Letter: East Providence Comprehensive Plan should consider children

Posted 4/8/21

To the editor:As you may have heard by now — the City is undergoing planning process to draft its new “Comprehensive Plan.” A city’s “Comprehensive Plan” is the …

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Letter: East Providence Comprehensive Plan should consider children


To the editor:
As you may have heard by now — the City is undergoing planning process to draft its new “Comprehensive Plan.” A city’s “Comprehensive Plan” is the most important land-use planning document as it provides the framework for all future land-use planning decisions for the next 20 years to come.

As a parent when I think of the next 20 years I am thinking about my son’s formative years. I imagine him learning teamwork and sportsmanship when he joins the Riverside Little League team, I can imagine him riding his bike down the bike path with his friends to Dairy Bee or taking his first date to a new ice skating rink at the Carousel.

While adults in the City work together toward creating this important document, it is crucial for us to remember that this city is also where our children live and grow. Children make up nearly 20% of East Providence’s population. This number is just as large as those 65 and older however local politics and decision-making does not always reflect that. I implore all parents, grandparents and Townies concerned with the well-being of our children to reach out and speak up for children in this Comprehensive Planning process because they will have no voice if you do not.

There are many land use planning goals that have a direct effect on the child-friendliness of a city: Supporting green spaces and parks; traffic calming measures; complete streets that offer sidewalks, bike lanes and transit; beautifying public spaces; environmental innovations that keep our air and water clean; walkable areas; and increasing “middle housing.”

These are all important indicators of family-friendly city planning and these are the areas we need to impress upon the city to prioritize, improve upon, and strive for.

As the City of East Providence endeavors to update its Plan, it has had several initiatives to get the word out and obtain feedback from residents. Most recently the Planning and Economic Department has created Ward Workshops to facilitate community discussions about the Plan. These take place virtually on Thursday nights in April and you need to register on the City’s website.

This is my call to action for all parents and grandparents —I know we are all busy and exhausted tending to and caring for little ones day to day, but let us take time to make sure the city is including children and family-friendly planning in this important conversation.

Sarah Smalley

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