more about this deal than we do. An example of this is the city putting on hold any repair or renovations of the ball park due to the potential development. Seems a bit fishy to me if everyone is really against this development. Again, the development CANNOT happen without approval from the city. To me, holding off on repairing that ball field is suspicious.

  87. Jim:

    My understanding is that there’s a new proposal being floated by C&B (sorry if this is old info), which just further proves my point that city officials can’t say anything. How can you oppose a moving target?

    I do get your excellent point, though, that there may be a way for councilors to say they oppose changes to the zoning law. That’s an interesting thought, but I still wonder whether it would avoid potential problems.

    The whole litigation issue came to mind in recalling the Wal-Mart in Wickford. Well before the proposal was heard, a number of elected officials spoke out against the plan. Wal-Mart lawyered up (as I remember it) and claimed that the zoning and planning boards would be unfairly influenced by the town councilors’ stance. The plan went to the boards, they were cowtowed into approving it, and now there’s a Wal-Mart. And a Home Depot. And a Stop & Shop. None of which the town wanted in the first place, but by jumping the gun and failing to let the process happen, NK wound up with a big box village. The only thing they could control, in the end, is how far back from the road the entrance to Wal-Mart would be.

    I think it’s better, overall, for the council to stay quiet, let the boards do their jobs, and vote it down when it reaches the council (if it survives that far). The public will have their say in due course — and, optimistic as it sounds, I think the city officials will listen.

  88. I contacted the town council president, Ed Cooney of North Kingstown’s town council. I asked if the representation that “The plan went to the boards, they were cowtowed into approving it” was accurate. Here is Ed’s reponse. Please note I deleted a portion of his personal e-mail address.

    —–Original Message—–
    Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 11:58 AM
    To: Cloonen, Thomas
    Subject: Re: Is the attached accurate?

    Tom, I was not on council during the Wal mart fight but i do not remember it the way it is portrayed here. The planning commission and zoning board were not forced to accept anything and in fact did an excellent job of producing a Wal Mart design that blends well into the character of the town. The Home Depot and Stop and shop decision were separate from wal Mart and it is inaccurate to state the town did not want. them. The stop and shop design is again a good example of a developer knowing the town is sensitive to design / character of buildings and accordingly e developer produces a design that preserves certain aspects of the perceived town’s character. Ed
    —- “Cloonen wrote:
    > Ed, this was posted in a blog. Is it accurate? It doesn’t make sense
    > to me.
    > Thanks, Tom Cloonen Cranston, RI 401-944-3954
    > **********************************************************************
    > **
    > 1.
    > Jesse from Cranston Says:
    > August 7th, 2007 at 10:42 am
    > Jim:
    > My understanding is that there’s a new proposal being floated by C&B
    > (sorry if this is old info), which just further proves my point that
    > city officials can’t say anything. How can you oppose a moving target?
    > I do get your excellent point, though, that there may be a way for
    > councilors to say they oppose changes to the zoning law. That’s an
    > interesting thought, but I still wonder whether it would avoid
    > potential problems.
    > The whole litigation issue came to mind in recalling the Wal-Mart in
    > Wickford. Well before the proposal was heard, a number of elected
    > officials spoke out against the plan. Wal-Mart lawyered up (as I
    > remember it) and claimed that the zoning and planning boards would be
    > unfairly influenced by the town councilors’ stance. The plan went to
    > the boards, they were cowtowed into approving it, and now there’s a
    > Wal-Mart. And a Home Depot. And a Stop & Shop. None of which the town
    > wanted in the first place, but by jumping the gun and failing to let
    > the process happen, NK wound up with a big box village. The only thing
    > they could control, in the end, is how far back from the road the
    > entrance to Wal-Mart would be.
    > I think it’s better, overall, for the council to stay quiet, let the
    > boards do their jobs, and vote it down when it reaches the council (if
    > it survives that far). The public will have their say in due course
    > – and, optimistic as it sounds, I think the city officials will listen.

