Pulaski Blvd. Meeting Results in Suggestions for Improvement
written by Lynn S. Ulsh, Bulletin ReporterThe Master Plan Implementation Team and Town Planner Stacey Wetstein held a meeting at the Keough Building on July 9 to discuss the current state of Pulaski Boulevard and possibilities for aesthetic improvement of this busy roadway.
Over 25 area residents and business owners discussed the problems facing the Pulaski area of Rte. 126, from Crooks Corner to the Woonsocket town line, and brainstormed to make a priority list for both short-term and long-term improvements.
Areas to address were identified such as the utility poles, lack of greenery, state of the buildings and vacant lots, proliferation of advertising signs, lack of diversity of businesses, and deterioration of sidewalks.
Pulaski Blvd was identified as a “gateway into the town.” Currently, according to residents and business owners, it is an eyesore (although one person did say how nice Chevy’s Ice Cream looks). Several business owners, including Pool Pro/Chevy’s Ice Cream owner John Murray and Thundermist Car Wash owner Ron Lussier, spoke about how a more attractive roadway would be beneficial to local shops. There is a great traffic flow from Rhode Island into Massachusetts on that roadway; the goal is to make it so that people want to stop.
Pulaski Blvd. is one of the rare thoroughfares with utility poles running along both sides of the street, thus causing wires crisscrossing the street to connect to both sets of poles. According to meeting officials, back in the 1960s the utility companies disputed over who was to build and maintain the poles along Pulaski Blvd, so separate telephone and utility company poles were constructed on opposite sides, and every home and business had wires running to each side.
The assembled group would prefer to see the eventual burying of the utility lines; however, at the very least they would like to see the consolidation of the utility poles, which would cut in half the number of wires crossing the street.
Another priority discussed was adding more curb appeal along the roadway. Long-time resident Chuck Trottier noted that pictures from the 1930s and 40s show a tree-lined street. He said that every time the road was widened over the years, more trees and greenery were removed with no replacement. Then businesses were constructed where the asphalt came all the way to meet the street. People were unanimous in their support to add more greenery along the property frontage to add visual relief.
Residents also said that over the years the sidewalks, which are directly next to the busy roads, have fallen into disrepair, making it almost impossible to push a baby stroller or maneuver a wheelchair. Bellingham resident Bill O’Connell would like to see attractive period streetlights to enhance the area.
Short-term goals include enforcement of the signage by-laws and speed limits in the area. The by-laws already limit the number of advertising signs on a property, but currently, signs advertising the sale of specific products such as cigarettes and beer line the buildings, fences and poles.
Also, residents complained that there has been a recent proliferation of several similar businesses such as tattoo parlors and smoke shops. Wetstein said that some towns have enacted by-laws requiring that a certain distance be maintained when similar businesses are established.
Additionally, certain lots have remained vacant from 10 to 50 years. The lots and buildings have often fallen into a state of disrepair, which are not only unattractive, but in some cases dangerous. Residents would like to see the town enforce a minimum standard requirement for all properties.
When asked what they would like to see in the area in the next 10 years, people wanted a mix of commercial and residential properties, with more businesses such as fine restaurants (not fast food), family entertainment such as mini-golf, and a more pleasing look.
Master Plan Committee member Brian Sutherland said that the first step is to get the word out and garner support for a “Corridor Enhancement Initiative.” There had been two previous meetings at the municipal building; however, this meeting was by far the best attended (perhaps because this meeting was announced in The Bulletin). Wetstein also noted that money and by-law changes are obtained at Annual Town Meetings; therefore, people need to rally support for attendance at these meetings.
The word is out—now let’s garner the support.