The Bartholomewtown Podcast Podcast Artwork Image
The Bartholomewtown Podcast
Don Grebien (Mayor, Pawtucket, RI)
February 08, 2019 Bill Bartholomew / Don Grebien
The Bartholomewtown Podcast

Don Grebien (Mayor, Pawtucket, RI)

February 08, 2019

Bill Bartholomew / Don Grebien

The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island sits in the northern portion of the state on the Massachusetts border, ostensibly serving as transition point between the urban Providence-metro area and rural Northwest, Rhode Island.  


The city has a storied history, often connected to the Blackstone River, which flows mightily through Pawtucket, once powering Samuel Slater and other’s Industrial Revolution.


But in recent months, Pawtucket has seemingly been dealt a series of unfortunate industrial and economic development blows, none more prominent than the Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate, currently and historically known as the PawSox, announcing their departure from the city to Worcester, Massachusetts, after a years-long battle between local, state and team leaders over a new stadium agreement finally came to a head.


In the teeth of the PawSox fiasco was Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, who proved himself to be a champion for his City in his attempts to collectively organize a solution to keep the team in Pawtucket.  


Although he was ultimately unsuccessful in constructing such a deal, and Pawtucket still faces other concerning economic development issues, during our conversation that you will hear in a matter of moments, Mayor Grebien presented an optimistic, if not excited perspective, sharing ideas that hinted that Pawtucket may well be positioning itself to be once again be a city of innovation, in areas ranging from housing, healthcare infrastructure, business relations and community development approaches. 


It was always clear to me that Don Grebien loved his City, and hearing his backstory only further cemented that notion to me.


Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or visit bartholomewtown.com or RIpodcast.com

Follow me on Twitter
@billbartholomew and Instagram @bartholomewtownpodcast

Follow Mayor Grebien on Twitter
@DonGrebien

The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island sits in the northern portion of the state on the Massachusetts border, ostensibly serving as transition point between the urban Providence-metro area and rural Northwest, Rhode Island.  


The city has a storied history, often connected to the Blackstone River, which flows mightily through Pawtucket, once powering Samuel Slater and other’s Industrial Revolution.


But in recent months, Pawtucket has seemingly been dealt a series of unfortunate industrial and economic development blows, none more prominent than the Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate, currently and historically known as the PawSox, announcing their departure from the city to Worcester, Massachusetts, after a years-long battle between local, state and team leaders over a new stadium agreement finally came to a head.


In the teeth of the PawSox fiasco was Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, who proved himself to be a champion for his City in his attempts to collectively organize a solution to keep the team in Pawtucket.  


Although he was ultimately unsuccessful in constructing such a deal, and Pawtucket still faces other concerning economic development issues, during our conversation that you will hear in a matter of moments, Mayor Grebien presented an optimistic, if not excited perspective, sharing ideas that hinted that Pawtucket may well be positioning itself to be once again be a city of innovation, in areas ranging from housing, healthcare infrastructure, business relations and community development approaches. 


It was always clear to me that Don Grebien loved his City, and hearing his backstory only further cemented that notion to me.


Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or visit bartholomewtown.com or RIpodcast.com

Follow me on Twitter
@billbartholomew and Instagram @bartholomewtownpodcast

Follow Mayor Grebien on Twitter
@DonGrebien

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:00Support the Bartholomew town podcast by subscribing, rating, and reviewing us on apple podcasts

Speaker 2:0:09visits the by telling your town.

Speaker 3:0:13Welcome in to another edition of the Bartholomew town podcast. I'm your host, Bill Bartholomew. On today's episode, I sit down with patucket, Rhode Island's mayor, Don Grevina,

Speaker 1:0:26the city of Patucket, Rhode Island's sits in the northern portion of the state on the Massachusetts border, ostensibly serving as a transition point between the urban providence metro area and the rural northwest region. The city has a storied history, often connected to the blackstone river, which flows mightily through patucket, once powering Samuel slater and others, industrial revolutions, but in recent months, but it has seemingly been Delta series of unfortunate industrial and economic development blows none more prominent than the Boston Red Sox aaa affiliate currently and historically known as the paw sox announcing their departure from the city to Worcester, Massachusetts. Following a years long battle between local state and team leaders over a new stadium agreement in the teeth of the pos socks fiasco was patucket. Mayor Don, grab Ian, who proved himself to be a champion for city in his attempts to collectively organize a solution to keep the team in patucket, although he was ultimately unsuccessful in constructing such a deal and Potomac.

Speaker 1:1:32It's still faces other concerning economic development issues during our conversation that you will hear in a matter of moments, mayor grabby and presented an optimistic, if not excited, perspective sharing ideas that hinted that patucket may well be positioning itself to once again be a city of innovation in areas ranging from housing, healthcare, infrastructure, business relations, and community development approaches. It was always clear to me that don grabby and loved the city and hearing his backstory only further cemented. That notion to me stay up to date on all the latest bartholomew town podcasts, programming and events. Of course, they'll have new episodes of the pod for you each and every Tuesday and Friday, but there's also all kinds of other stuff going on like our Elmwood songwriters club right here at the loft on February 16th. Follow me on instagram at Bartholomew town podcast. Okay. Then looking forward to this one for a minute. From the loft in Providence, but tuck it, mayor Don [inaudible].

