Imagine Riverside Square with the charm of a Wickendon Street in Providence or as business strip like in downton Warren.
Ted Sheridan can.
“I think the seeds are planted already,” said Sheridan, who lives on the water on Narragansett Avenue not too from Riverside Square. “If we just cultivate what we have already, I think it can blossom.”
Sheridan and his wife, Kathy, were introduced by City Councilor Tracy Capobianco at last week’s East Providence City Council meeting as the heads of a new citizens’ group, the Riverside Renaissance Committee.
It’s vision: Make the Riverside Square and the area surrounding it a sort of “pit stop” for people driving or biking through Riverside on the East Bay Bike Path.
The committee is in its infancy. It has met only one time. Other meetings are being planned.
“There wasn’t an intent to form a committee,” said Sheridan. “We just wanted to know what was happening with the property owned by the city near Riverside Square.”
He was referring to the former Vamco property on Bullocks Point Avenue that has been boarded up and vacant for some time. It is being brought down.
“We started to see some activity and asked: What’s going on?” he said.
Sheridan and his wife contacted Capobianco and City Counclor Chrissy Rossi, both of Riverside. They decided to get together to talk about their common concerns.
Soon, Rep. Greg Amore, who lives in Riverside, and David Bachrach, East Providence’s community development director, heard about the group. So did Eugene Saveory of Riverside, head of the Zoning Board.
“We had a nice contingent of town officials,” said Sheridan. “And a good dozen concerned people also interested in finding out what is going on.”
The dialogue at that meeting at the Sheridans’ house was extremely positive and enthusiastic, he said. There was an agreement that “Riverside is a wonderful place with a lot going for it.”
Sheridan mentioned the Crescent Park Carousel, Rose Larisa Park, and Sabin Point Park as examples. His primary focus right now, Riverside Square, “is a pocket of possibilities,” he said.
There is the old train depot, which houses a tanning salon now. It’s architecture remains mostly unchanged.
There is the Dari-Bee ice cream shop. And the Bullocks convenience store often referred to as “Buckets” that Sheridan sees as a possible coffee shop right on the corner of Bullocks Point Avenue and Lincoln Avenue.
First things first, though.
“We need to look at the resources that are out there,” he said. “Then we need to connect the dots and be as creative as we can be.”
“There is a lot going in that little stretch,” he said.
But it could use a renaissance.