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Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Announces $1 Million in Funding for Regional and Local Planning Initiatives

Providence, RI - Fifteen regional and local planning projects will receive approximately $1 million under the Statewide Planning Program's Planning Challenge Grant Program, Governor Chafee announced today in a 3:00 p.m. public ceremony in the Atrium Gallery of the Department of Administration. Selected from 33 proposals requesting over $2.3 million, the 15 projects slated for funding come from a variety of project sponsors and propose innovative solutions to address land use and transportation issues faced by Rhode Island communities.

"These Challenge Grants represent a creative use of Federal funds to help Rhode Island cities and towns to plan for their future growth and development. They include projects of statewide significance, such as the Warwick Station Development District, to projects more local in scale, such as the Woonsocket Main Street Livability Plan, and the joint collaboration between Pawtucket and Central Falls. Through this partnership with our local governments and non profit agencies, we are working together to advance both state and local initiatives in transportation, land use, and economic development," Governor Chafee said.

Grants announced today go to ten municipalities, three non-profit organizations, one academic institution, and one state agency and will support planning projects having an estimated value, including sponsor-match and leveraged funds, of approximately $1.5 million.

Grant recipients announced today are: Grow Smart Rhode Island; the Cities of Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, Woonsocket, and Warwick; the Towns of Exeter, Johnston, Tiverton, Smithfield, and Warren; the Providence Plan; the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resource Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant; the Olneyville Housing Corporation; and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Projects include updates to local comprehensive plans, downtown redevelopment plans, funding for the Grow Smart Land use Training Collaborative, and the investigation of alternative transportation modes. A summary of the all grant awards including contact information is provided below.

As a component of the Department of Administration's Division of Planning, the Statewide Planning Program is charged with preparing and maintaining plans for the physical, economic, and social development of the state; encouraging their implementation; and coordinating the actions of state, local and federal agencies and private individuals. Supported with planning funds provided through the Federal Highway Administration, the Planning Challenge Grant Program was initially developed by the Statewide Planning Program in 2006 as a means to further the implementation of the state's official land use plan, Land Use 2025, and the state's long range transportation plan, Transportation 2030. Together these plans urge state, local, and regional agencies to work together to create a constellation of community centers connected by infrastructure corridors and framed by greenspace.

Since 2006, the Planning Challenge Grant Program has provided over $2.8 million to state agencies, municipalities, universities and non-profit agencies for a variety of inventive and diverse transportation and land use projects: including the implementation of Rhode Island's first transfer of development rights program in North Kingstown, creation of a new village center with accompanying zoning and design guidelines in the Town of Exeter, and a short sea shipping infrastructure assessment in the City of Providence. A complete list of all previously funded projects is available on the Statewide Planning Program website,

In announcing the awards today, Kevin Flynn, Associate Director of the Division of Planning commented: "We are particularly pleased to be able to make resources available to support these 15 local and regional planning efforts that will help us at the state level achieve the objectives of the State Guide Plan. As illustrated by the success of our past Planning Challenge Grant recipients, sometimes a relatively small investment can make the difference between a plan that 'sits on the shelf' and one that truly changes a community, a region, or a state. We are hopeful that in supporting these planning projects we can continue to transform ideas into actions that will make Rhode Island a better place for us all."

For more information contact Karen Scott, Assistant Chief, Statewide Planning Program at 401-222-4411.

Proposals funded in the Statewide Planning Program's 2012 Planning Challenge Grant Program are:

TOWN OF EXETER: $50,000 to develop town-wide digital parcel data and to create a web-based application for GIS deployment to assist with regional and local planning initiatives including site plan review, transfer of development rights, and public safety improvement. Contact: David Schweid, Town Planner, 294-2612.

GROW SMART RHODE ISLAND: $100,000 to continue the award-winning Grow Smart RI Land Use Training Collaborative, including at least 25 workshops on topics such as the Complete Streets program, mixed use development, agricultural viability, and the roles and responsibilities of municipal officials in the state, local planning, and project review processes. Contact: Scott Wolf, Executive Director, 273-5711.

TOWN OF JOHNSTON: $53,800 to create and maintain an updated parcel-based database, and to make the information available on their website. This data will be used in comprehensive planning, zoning, transportation infrastructure planning, land use inventories, site suitability assessments, and socio-demographic analysis. Contact: Pamela M. Sherrill, Town Planner, 231-4000 ext. 4021.