Speaker 3:2:37Bill, thank you for having me. Great to be here. So, and it's nice to get out of patucket once in a while too. So it's great to be here. We're cutting it up and Tuck it. Esque building right now. So we're just talking about that. It's a beautiful building, you know, this is the type of space then everybody's looking for in today's world. I laughed and we were talking about the age difference a little bit, but it's great space and I appreciate you taking the time and allowing me to be here and have me Lto and people, uh, do you listen to. So thank you. I'd say honestly two things right now is one, my wife keeps me grounded. She keeps me in line, right in the sodas, a family and my. But growing up I just like everybody else. You know what I mean?

Speaker 3:3:10I grew up, I grew up, my mom and dad were divorced at a young age, so we always fought our way through it, you know, and nothing has been handled as you earn it and then you respect everybody and it's hard. We were talking about that with the Times it's hot, but, you know, in today's times to respect people, but it's really respectful and I appreciate those kind words and it's me, you know, I tell him, but I put my pants on the same way everybody does. Right. And uh, so I'm no different anybody else and you keep that, you know, that humbleness if you can. And worked in a factory myself. So I get that grassroots stuff and never forget where you came from. Absolutely. So what is your backstory? How'd you become, are so quick story? You're. Tell me when I'm going too long.

Speaker 3:3:46Is Born and raised in patucket? Uh, my mom and dad, like I said, young age, uh, my teenagers, they got divorced and they went their separate ways and both great parents. Both good was my dad passed away a year or so ago. My mom still with us and grew up in patucket and you know, as a young kid, uh, you know, went to the Pataki schools, uh, you know, did grammar school and Nathaniel Green went to slate a junior high school and at that high school level I knew that, um, uh, Korea was more of what I want it to be. And so didn't go to the high school, which I should have gone to. I went to a trade school, I went to Davies Vocational Votech, wanted to do culinary and went my path on culinary. But as a young kid got involved in politics with passing out pamphlets, you know, having the pizza parties.

Speaker 3:4:30Right. You know, getting involved and realized that I really like people. I try to be as respectful as I can. Don't get me wrong, Bill, you have a day or two, you know, and my wife gets me back in line like we all do. But really respecting people and understanding that building those relationships, um, is important. And I liked the aspect of the campaign. I liked being the door to door, you know, passing out. And again, as a young kid, so I knew that was where I think I've learned, you know, that where my experience came from, like I said, you know, went onto Davies, then went on to CCRI later on and, and met my wife, Laurene and we have two beautiful children. I was saying to you, my daughter Alexa is 19 and our son connor is a 17 cognizant toleman in Alexa to CCRI now and you know, met my wife at to catering, you know, hard work.

Speaker 3:5:17We both worked for a catering company in the food business, you know, and I'm sure you are well aware we were talking about, you know, you do what you have to do to get along and it's tough. And so, uh, you know, kept meeting people, understanding that it was great to be involved. They'll. Caden was a local catering company, did a lot of things around but tuck it so I never left and building those relationships and you know, so somewhere in that point, you know, my drive was, is that I wanted to make the place, the city I should say better than what we came from. I wanted to, no one that I struggled. Do you want to make it easier for your children and others. And I liked the people pot, so I moved on and got involved a ran for, was appointed, I should say first on award committee in the city of etiquette.

Speaker 3:6:00I'm the fifth ward where I was renting my first apartment and um, then got involved, ran for reelection. I ran on the ward committee because I was appointed a vacancy and then elected and uh, you know, kept involved, enjoyed it, got to know people and build the relationship. And there is an energy that comes from working with people right. There is that life and that excitement from um, you know, a campaign as well as doing the job. Ran for council, uh, early nineties. Uh, and um, uh, mid nineties I should say, and I lost my first election of the special council election involved into woodlawn section of patucket. Was very involved with the little leagues, the, uh, we had some of the Cape Verdean groups to the Portuguese groups, community centers and those type of things very involved. And I enjoyed that. I enjoy the people, pop a kept involved, um, ended up running in a early two thousands, uh, to, for council at Lodge and there was an open seat ran.

Speaker 3:6:59I was elected, uh, served on the Council for 11 years. Uh, was elected two years, a two year cycle in patucket and a love again, serving the people, uh, had the, you know, the bug and the stomach who will have the aspirations want to be mayor I'm in and the reason I want to be married, I had a young family, I worked for American insulated wire at the time. I get out of food service and uh, went into private industry and started out like everybody else in the warehouse. Work my way up, uh, uh, not only through my education but also through my work ethic at the company. And uh, ended up working for the, uh, supply chain manager of being an assistant was warehouse manager, a distribution manager and you know, got to see a lot of the country and involve in American state of wow is a local business.

