Cicilline Statement on House Passage of Government Funding Bills

Jul 29, 2021 Issues: Education, Energy, Environment, Fiscal Responsibility, Health Care, Housing, Jobs and the Economy, Seniors, Veterans, Women's Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 4502, the Fiscal Year 2022 Seven-Bill Appropriations package. The seven appropriations bills: Labor-HHS-Education; Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior-Environment; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Transportation-HUD includes more the $9 million for nine Community Funding Projects in Rhode Island Cicilline submitted to the Appropriations Committee in April. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“This bill is an investment in our country’s future. From protecting the environment, to honoring our veterans, to investing in our schools, this seven-bill package will ensure that the United States is moving in the right direction. The bill also includes more than $9 million in funds for nine Community Funding Projects in Rhode Island. These projects will help create good-paying jobs for Rhode Islanders, while making our communities more resilient”

This year, the House Appropriations Committee accepted up to ten funding requests – formally called Community Funding Project Requests (CFPs) – from House members for important projects in their Congressional Districts. Cicilline worked closely with the cities, towns, and nonprofits in Rhode Island, which recommended eligible priority projects. All ten projects submitted by Rep. Cicilline were approved by the Appropriations Committee. Cicilline’s tenth project will be considered when the House of Representatives votes on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill at a later date.

Cicilline secured the following investments through the House’s Community Project Funding initiative that allows Members to request money be appropriated for specific projects in their districts:

Project Name: Bristol Senior Center Facility Rehabilitation Project
Recipient: Town of Bristol
Project Location: 260 High Street, Bristol, RI 02809
Funding Level: $695,491
Project Description and Justification: This funding will be used to support the design and full rehabilitation of the decommissioned Walley School to convert it into a municipal senior services facility. An estimated 30 percent of Bristol residents age 65 and older have an annual household income below $20,000, with 9 percent below the federal poverty line. Funding for this project will help the Town of Bristol effectively coordinate local senior service activities and respond to the rapidly changing needs of Bristol’s senior population.

Project Name: Diamond Hill Pavilion Construction Project
Recipient: Town of Cumberland
Project Location: Diamond Hill Park, 4125 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI 02864
Funding Level: $400,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding would allow for the adaptive reuse of an old and functionally obsolete former ski lodge in the Town of Cumberland’s Diamond Hill Park into a new, repurposed 2,500 square foot community center that creates linkages and connectivity to athletic fields, hiking trails, cultural performances and concerts, and public meeting spaces. The new Diamond Hill Pavilion (DHP) will be ADA accessible to ensure ease of use for seniors and the public and would offer the latest in energy and water efficiency and green improvements. The DHP will also allow the Cumberland EMA to perform COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccinations and health care screenings, while also providing seniors and other residents with Wi-Fi connectivity for telehealth access to primary and behavioral healthcare providers. The DHP will also be a centralized site for the Town to provide access to rent assistance, nutrition, and other human services. In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, this project will help increase access to vital community services and recreational opportunities for all residents of Cumberland.

Project Name: East Providence Workforce Training Program
Recipient: City of East Providence
Project Location: Coursework and certification programs provided through this project will be delivered in-person, online and in hybrid format through Roger Williams University’s – University College (RWUC), 1 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903.
Funding Level: $350,000
Project Description and Justification: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, unemployment nearly doubled within the Providence-Warwick MSA in the past year. Approximately one in five respondents in a recent East Providence community survey indicated they were unemployed as of this past December. While the pandemic impacted all sectors of the job market, Federal Reserve data shows employment declines in 2020 were most prominent amongst low-wage workers. Funding for the East Providence Workforce Training Program would support workforce and professional development opportunities for approximately 530 low-to-moderate income East Providence adult residents. Program participants would enroll in certification coursework through RWU, geared towards improving employment opportunities by cultivating industry-specific, computer, and leadership skills.

Project Name: East Smithfield Neighborhood Center
Recipient: Town of Smithfield
Project Location: 7 Esmond Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
Funding Level: $295,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding will support Phase I renovation of the East Smithfield Neighborhood Center. The Center is situated between two affordable housing complexes for senior populations, and within an area designated as a Health Equity Zone by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The physical improvements in the Phase I renovation will address issues identified as part of the Town of Smithfield’s lengthy comprehensive planning process and will incorporate COVID-19 public health design considerations. Renovations will include insulation, window and door replacement, siding, roof replacement, upgrades to existing bathrooms to provide ADA accessibility, updating all interior finishes and coatings, and all new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. The renovation will permit the Town to provide and expand COVID-19 related services to their senior population and vulnerable residents and families. The facility will also offer health screenings, influenza vaccinations, access to telehealth to improve connectivity to health care services, and an expanded food pantry to address an increase in food insecurity among area residents. The renovated space will be an investment intended to decrease health disparities and improve connectivity to health care services and programming space for seniors and Town residents.

