2017-11-30 / Opinion


Salve Is a Good Neighbor

To the Editor:

Salve Regina University plans to bring the junior class students who now live in houses throughout the city onto what is referred to as the “campus.” Laurence and Judy Cutler’s argument against this proposal claims that this would increase the traffic on the neighborhood’s streets. Shepard and Victoria avenues abut their National Museum of Illustration and both lead directly to The Breakers.

A year ago the Newport Mansions Preservation Society touted that “More than 400,000 people visit The Breakers from around the world annually.” Compare that figure with the 400 students that will be housed in the two proposed dorms.

The university’s plan will eliminate the students’ need to drive back and forth to classes and activities, sometimes several times a day. Students with cars will be assigned one parking lot and will be restricted from driving to classes around the campus. It stands to reason that traffic will decrease, in addition to other benefits from more students residing on site.

Years ago, the university was the first in the state to partner with RIPTA and provide Salve students full access to public transportation in Newport and throughout the state, an investment that has had great outcomes for all.

Now, at a yearly cost of nearly $140,000, all students, faculty, staff, food service and housekeeping employees are included in the program with RIPTA. By keeping the trolley service alive all year, residents, workers and visitors benefit from this initiative as well.

Salve’s leadership deserves praise and thanks for tackling the difficult problem of traffic and parking in the residential zone that the university shares with the businesses of the preservation society and the Cutlers’ museum as well as with the last-but-not-least tax-paying residents.

Must Salve remain alone in being a good neighbor with its efforts to reduce the negative impact that too many vehicles have on the quality of life in the area? Shouldn’t the city impose measures that will reduce the influx of too many visitor cars and buses in the Ochre Point and South End neighborhoods?

Lisette Prince

Plan to Attend Critical Meeting

To the Editor:

On Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall there will be a Planning Board meeting and then the following evening, Dec. 5, an Historic District Commission hearing to consider Salve Regina University’s proposal to build two massive 200 student dormitories and three parking lots squarely in the heart of Newport’s National Historic District.

Salve Regina proposes to concentrate these new, modern buildings on Victoria Avenue, Shepherd and Ruggles.

It should also be noted that this proposal includes parking for an additional 267 cars. Not only will this change this historic landscape, these additional cars will be using the same narrow streets now used by residents and visitors to our city. This will significantly add to the traffic.

The City of Newport needs to have an overview of all that is being considered by Salve. A major proposal such as this will impact all Newporters,. Every effort must be made to respond to concerns and mitigate the negative impact this proposal brings. If there were a Master Plan for Salve’s Campus improvements, other ideas and solutions could rise to the surface and be considered.

Newporters, please plan to attend this critical meeting and hear what Salve is saying. There are alternatives. Salve must reconsider their plans to concentrate 410 students within this neighborhood.

Great universities are not built by simply adding more modern dormitories that will increase their own income.

Andy Segal

Where Does the Money Go?

To the Editor:

I miss Benny’s. The pending loss of everybody’s favorite store has strengthened my resolve to buy local and shop small. The truth is, there are so many great local stores that have stood the test of time, and with new ones starting every day; we have pretty incredible local options in Rhode Island.

Shopping at local stores and restaurants can pay off in a big way. This is money that Rhode Islanders are already spending and the benefits can be impressive as dollars-spent circulate through our local economy. In fact, a Rhode Island Foundation study determined that shifting just 10 percent of the purchasing that Rhode Island shoppers do from chains to independent, locally owned businesses has the potential to add $373 million to the state’s economy. The study estimated that 57 percent of spending with locally owned retailers stays in the state’s economy compared to just 13.6 percent of spending at major national chains.

And there’s just something about seeing your neighbor, cousin, or high school classmate at a local shop that feels right, and oh, so Rhode Island.

My plan is to show more Rhode Island pride this holiday season, and throughout the year ahead, by buying local whenever possible. I hope you’ll join me.

Jessica David

Proposed Salve Dormitories to Have Negative Impact

To the Editor:

Salve’s plan to construct two new dormitories and three additional parking lots within our National Historic District neighborhood will clearly hurt both taxpaying private landowners as well as tourism to Newport’s No. 1 tourist attraction, The Breakers, which brings great support to all of Newport. Salve’s proposal includes space for 400 students and 267 cars, the construction of which will violate our beautiful historic landscape.

The biggest issue is that Salve Regina University should not be allowed to add these huge dormitories along primary traffic and pedestrian routes in this national historic district of Newport! Both Victoria and Shepard avenues are the primary tourist routes to reach The Breakers, and run right through the proposed area for the dorms. In a self-serving quest to increase their own monetary gains, the development of these dorms will only increase Salve's income at the expense of taxpaying Newporters. It is taking unfair advantage of an historic and collaborative community where we should all be looking out for each other. This private university should not be allowed to destroy one of the most highly-ranked national historic districts in all of New England. Great universities are not built from destroying significant historic properties while flooding money into their coffers through newly devised income-producing housing. Students must be educated to respect history and historic districts as a first step.

There are additional issues in Salve’s proposal that remain unaddressed, and which we intend to bring to the table at the special Historic District Commission (HDC) hearing to be held on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 4 and 5 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. Salve’s plans as they now stand beckon disaster for this Gilded Age neighborhood. All Newporters must be guardians of the very desirable qualities that bring tourists to Newport and not let this university take advantage of the largess that the Historic District community has provided for Salve since its founding. This community has given to Salve's survival for over 80 years and the school should reconsider the construction of these residential buildings that will be in constantly changing hands with seasonal students and renters.

If there were a master plan for Salve’s campus improvements, other ideas and solutions could rise to the surface and be considered. Any decisions that greatly affect the neighbors and the neighborhood itself should have the benefit of neighborhood input. However, to date we have not been shown Salve's master plan. A master plan is imperative to give an overview of all that is being considered by Salve Regina University, residential impact, environmental impact, traffic impact, etc. A master plan would reflect all the aspects of related elements in the projects envisaged by Salve Regina and its impact on our neighbors forevermore.

Please, neighbors, we implore you to maintain your integrity and proclaim that what Salve is planning is a serious violation of the neighborhood. Salve should be asked by all Newport residents, property owners, the HDC, and the zoning commissioners to reconsider concentrating 400 additional students and their vehicles within this single-family residential area in such a beautiful Gilded Age residential neighborhood with mature trees and grassy fields amongst significantly historic buildings and landscapes.

Please join us at the next planning board hearing on Dec. 4 and the next night, the HDC hearing on Dec. 5, both at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Laurence and Judy Cutler

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