Speaker 3:7:47So, you know, doing that and you know, kept involved in the opportunity to became that. I was served 11 years on the council. I had served two years as council president and we were going through a lot. It was the recession at the time and a lot of the things that are happening in government, um, we're not the same things have happen in private industry and private industry, you know, I could, you know, myself included, were taken furlough days and we were having to cuts and we're doing everything we can, you know, we're paying off a medical and w and then serving on the council. There was a lot of the, still the continuing continuation of a, if, you know, great percentages and increases, you know, budget increases, tax increases and going into what they felt was needed at the time. But I just wasn't comfortable with that knowing.

Speaker 3:8:32And I always call it the real world versus the government. Um, so I ran against me at doyle who has since passed away. God rest his soul. A great, great man. You know, kid about our community was involved in our community. But we're to always say at two ends of the pendulum, you know, he was at his back nine, I was at my front nine. And you know, as a young kid, you think you know everything right, and you know, you're doing those things. So ran a ran as an independent for many different reasons and um, you know, but an independent Democrat and ran against him in a, in a presidential election, came very close within 1100 votes of the, you know, uh, at the time was probably like 17,000 voters. Uh, so it was a good selection. And uh, you know, I stayed involved and I knew I was gonna run again, you know, I was enough to keep me involved and know that I had the opportunity.

Speaker 3:9:20And two years later, a middle, uh, I'm a retired then that was 2010, uh, ran again against the city council president at the time. I had been out for two years, you know, not on the city council ran. And uh, fortunately I've been, just was reluctant to my fifth term this past November. And so enjoying the job. I said, so that's the history of it, um, you know, having served on the council, I think it gave me a lot of balance and having the private industry and background gave me that um, you know, there's a lot of empathy. It's its value, but it really comes down to dollars and quality of life of people. It's, you know, and I don't mean to make it sound more simple bill, but it's simple. It's, it's taking care of people that deserve and we're caught right in balance, right? Government's always going to grow and expenses, you know, just like our home budgets too.

Speaker 3:10:08But how do you balance that and how do you give back? So that's the history of how I've gotten there and I thought I was, you know, knew everything when I got there until I entered the office and went, you know, the head started spinning and you really see a and have much more respect for those that have been there before you, you know, sometimes there's a legislature, I was a part time legislator, you think, you know, you know, and what you're going through and you know, they clearly have perspective and ideas and, and important impacts in the neighborhoods. Uh, but you don't know until you sit here how many different facets you're actually dealing with, right. Especially in the municipal level where it's really, it's so humanized, you know, the distance is not there, if you will, that you get it. Even a state level, you know what I mean?

Speaker 3:10:50You're bound in liable the see your constituents on a daily basis face to face. And that's, I mean, that truly is. And I say, always go back to that. That was what drew me into, uh, the government. It was being able to help people and get to have relationships with folks. Uh, that's the part I enjoy the most. There are times, you know, when you're out with the family, sometimes is hot and somebody has an emergency or they how a situation and they have some face time with the mayor and you know, and, and I've always been open arms and respectful. It's my job, right? Um, you know, as the kids were younger, they didn't understand it. Now at the center, they're teenagers, they stopped to understand there is that importance and you know, to that person and to that individual, uh, is, it, is insignificant, is the issue may be it's a priority to them and you need to make sure that you're responding.

Speaker 3:11:37And what we've, I've always learned and tried to do is be totally honest, right? You know, try to get through the issue of this. A way that you can find a, find a common ground to solve the issue sometimes is just unreasonable expectations from folks and you can't deliver it. You need to be honest and you know, tell them, listen, I can't. Um, and so, you know, you're, you are on the ground, you know, you're in the restaurants every day or you know, in the market or you know, the neighborhood stores and people see you and it, you know, it, it is overwhelming at times, but it is, you know, there's a lot of respect, um, and, and you just got to keep your head level because you can see how others may tend to float out and inflate their personalities if you will lose that.

Speaker 3:12:20You still have to deliver, right? It's about right. It's about keeping the streets safe as you can. We know these are difficult times, you know, we're investing in our police and our fire and you know, the plowing the trash pickup. It's those quality of life issues that do matter and you know, you do your best and you bring the most qualified people in that you can bring, you know, and again, governmental jobs, especially on a local level, um, the, there are, it's costly. I mean, there is, there's a cost that comes to that. That's taxpayers' dollar. Um, you want to always remember that. So it's not, you know, it might not be your money, but treat it like it's your money and you know, it's getting those services done as much as you can, you know, the simple as zoning issue. Um, you know, there's a lot of disputes between neighbors and you try to build those relationships with folks, you know, the trees overhanging on my property and you know, the, the leaves are dropping on my car to, you know, to some of the most tragic things that we've dealt with.