Project Name: Narragansett Avenue Water Main Rehabilitation
Recipient: City of Newport
Project Location: Narragansett Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, between Annandale Road and Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
Funding Level: $1,520,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding would support the rehabilitation of approximately 1,700 feet of the twenty-inch cast iron transmission main located in Narragansett Avenue, between Bellevue Avenue and Annandale Road in Newport, RI. The eighty-year-old main, which transmits drinking water to the southern end of the City, would be cleaned and lined. Additionally, all valves, hydrants, and individual water services will be replaced along the route. The City of Newport and its residents are serviced by the Newport Water Division (NWD), which operates and manages the source water reservoirs, treatment plants, storage tanks, and distribution system throughout Newport. The NWD has developed a long-term infrastructure replacement and planning program in order to continue its mission of providing high-quality drinking water to its customers. As part of this plan, NWD has identified the rehabilitation and replacement of transmission pipes, those greater than twenty inches in diameter, as a priority because the failure of these mains would result in significant impacts to water supply and pressure on the entire distribution system. The transmission main in Narragansett Avenue falls into this priority category for rehabilitation, as it is a conduit for distributing water to the southern portion of Newport. In February 2021, a transmission main failure occurred, which resulted in a drop in pressure and led to a cautionary boil water advisory. This investment would help prevent future service interruptions for City residents while ensuring access to high-quality water.

Project Name: Purgatory Road Sidewalks
Recipient: Town of Middletown
Project Location: Purgatory Road, Middletown, RI 02842
Funding Level: $960,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding will support the reconfiguration of Purgatory Road to provide ten-foot vehicle travel lanes, four-foot shoulders, and one five-foot sidewalk on the southern side of the roadway. Purgatory Road connects two heavily used beaches on Aquidneck Island and serves as a pedestrian artery to the Atlantic Beach District commercial area. Currently, the roadway contains a narrow shoulder and limited areas for pedestrians and bicycles, despite its heavy foot traffic from densely settled surrounding neighborhoods and the nearby commercial district. The proposed enhancements would provide access to the beaches and coastal rights-of-way for Middletown residents and visitors. These upgrades would include safety benefits for pedestrians and cyclists, environmental benefits through the encouragement of less vehicle use, and economic benefits from increased foot traffic in the Atlantic Beach District commercial area. Further, the sidewalks and crossing would all be ADA compliant, enhancing mobility for all.

Project Name: Ralph J. Holden Senior and Community Center Construction Project
Recipient: City of Central Falls
Project Location: 280 Rand Street, Central Falls, RI 02863
Funding Level: $2,000,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding will support construction of the Ralph J. Holden Community Center. Central Falls has only 3 percent green space, is the 27th most densely populated community in the country, and the Ralph J. Holden Community Center, which for decades was the City’s one-stop location for recreational, community gathering, and social interaction opportunities for all ages, has been closed since 2011. A commission formed by the City to plan for the reopening of the Community Center confirmed that Central Falls residents are united in the dramatic need for access to indoor public recreation programs and facilities to adequately serve the social, recreational, cultural, and educational demands of all residents. The Commission’s study incorporated an extensive public input process and reflects public feedback and strong support of the vision for a new community center. The project will provide a new community space, which will include a senior center, full gymnasium, fitness facilities, large community hall with kitchen, teen room, meeting rooms, and classrooms.

Project Name: Roger Williams Park Broad Street Gateway
Recipient: Providence Redevelopment Agency
Project Location: 1197 Broad Street Providence, Rhode Island 02905
Funding Level: $700,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding promotes the ongoing redevelopment of Providence’s Broad Street Corridor by transforming three blighted adjacent lots in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood into a modern, green, and energy-efficient, multi-purpose center to welcome visitors to the City’s iconic Roger Williams Park and surrounding community. This funding will support development of a 1,700 square foot Visitor’s Center and a 32,000 square foot gateway canopy within a recreational plaza and park. The Gateway project has gained the enthusiastic support of community partners and neighborhood organizations. The Welcome Center will become an entryway from Broad Street to the Park’s recreational opportunities, improving green access for visitors and livability for residents in Washington Park and surrounding neighborhoods of Upper and Lower South Providence, Elmwood, and South Elmwood. The project will activate a clear connection for residents to one of Providence’s most significant public green spaces. Public amenities include restrooms, bike share, and eating/play areas for long-term stay or passive experiences. The project will also benefit nearby commercial areas and small businesses located along the corridor connecting to the Gateway’s increased foot and bicycle traffic.

Project Name: Veterans Memorial Park Pool Renovation
Recipient: City of Pawtucket
Project Location: Fairlawn Veterans Memorial Park, 271 Smithfield Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860
Funding Level: $2,300,000
Project Description and Justification: This funding will bring a state-of-the-art recreational water facility to Pawtucket residents who may not otherwise have access to a pool, or the ability to enroll their children in summer programs or travel to the beach. As part of an effort to increase equity and improve access to recreational opportunities for all residents of Pawtucket, particularly the 20 percent of families without a personal vehicle for travel, the proposed pool renovation project would be a vital step in properly addressing the needs of residents. Fairlawn Veterans Memorial Park is one of the largest recreational spaces on the west side of the City of Pawtucket. The site is the location of a free food service program for school-aged children and provides several recreational programming opportunities for City youth. The proposed project will include the complete renovation of the current Veterans Memorial Park Pool and the addition of an adjacent splash pad that will be beneficial for those children not old enough to swim. The combination of water features will allow for families and children of all ages to enjoy this expanded recreational amenity.