CITY OF NEWPORT: $58,000 to complete a detailed planning assessment and a re-use plan for the area in and around the Newport Pell Bridge Ramp, Connell Highway Interchange and Navy Hospital property. The primary goal is to plan for the re-use of properties that will become available in the future and to address circulation impacts from future development. Contact: Paige Bronk, Director of Planning and Development, 845-5450.

OLNEYVILLE HOUSING CORPORATION: $50,000 to analyze and outline a new circulation pattern through and around Olneyville Square, paying specific attention to mobility, livability, affordable housing, environmental impact, and the interaction between neighborhood and the business district. Contact: Frank Shea, OHC Executive Director, 351-8719 ext: 102.

CITY OF PAWTUCKET: $100,000 together with the City of Central Falls, to design a market-based real estate development strategy with consideration to growth in historic preservation, affordable housing choices, and to prepare a transportation plan integrating bicycle networks, bus connectivity and foot traffic in the downtown Pawtucket/Central Falls River Corridor. Contact: Michael P. Davolio, Director of Planning and Redevelopment, 724-5200.

CITY OF PROVIDENCE: $36,000 to create a new bike plan for Providence; to improve convenient and attractive off-street routes, to encourage a safe bike culture with consideration to the needs of all ages and skill levels, to promote public health by reducing auto emissions and encouraging physical activity, improve the transportation system for residents and visitors and boost the city's image as a leader in sustainable transportation systems. Contact: Melanie Army, Principal Planner, 680-8400.

THE PROVIDENCE PLAN: $43,000 to assist in launching the Rhode Island Community Profile, a website that will provide users throughout the state with unparalleled access to demographic, health, economic, education, transportation, land use, housing, and environmental data at numerous geographic levels – state, city/town, census, and in some cases neighborhood. The site will include a user-friendly mapping interface that will enable the creation of customized maps, tables, and charts that can be integrated into planning studies, funding proposals, and public presentations. Contact: Jim Lucht, Information Group Director, 455-8880 ext 215.

RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: $100,000 to assess village development in Rhode Island and other similar areas to identify successful strategies that can be replicated in other local areas. This assessment will be supplemented with a guidance manual and training program developed for local officials to raise awareness in methods to successfully encourage villages in their communities. Contact: Scott Millar, Administrator, Sustainable Watersheds Program, 222-2776, ext. 4419.

TOWN OF SMITHFIELD: $32,500 to update the town's Comprehensive Community Plan. Contact: Michael Phillips, Director of Planning and Economic Development, 233-1017.

TOWN OF TIVERTON: $52,770 to develop and implement form-based zoning codes to transform the Main Road into a Main Street, and to reinvent and re-image Bliss Corners as a village center to serve the surrounding area; creating pedestrian activity, reducing parking and driving demands, and enabling context sensitive future development. Contact: Chris Spencer, Town Planner, 816-0494.

THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND – Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant: $100,000 to develop in collaboration with the Town of North Kingstown, a comprehensive plan element addressing climate change adaptation in relation to transportation and land use issues. This project will also prepare a detailed listing of transportation and land use projects that support climate change adaptation and develop a training session to serve as a model for other Rhode Island Communities. Contact: Teresa Crean, Coastal Manager/ Extension Specialist, 874-6626.

TOWN OF WARREN: $30,000 together with the Town of Bristol, to investigate the potential use of the National Grid power line easement as a more formal walking/ biking trail from Bristol into Warren. Contact: Caroline Wells, Director of Planning & Community Development, 245-2469.

CITY OF WARWICK: $100,000 to develop a comprehensive design manual establishing standards and guidelines for development within the Warwick Station Development District. The manual aims to direct both public and private investment in this area to create a livable and sustainable community by employing smart growth principles to support the development of a walkable, mixed-use city center characterized by a variety of transportation, work and leisure options as well as mixed-income housing choices. Contact: Dan Geagan, Senior Planner, 738-2000 ext 6295.

CITY OF WOONSOCKET: $100,000 to prepare a Main Street Livability Plan which will address streetscape design, pedestrian/bike and transit planning and parking. This project also proposes to create form based zoning codes to implement the Plan's recommendations. Contact: Jennifer Siciliano, Deputy Director, Planning and Development, 767-1418.

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