Speaker 3:13:11You know, we've had, you know, we have murders in the city at times and you know, and we, you know, there's been police shootings and you know, and we talk about what happens on the national level, you know, it almost a instigates, you know, at the local level. And so, but at the end of the day, you're absolutely built. It's, you know, you are, that's where the rubber hits the road. You find there, you know, the scrutinies higher potentially in a way. You know what I mean? Of course. That on election day, yeah, everyone's on, on a fairly level playing field, if you will, in a certain sense anyway. But yeah, on the day to day basis, you know, it's a lot of work to be mayor, that's for sure. Yeah. And there's a lot, you know, there's a lot of responsibility, but you know, there's also that expectation and rightfully so, you know, we're, I always say we're a community of 72,000, you know, we're big enough to be called the city but small enough that everybody wants you at everything expects you to be there and rightfully so, you know, and because there is that responsibility that comes with the job, um, let's speak to some specific economic development issues.

Speaker 3:14:09I didn't want to spend too much time with the postdocs issue. I know it's, it's, it's come and gone, but just addressing that now, I guess in the, in the post pause socks era, what's, you know, what are your priorities? Obviously Hasbro, there's been rumors that they're going to relocate, whether it's within the state or outside the state, whatever that may be. But where are your priorities now? Because clearly it was on, on the paw sox for, for at least a good portion of the bill. There's a lot of priorities, right? And it's trying to balance who them, right. The pulse ox two seemed like there was, it was a major priority, don't get me wrong, it was about economic development and the ancillary development is going to come with that. Having said that, you know, that one became so important to everybody and so focused because of all the media hype, you know, that they were a tradition here on island, right?

Speaker 3:14:55There was the pop political perspectives that were coming into that. So it was more of a high profile, uh, you know, as a high priority. It was a priority to us. So, you know, we, we have a couple of things that we need to deal with in the city. Um, we have, you know, the, we know that they're going to be gone in 20 slash 20 that last season it playing, they're going to be in worcester, you know, as a reality check. It hurts emotionally. It hurts the fabric of the city, but everybody in the community. Did you know from our legislatures to our council, to the mayor to did the best we could to try to make it happen and it didn't happen. So now we have to move on. So we have to fill that void in that area of McCoy stadium. What does that become?

Speaker 3:15:35A, we're working with the state a RFP or request for proposal. We going out to get other uses to see what venue may fit there or it may mean a total knockdown and we build something else on that. So that is where we are. Mccoy, I'm the bigger challenges. Um, and we'll talk about priorities and second, but the bigger challenges is that last that we had from the ancillary development and that critical mass that would have generated in a new ballpark in our downtown. And that's what our downtown needs is, you know, that, that critical mass. We've got some great folks like we were talking about the space here. Uh, we have our old mill buildings, but you know, patucket lacks that critical mass. We can't support enough of the restaurants. We have some great small restaurants, but we don't create that entertainment aspect, if you will, right.

Speaker 3:16:21That destination. And that's what we're trying to do with that. So that's a big focus. Um, you know, now the focus is, uh, you know, the apex property on economic development, you know, is privately owned. What becomes of that now where it has been a vacant for almost vacant for years. Right. We all understand that. That's a big attraction is a gateway project for us, a property. What is that? And we're trying to work with the property owner, uh, you know, and you know, last year or so has been really challenging as you said, we put the memorial hospital, you know, we, we have the city and, and you know, for myself to the council and other members had no control over the closure of that. Uh, we did everything we could to fight for keeping it open for us. Then it was a fight to try to get conditions to put on it as part of the closure and what the community needs.

Speaker 3:17:08We're not just us, it was community that were out there. The residents, um, that clearly without this hospital, uh, there is clearly an impact on the system statewide. Um, you know, we've all seen the stories, we've heard the horror stories, you know, there's backlogs in the hospitals and the emergency rooms. Um, so one of the main focuses for us this year is to, uh, to work in and get the state on board and create a, whether you call it a mini hospital, I'm sorry, many hospitals, some of the terminologies they call them a treat and transport. But what it is, is really an emergency room, right? That our residents can be served. It might not have 100 beds, it has a few beds, uh, but we're trying to work on that. And it's very difficult because the state law prohibits certain things, right? It allows us large, big hospitals, right?

Speaker 3:17:54That are not successful or the small ones, right? That they're not successful because of number. And so you have to find a way, but at the end of the day is providing emergency services, you know, a level up if you will, a, I'd say an urgent care on steroids if you will. Yup. Other communities are doing them, they call them mini hospitals. So there's models out there. I think we as a state and as a community need to take a look at that. And the Department of Health, um, his working, they've hired a consultant. I'm Jonathan Snow is Jsi, uh, to take a look at, uh, and that was one of the conditions that was put on the reverse con in our request to take a look at what the needs are because it's all about data, right? Right. Unfortunately, it's about money and these big organizations at times, you know, look at it, the bottom line, oh, England, um, you know, they work hard.

