EAST PROVIDENCE — On the exact one-year anniversary of taking office, East Providence City Council President Jim Briden took time out of a recent meeting of the body to reflect upon the year that was in city.
Mr. Briden, the city’s mayor and representative from Ward 1, did so at the Council’s December 3 meeting, claiming “2013 has been a really good year for the City of East Providence.”
The city, he continued, emerged from state oversight with an improved bond rating from the two most frequently quoted agencies, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, and much improved financial footing. East Providence ended Fiscal Year 2012-13 with an $8 million-plus surplus and having secured new, viable long-term contracts with much of its unionized workforce.
Mr. Briden referenced the $60 million in asset forfeiture money the city collected from the federal government’s prescription drug lawsuit against Google. Over $49 million those dollars, earned through the efforts of the East Providence Police Department during the investigation, was eventually cleared by the United State Justice Department for use to help offset the gaping hole in the city’s pension obligation to its law enforcement officers. That single development alone, but also coupled with the work done by the Budget Commission, sent the city on a path towards the type of fiscal stability expect by the agencies.
Mr. Briden called the $50-plus million dollar “Tockwotten on the Waterfront” eldercare facility, which opened earlier this calendar year, “a beautiful building and a great operation.” Tockwotten is expected to be an anchor to future development on the city’s shoreline.
Mr. Briden also spoke of the CME Energy and Hecate Energy-backed solar power field built at the site of the city’s former landfill off Forbes Street.
Calling it the “highlight” of the year for East Providence, Mr. Briden recognized Eaton Aerospace’s addition to the city. He noted the some 200 high-paying manufacturing jobs the company brought to East Providence from Warwick and its investment in the community, donating about $100,000 to refurbishing the Oldham Elementary School at the site of the former Meadowcrest Learning Center.
“Over the course of the year we’ve seen one great project after the next happen in the city,” Mr. Briden added.
The Council President also acknowledged some smaller scale accomplishments, including the reestablishment of live-streaming of Council meetings, improvement of the city’s website and needed repairs at the Crescent Park/Looff Carousel.