EAST PROVIDENCE — At any other East Providence City Council meeting, a resolution seeking to rename Rose Larisa Memorial Park in the Riverside section would be front and center. It just so happens to likely be item 1A on a Council agenda for its meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 5, that also includes a resolution on the job status of City Manager Peter Graczykowski.
Ward 3 Councilman Thomas Rose submitted the park resolution, which reads “residents of the City of East Providence have requested that the name, in honor of those five (5) local citizens and a dedicated volunteer who rescued this property and carousel, be returned to its original name, Crescent Park.”
The resolution also references “a dedicated group of five local residents, Gail Durfee, Jobelle (Tracy) Aguiar, Richard Lund, Linda McEntee, Robin Peacock to include a dedicated volunteer Rose Larisa rescued the Crescent Park Looff Carousel from being sold” as well “the Crescent Park Looff Carousel has been fully restored and continues to operate each season with the assistance of the loyal Edward Serowik, Sr.”
Mrs. Larisa, who passed away in 1999, was honored posthumously with the naming of the parcel abutting the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay by the then City Council in 2002. Her son, Joseph Larisa, was Council president at the time.
According to the minutes from the Jan. 9, 2002 Council meeting, the decision to rename the 10.6-acre parcel was passed on a 4-1 vote, Mr. Larisa joined in the affirmative by Councilmen Norman Miranda, Peter Midgley and Patrick Rogers. Only Councilman Rolland Grant voted against the resolution.
The original resolution singled out Mrs. Larisa as being “instrumental in saving the land and beach adjacent to the Crescent Park Looff Carousel… which overlooks Narragansett Bay, from a planned condominium and housing development.”
Supporting documents from the record of the the Jan. 9, 2002 Council meeting included a letter penned by one those people Mr. Rose recognizes in his current resolution, Gail Durfee. Ms. Durfee, at the time, penned a piece of correspondence to Mr. Larisa, backing the proposal to rename what she referred to as “Bayside Park” to Rose Larisa Park.
A portion of Ms. Durfee’s letter read, “it is my understanding that you (Mr. Larisa) would like the land on the west or bay side of the property that the city recently acquired from Picerne Properties, and the land set aside for public use in the consent judgment dedicated in memory of your Mother and my close friend, Rose Larisa, and renamed ‘The Rose Larisa Memorial Park.’ I think that would be a wonderful tribute to Rose, a person who worked very hard to not only save the carousel and a portion of the land, but who continued on to try and save all of our valuable waterfront property for the people of our city to enjoy.”