Speaker 3:18:44I mean there are people that are up there working, but they have a model and they're trying to sell or partner with partners out of Massachusetts a sell off. So there's a bottom line that matters and it's not necessarily the community or the people at times. And you know, we've had multiple meetings and we raised those issues. And again, you know, everybody thinks that the, uh, at a macro level that we have that control. It's really a state control. So, you know, we're trying to partner with and people just say, why don't you take the gloves off mayor and punch him in the head, you know, and you need to build those relationships and keep those relationships. Otherwise it doesn't happen. So, you know, I think that, you know, the reuse of McCoy is important. It's more of a, you know, emotional tie and I think something's going to happen.

Speaker 3:19:26They have, you know, apex we've talked about because apex with our slater mill right there and the national park that will give us an opportunity, you know, for development, we've got our commuter rail coming in and that's really a big project which is in our downtown and we see the spinoff happening. So we're working with developers. I just was with an organization today and we're trying to partner in them because that's what we know. The next step of protocol, it's a history will be in bringing new people in, providing affordable live space and workspace like we talk about. Yep. So those are priorities. Uh, but the memorial hospital is a big one and then it becomes how do you move forward off of those, right? Because those are the day to day challenges. That's the stuff that takes, you know, all day and all, all our time sucks up all in the air, in the room.

Speaker 3:20:11And it's important, don't get me wrong. And so it's hard to how do you move forward, right? We have challenges. I've been there eight years now and we've just finally been able to invest in, um, in our, in our it systems, in our financial systems were going through that change, you know, we've started investing in our schools, right? We have a major problem that was identified know eight years ago. So it's trying to find that dollars and invest. We've invested in two new schools that have been renovated, would taken advantage of the governor's uh, uh, you know, uh, reimbursement and the state's reimbursement and we're focusing on that. So, but again, everybody thinks the money's there to grab. We still need to pay for it, right? It's, how do you balance trying to keep the taxes at a reasonable rate? So people can afford to live in their homes and not be priced out and do those things.

Speaker 3:20:59Then another big challenge is really overall our infrastructure. Uh, you know, we've, like I said, we're dealing with the schools. We've done analysis. We'd, we've dealt with our roads, you know, we've done an analysis, we know all the bad roads we've paved in the last five years, over 50 percent of our roads. Uh, you know, and again, it's borrowing, investing, um, you know, you're trying to do within the tax base that you have and you know, we're an urban district and we have our challenges and the, and we also have some of our old, like a fire stations that, you know, we've been been dating for 20 years. Uh, so we're trying to do those things and reinvest, but it really is the quality of life things and it's making sure that people have the feel safe in their environment. They have the right education.

Speaker 3:21:41Um, you know, we have a great superintendent in a school committee. Um, we're, you know, you see this test scores that came out. Um, you know, why the dismal at best, um, and the disappointing it's a refocus and we as a state need to do that and I think a lot of the challenges is, you know, we have 39 cities and towns and great leadership and most of the communities, um, and, but we need to understand that we should be sharing a lot of things, you know, everybody gets concerned about talking about consolidation. We consolidate a few years ago internally with the schools and with Sharon it directors with sharing human resource folks. We did what private business had to do a not, not probably enough or fast enough and, but those are the things we need to do. So it's really balancing and then how do you move the city forward.

Speaker 3:22:27And then the other piece that's really important is the community aspect of it because, you know, as I see it, and this is really challenging is with social media folks are out there and you know, people can say anything they want or you know, and do anything they want. And it disengages a lot of folks, right? It's a lot of negative. It's not really positive, so we're doing some, I say analysis, we're bringing some folks in, some consultants in to help us teach. How do we reach our constituency better? How do we engage them more? Right. So they feel that they are because they're important. Right. I get elected every two years. It, you know, they matter, they really do, but they don't feel that they matter only at election time. Right. So you're interacting with things, you know, how do you, what do you do?

Speaker 3:23:10Right. There's no right answer, there's no wrong answer. Right. But it's how do you do those things, bill? Yeah. And they'll create that dialogue that's irrespective of politics, you know, it's just that pride for me. But talk is such a beautiful typography of the. You've got the river and it's this wedge between the, the Northwest Rhode Island and providence and you know, you have a distinct identity and it's a no, it's just got so much history there that I think there is inherent civic pride. That's that. You know, you saw that with the paw sox issue, but yeah, I agree. If you could communicate that on a regular basis. I think we do the newsletters, right? We do the social media, right, but not everybody gets it. So when I'm out, you know, I go out at least six times sometimes I'll do a 12 this year. I think we're doing a six.