  89. There is a new proposal floating around for Quonset that was shot down by the state a few months ago. Apparently big-box stores are trying to go in there as well and the Governor supports the new design.

  90. I think the only way to get developers to stop building big box shopping areas is to stop shopping at them.

    It scares me to see the number of Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Kohls and Dicks there are, everywhere, no matter where you are in New England. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Target is one of my favorite stores, so I’m as guilty as everyone, but I wouldn’t be at all sad to see all the big box stores go much smaller, and for developers to start building shopping areas where you could actually walk from one store to another without having to cross a 200 yard plus parking lot.

    Its hard to forget the old smaller box stores which all went out of business like Bradlees, Ames, Caldors and a few others. Once they went out of business they became ugly abandoned parking lots with an ugly empty store. Imagine what the new big box stores will look like empty.

  91. Hi Tom, I think those stores you mentioned have there place in our city and state, however FORCING them into an area designated as “open space” will never sit well with me.

  92. Why does every town need it own version of the box store that is 20 minutes up the road. A BJ’s at Mulligan’s means there would be one 20 minutes south of that one in Coventry, 20 minutes north of that in Johnston. We shouldn’t be eating into our open spaces to build unnccesary buildings. Why not go where there are already empty buildings. Plaza across from Shaws in Johntson on RTE 6. Rhode island Mall has plenty of vacancies.

    Some of you have mentioned abut moving into RI from out of state. I grew up here, moved out and then came back. I got to see how non RI’s lived. I commuted over 120 miles a day back and forth to work. Growing up in RI- it was an all day excursion to go from Cranston to Schartner’s farm.

    I moved back to RI to accept a job in West Kingston, and commute there every day. Right past Schartner’s. When Circuit City first opened up, there were South County people that wanted to check it out- didn’t realize that it was “past the malls”. Never been that far from home before.
    We are all willing to travel all over the country to go camping or to see wonderful sites, but are unwilling to drive more than 15 minutes to preserve those camping areas and sites within our state.

  93. Rumor has it that BJ’s wants to leave Johnston because they can’t have their 12-pump gas station there. Even if there had to be one in Cranston for some reason (although I can’t fathom any), the RI Mall wasn’t available, etc. there are places like the mostly-empty Walmart/former Rojac’s plaza on Plainfield Pike that are already zoned commercial and in need of new tenants because they’re currently vacant.

    I agree with Ed that Rhode Islanders need to broaden their horizons a bit and be willing to drive more than 20 minutes to get somewhere and that’s coming from a native Rhode Islander. I commuted from my work in Providence to URI for grad school twice a week for 3 years and people thought that I was crazy for doing that because it was such a LONG drive!

  94. Lori, point well taken. I got a little off focus. Like I said, I shop at the stores I mentioned, I’m a member at BJs and love Target. The problem is that they want to force it into an area where it truly doesn’t belong and is unnecessary.

    But I see them trying to build it at Mulligans as a symptom of the bigger problem, they are building these massive shopping areas everywhere you look and all these shopping areas are the same, big huge parking lots with the same big huge stores. Everyone sees it as normal, but now they want to build them everywhere, including places they don’t belong.

    In our case, the fact that they want to change established open space into the very antithesis of open space just adds insult to injury. Big box stores have their pros and cons, building them on open space only has cons.

  95. Does the BJ’s in Coventry have a pump station? That’s just at exit 7 off 95. A friend of mine who lives in Coventry said that there were at least six houses on the road for sale because of the traffic situation.

  96. Welcome back Jesse from Cranston, or should I say, Jesse from the abutting “fake grass” neighborhood. I missed your posts their conspiracy claims. Why don’t you explain your apparent memory lapse as pointed out in comment # 104.Once you do, I’ll post a reponse to your claims that one can not forecast a favorable variance to any budget. If they can’t, they have no business being in office.

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