November 7, 2017
The Honorable Donald R. Grebien
137 Roosevelt Avenue
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860
Dear Mayor Grebien:
I have lived in Fairlawn for nearly 45 years. In that time, I have witnessed many changes in the community—a new park on Smithfield Avenue, a new baseball field at Nathanael Greene Elementary School, and the addition of condominium developments and new small businesses and shops along the main thoroughfare. I have seen the community grow increasingly diverse economically, racially, and ethnically. Throughout these changes, two characteristics of Fairlawn have remained constant: the civic pride and the neighborliness of its residents and small businesses.
Our neighborhood welcome sign says that Fairlawn is a community “built by generations of good neighbors.” That is more than just a catchy tagline. And Fairlawn is more than just a section on the west side of Pawtucket. For generations of us, it is the place we call “home,” the place in which we have chosen to grow our roots and raise our families.
My father and mother moved to Fairlawn in the early 1960s and started a small business on Power Road, DeDora’s Market, which they owned and operated successfully for nearly three decades. My parents exemplified the Fairlawn spirit by being good and responsible neighbors to their customers. When a Fairlawn family’s breadwinner was laid off, my father anonymously deposited a month’s worth of groceries and meats at their backdoor. When an elderly lady was spied pocketing a can of smoked salmon every Friday, my mother chose to turn a blind eye because she knew that the lady was living on social security alone and could barely make ends meet, never mind enjoy “luxuries” like canned salmon. When a neighborhood kid stole candy from the store’s shelves, my father sat him down and learned that the boy’s mother no longer was able to provide him with treats because his father had run off, leaving her to provide for him on her single income. My dad made a deal with the boy that if he stopped stealing, he could pop by the market every morning for a bag of candy on his way to school. Years later, at my father’s funeral, the boy-turned-grown-man told me that my dad’s kindness had changed his life.
Stories like these are in abundance–and not just related to my family, but to the many individuals and businesses that have chosen to call Fairlawn “home.” Fairlawn’s character is their legacy and I feel compelled to do all that I can to protect that.
Your administration and Link Environmental’s plan to put a garbage transfer station, with a 2,000 ton per day capacity, in close proximity to plats of well-maintained single family homes, an elementary school, a daycare center, and numerous small businesses that have been good neighbors, like my parents’ store was, and that employ hundreds of people among them, is unacceptable to me. You campaigned as a candidate who would attract businesses to join Pawtucket’s “ evolution.” A garbage transfer station– even a state-of-the- art garbage transfer station– is antithetical to a city that is evolving into a place where people want to live, and work, and raise families. How does becoming New England’s equivalent of Newark, New Jersey further your vision? This plan poses numerous health, safety, and quality of life issues and potentially decimates our property values. You can spin this all you want, but in your heart of hearts, Mayor, you know that this will destroy Fairlawn as we know it. 55 Concord Street might seem like a logical spot, an industrial spot, but it is in close proximity to families who are raising children and living their lives. It is next to businesses that have operated for decades and add to the culture of the community—Chelo’s, Amanda’s, the Car Store. Just because your location is ostensibly logical does not make it right.
As someone who gave a speech at your re-election kick-off, contributed to your campaign monetarily and in-kind, and believed that you genuinely cared about our community, I am disappointed, furious, and wholeheartedly committed to opposing this plan with every resource I have. You were elected to represent the will of the people. The majority of Fairlawners do not want a transfer station at 55 Concord Street. Listen to them. Do the right thing. As a son of Fairlawn, this is your legacy, too. Don’t trash it.