Speaker 3:23:57I don't want to lie to you. We hit each neighborhood. We have six districts in our community. A set off city route. I'm sorry. And uh, we do enable a mayor's night out and each one, um, last year I think we did one one that we do at least one a year, you know, so I'm out there six times, you know, the office is always open, but people don't as much as you say it is that, yes, your mayor, right? I mean, and it is hot this time, but it's really engaging people from the community and there are a lot of good things. We're investing in our pocs. And again, we were renovating our pain poc, uh, in the woodlawn section. We're doing a splash park, right? We're upgrading a lot of our facilities, so we're reinvesting in that. But there's still that apathy in a lot of ways that people, there's that expectation and they should, they have, they're investing, right?

Speaker 3:24:42They expect to have those things. But how do you engage them more, you know, and I think though, as you pointed out to this, that love for the city, you know, there's so many people that connect to our city, we need our opportunity and we're doing everything we can to fight for it. Uh, but you know, the commuter rail stop that'll happen in late 20 [inaudible] early 20, 21 that is going to be, you know, I say one of the game change. That's a big impact. Even ways that we don't know or understand, you know, we've got vacant mill properties over there under utilized. Miss Mills in that area. That commuter rail alone is going to make us, to your point, it is even connecting more to the Boston market because we're less expensive here. Even to the provenance market. You know, I was driving over here on my way to hit bill and funny.

Speaker 3:25:26I take it for granted. I'm going, our and I already dreading back heading back to Pataka, right, because the traffic is already back so that, that, that transit, um, you know, they've the governor to one of her appointments, um, you know, she has direct route vet this, she's got some good appointments and we don't always see eye to eye, but you know, he's really focused in on infrastructure, right? Roads and bridges, right? Because it's been failing the system, um, and, but I really excited about her appointment of a former mayor of Warwick, a Scott [inaudible], and to rip to know that's an important, like as we sit there and we work with rip there and working with dlt on our transit already development it, there's an into a model and that it's important. There's a connection and they get it. It's just trying to find the funds.

Speaker 3:26:13It's not something that you can just turn on a switch and it happens overnight. It's all about how do you meet the pieces, make this match. And the patucket tod central falls to God. You know, I've got a great relationship with our sister city or a brother city, uh, in central falls and you know, we understand that this commuter rail stop is gonna help economically make them a lot more viable as well as us, so you have a benefit of in the northern island to communities that are gonna benefit from it. So we see that as an opportunity, but you have, you know, and again, if you've got more question, I'm going to keep talking, but you know, you just, you've got your basic, you know, you have your zoning issues, right? You have your code issues, right? Uh, you know, there's still struggles, right?

Speaker 3:26:54You know, we, we, you know, it's always about best practices and you know, try to put them in and, and the game changes and with the technology, right? Know I'm just picking up my iphone, I'm just learning one APP and it's a no, it's already, you know, outdated by the time I understand it. Right? So we faced with those challenges, um, and, and government is its own, uh, and I mean this respectfully. It's its own beast in a way. Uh, and it's, you know, it's difficult at times and you know, you mentioned the paw socks. That's a great example, you know, is something that was so right for buttock, it's all right for the state or an island. There was so many other factors that took over, um, you know, and then you know, this, there was negative comments misinformation out there and again, and you know, the way it went, it went.

Speaker 3:27:37I mean, we're not going to change that, uh, but I didn't mention and you clicked on that as, you know, Hasbro's another one, right? Hasbro is a private business, right? This ben in patucket for years, you know, centuries and, and they were born here, right? You know, that they're part of our fabric, just like the slater mill as part of our fabric as a company. And, and I understand that coming from the private sector, they have every right to determine where they want to be and what their next move should be. Right. Um, but what we're trying to do is bring attention from the state delegation down, you know, the governor and the speaker and the Senate president engaged in, instead of trying to relocate them, let's try to work with them to bill what they need around and keep them where they are, where they're at that site or another site.

Speaker 3:28:21I think that we could do that, right? It's easy sometimes to supplant and so, but again, at the end of the day they're going to do what's right for their company and they should. But I'm trying to get them to realize and we've had multiple conversations and the great people, you know, I want to be their biggest advocate that, you know, they did everything they could and they stay right. But if they can't at least give us that opportunity. And, and so, you know, with the pulse ox leaving, is that memorial hospital. It, it looks as though we're on this donald swing and we're really not. We've cut so many of our small businesses that are successful. We've have our, we're talking about the whole artist and they're putting in, you know, we've got that wonderful workspace and there's going to be 100, I think it's 140 units of live work there.

