Newport This Week

Dorms or Hotels at Salve?

To the Editor:

This letter is our opinion, one that we have after living on Ruggles Avenue for more than 40 years. Our home is nestled between the 204 Ruggles dorm and the Stoneacre dorm, west of Wetmore Avenue.

Salve Regina wants to add two monstrous dorms to this historic district with exits onto Ruggles.

Our concerns revolve mostly around traffic and safety.

As for traffic, Ruggles Avenue east of Bellevue is a residential area, one already burdened with disproportionate traffic to this small area. It is the narrowest and most popular street south of Narragansett Avenue.

RIPTA buses and trolleys run a 12-hour day route up and down Ruggles, creating a steady flow of traffic.

Sightseeing buses, trolleys and vehicles bring 800,000 tourists a year to visit The Breakers.

There are 1.3 million tourists who walk the Cliff Walk and venture into the Ochre Point/ Ruggles neighborhood. Add to that the other pedestrians, joggers, scooters, bikers, runners and surfers.

The dorm proposal could add another 400 students and their vehicles to the 400 students already living on Ruggles with vehicles.

Furthermore, the safety of the students living on Ruggles is a concern due to the lack of sidewalks, especially outside the five dorms west of Wetmore Avenue. These dorms have a 31 to 36-inch-wide grass/gravel sidewalk and outside Wallace dorm there is only a ditch for a sidewalk. The only option is to walk in the street. The sidewalk on the south side is less than 20 inches wide and unavailable for walking due to the overgrown bushes. Plus, the travel lane is only 10 feet wide for all traffic.

Thankfully, on the east of Wetmore Avenue on Ruggles there are large grass sidewalks protected by boulders and the travel lane is 12 feet wide for all traffic.

The public is allowed to wander day or night through the residential property these students live in. Salve said that it “wants the public to feel welcome.”

Salve pays no property taxes to the city or the state, yet the university rents all the dorms out every summer, and not to students. Are the dorms registered as guest rooms? President Armstrong said at the last Zoning Board meeting that “she could not commit to whether Salve will rent these new dorms out in the summer or not.” So, we might have “Hotel Salve I and II” in a residential, historic landmark district. Will they be registered as guest rooms? Will it be nontaxable for the guests?

The destruction of natural beauty in this historic district is greater than us, it is greater than money. Isn’t the beauty of our city and districts one of the main reasons people come to Newport?

Marilyn and Joe Hall Newport

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