Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary'' in Golocal24.com
Congratulations to tiny Central Falls, R.I. Moody’s Investors Service, touting financial progress in Rhode Island’s smallest city, raised the city’s bond rating by a notch and says it may well achieve an investment-grade rating within 12-24 months. The city is on schedule to complete its court-ordered post-bankruptcy recovery plan by June 30.
Now all eyes turn to a couple of proposed projects. The most important by far is to build a train station in Pawtucket, next to Central Falls and hyperbolically called "The birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution,'' to serve it and Central Falls with MBTA (and maybe eventually Amtrak?) rail service. It now appears that this $40 million project, funded by federal, state and local money, will probably go forward, with completion by sometime in 2019.
What a boon this would be to the two old mill towns! It would attract business and by making more accessible the inexpensive housing in them, could lure people from very expensive Greater Boston. Actually, for that matter, it would help make northern Rhode Island more part of Greater Boston than it already is.
The project, by taking cars off the road, would also reduce traffic congestion on Route 95 and some local roads.
The other project is the Pawtucket Red Sox plan to build a baseball stadium surrounded by a public park, on the site of the Apex store in downtown Pawtucket. A carefully financed public-private project could lure a lot of people into both Pawtucket and Central Falls from a wide two-state region and pay for itself in more property- and sales-tax revenue. But we still don’t know the financial and many other details of this still rather vague plan. The public is quite properly leery of such raids on the taxpayers as Hartford’s infamous new $71 million Dunkin’ Donuts Park – another slam at the finances of what used to be called “the Insurance Capital of the World’’.
Once Central Falls fully has its act together, it, Pawtucket and the state should work together to merge the two cities. Central Falls is far too small to be a separate jurisdiction. The cities should seek the economies of scale that would come from a merger.