Speaker 3:29:04And, and so we've got these exciting communities. Um, there's a lot of development happening in our old mill buildings because that's what excites people. Now we're investing in that and this commuter rail and the, into a modal connection with the raptor is going to be, you know, it's going to be a hub, it's going to be exciting and, you know, we just got to keep finding our way through. And again, you know, each community is unique and you know, providence is a capital city, so everybody wants to be, you know, around the capital city. Um, you know, in patucket is a city, uh, with great people, great bones. Um, you know, we've seen the in the years that uh, you know, previous years, but we're still a bedroom community and a lot of ways we have, you know, people have their roots there, you know, people who've owned their houses for years and care about a community and involved in our community and you try to balance the change that we need to, to make sure that our city continues to be successful without overplaying it and losing your identity,

Speaker 1:30:05right? I mean, you're talking about a place that was so far ahead of the curve at one point in time, you know, in terms of the industrial revolution, to me, and this is like, you know, basic American history, but here you are again. You know what seems like could be a, like you say, a downswing button reality, you may just be shedding some outdated business models and practices. I mean, your new small mini hospitals, you see maybe that's got telemedicine and some of the practices of future and now you're, all of a sudden you're a leader, right?

Speaker 3:30:32And that's the. And that's the crux. All right? But it all comes down to, and I hate to sound cynical, but it's all about the dollars, right? Yeah. And as we're trying to bring new business in and there's only so much to the community can do, right? I cannot put an overbearing on our taxpayers to invest in, you know, over tax them so we can invest in some things even though we need that. You can't do that. So it's that balance of getting it. So you're absolutely right. We have to, we're in the process of reinventing ourselves. Uh, we've, we've brought on, um, a commerce director, Jean Boyle, who is excellent at what she does, you know, but the last year or so was spent on the pulse ox, right? So all our energies were in that because we understood some people got frustrated and said, you know, you put all your energy in that and you let other things go.

Speaker 3:31:15We were out there working hard, right? The Gut, the attention because it was going to bring us that critical mass in our downtown because you look at study. So you know, she's great at what she does and we're meeting with business folks, we're bringing new business in, we're seeing a lot of development right now. There's a residential model building and you know, and then it's going to be a lot of opportunity with the commuter rail. So you balance that because what you don't want to do is, you know, make it where it's not affordable for folks like you and I, you know what I mean? There's gotta be that affordability, affordability. You show up, we're going to have a little bit of a higher end, right? And you're going to bring that up and it raises the bar a little bit. You just don't want to go where you're out pricing it and folks like us, you know, you think about it, you mentioned to me not, not to share with your wife, you know, being over [inaudible], right?

Speaker 3:31:58Yep. Know you want him to be able to fit that model. You want to have that flexibility, right? And you want to have that affordability. So you know, Jeannie and the planning department, they're going to be very good at what they do. And they'll balance that, but we do need a lot of support from the state. We do have, there's no doubt, you know, people call a subsidy. It's not. We really need them. The support as they've done in Providence, we always say there's a metropolitan area over here as well. So, you know, and, and they are committed.

Speaker 1:32:25Oh, that's interesting. And the day of the Worcester press conference, the infamous worcester press conference announcing that the, the, uh, the Red Sox, aaa affiliate was gone there. I happened to be on the highway and for whatever reason I just wasn't drove out to the Western hills of Cranston and just parked

Speaker 3:32:40my car there, kind of overlooking Garden City and just sat there and listened to that and thought about, that's your state right there, you know, the division of power and influence has gotten out of control where, you know, you guys and your community have, you know, you don't have the same leverage that providence does for some reason. Um, and that's just apparent to me on the outside looking in, I good on you for fighting for it. You'll get there and it's hot. And it's not, you know, and then people get frustrated and people get burnt out, but it's my job, that's what I was elected to do and we want to protect, you know, not only what we have, but we want to see, we have to talk is going to be in the future. Yeah. I have a good feeling about it. I know that the artists and music community has been super hungry on Petoskey news cafe right down there.

Speaker 3:33:20That's been a driver in terms of a night scene for awhile. I'm a brilliant positive people together. It seems like, you know, the community, it's, it, it may be, you know, not moving in one clear direction right now, but there's a lot of energy in different arenas beneath the surface. Right. That's what I need to think about the artist community, the music community. Right. And we always say arts community, right. But the music is part of it is important. Part of it is they are, you know, I said it's like they've built the foundation. They are truly. There's a great organ, a great group out there, and they've helped establish us as an identity, right? A place to be, right. And we know that's important and we have an awesome cultural director. Um, you know, we're refocusing, we have our [inaudible] festival engaging, uh, but what we need to do is we need to get out of the structure or the same process we're looking at potentially next year, not this season, but putting on another full time person, um, you know, for focusing in on the arts and music and I don't.

Speaker 3:34:16And, and entertainment that's important to us, right? We have that fabric and I always say it's like building a house. We've got these solid folks, theater care about our community, excited about our community, right? Um, how do we build on that? Right. And we recognize and appreciate because they were the first ones in, right? They committed to our city and they've helped change our community. Right. We wouldn't be having a commuter rail stop potentially if we didn't have the bodies or the need. Right. It's absolutely right. That's important for them. Pop living in New York, I'd see that, the progression of the train and, and you know, he'd always be that fine line between gentrification and people living out of necessity on the artist side of things because they genuinely need the building for the work they're doing. You know, it seems like buttock it's fried at that point now where, you know, it's not quite gentrifying, you know, you haven't gotten to the point where you feel like, Oh man, all these people are moving in from Boston and they're taking over the city and, and, and, you know, one of the things that, that I think is in the governor is capitalize on and we see in our communities is we do have a very hardworking workforce, um, you know, skill sets of their, um, you know, and so, you know, what the challenges is, you know, a lot of the skillset was the old manufacturing world and, and now this is an advanced manufacturing world.

Speaker 3:35:28So, you know, what tools can we provide the education, right? The, the, the technology increases. It's important and I think that that's part of it as well. But you're talking about that you want to raise everybody up just a little bit, right? But if you go too far and you get to the gentefication, you're absolutely right. We're going to be in trouble, right? Nobody feels that way. Right? But people are concerned and then there are some on one side that will say you're not doing enough, and others the insane you're doing too much. And how do you balance that? Right? How do you learn from all of these communities that have become successful and a lot of ways push their folks out. How do you gain this access without losing your identity and pushing those people out? And that's why, you know, we talk about having an ecommerce director having a good playing.

Speaker 3:36:11The city council is very good at that, you know, they're, you know, they're like, like us, uh, you know, they're on the streets as well. They in their neighborhoods, they're on the ground and they hear these things. So it's a good balance. Last question, disc golf. I know it's something that I was, I learned about when I was in high school. I had gym teacher thought it was a great thing, so he taught us, gave everyone discs that go out and play, but then I actually kind of rediscovered it this year a buddy of mine got hooked and started getting very, very serious about it, traveling around New England. So I googled and found that there was one slate upon slater park, but then I found this story that there was controversy surrounding. Wow. So give you a little bit. Right now I don't know how much time we have.

Speaker 3:36:50So we have the disc gals out there. It's a great opportunity as you can tell, I need to do a little more exercise. But again, I've been out there a few times. It is fun. It was something that, you know, I, I didn't understand. And we had the recreation director in the DPW director at the time come to us with this idea of doing the disc golf. It was an inexpensive way to bring activity into the underutilized areas of slater poc. Um, and so it was a great idea. We went out, most people were in favor of it. And then when we put in the, uh, was an eight, I think we made it a 36 hole, um, but it was configuration of the 18 hole, the way they do it, the different pads you throw from, right? So what was 18 of the baskets, if you will.

Speaker 3:37:31And so what happened is there was some of the neighbors and the residents in the area who felt threatened that these people were coming into my neighborhood, um, and felt concerned about it. Read was closer to a property. And so we tried to balance through, you know, the politics of it. We had the district counselor, um, who does a great job advocating for his, uh, folks, uh, and some of the residents will concern. We try to get them through that fear of this is not like something that people are going to be out partying, drinking riots. It's a great activity. And it was new to us. And so what we ended up doing is compromising, um, and we broke them down to, instead of it being, again, it was 18 teas, you know, holes, if you will, the baskets. They broke it down to nine and then depending on, you throw it from the pad, you get to use it as an 18 hole.

Speaker 3:38:22Um, and so there was a lot of compromise. We pulled them away from the neighborhood. People felt we thought that we had done a good job in communicating and letting people know, but there was a swell, you know, there were a few and the residents that lived there and I respected that and the district counselor. And again, there was political agendas as well, you know, but there was legitimacy to that concern. Right? So I don't want to. And so what we did was we broke it down and we turned it into an 18 hole. Um, and it's very successful. Um, you know, we went and maybe, you know, maybe we go back there someday as we talk about that. I think that people got spooked, if you will. Maybe we went too fast to, to like to save 36. Like it was something, it was no.

Speaker 3:39:03Instead of realizing this was a new concept and let's look at phasing it in, you know, we were hearing from a recreation director and a dpw guys and gals that how important this was and we were that model and it was going to bring in that activity because, you know, we've got a lot of open space and then we want people to enjoy it. We want the residents to enjoy it, but it's everybody's right to enjoy that open space. And again, so maybe we went so far to bring it all these holes in it. Spoke to everybody out. So we, you know, we downsized. It has been very successful. Um, you know, I, I don't want to say that have been no concerns because I haven't heard any. We were worked through the political again, Anika blown up, you know, and uh, so right now it's very successful. I know we haven't, you know, hundreds of people that are visiting their, um, they're treating it respectfully, they're taken care of it and you know, they walk the pass out there. So it's a great way to enjoy themselves and the conflict that I think people thought would be there. You know, that concern has been alleviated because we've had a great opportunity, a great experience with it.

Speaker 4:40:05Disc Golf, diploma. That's all the time we have for this episode, but I'll be back with a brand new episode on Tuesday. Until then, I'm bill bartholomew. We'll talk soon.

Speaker 1:40:26Discover the dozens of conversations I've had on the Bartholomew town podcast with Rhode Island politicians, media members, artists and beyond at Bartholomew [inaudible] dot com, our I podcast.com, or on apple podcasts.

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