About 40 members of the College Hill Neighborhood Association turned out to discuss city and neighborhood issues with Providence Mayor David Cicilline '83 at Moses Brown School last night.
The mayor emphasized the effects of the recession on Providence.
"It would be an understatement to say that we're in a really challenging budget time," he said.
Cicilline said the city's immediate focus should be on creating jobs and laying the foundation for economic recovery. He said the key to rebuilding Providence's economy will be investing in knowledge-based industries, adding that he has been working in Washington, D.C., to funnel stimulus money to Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Cicilline also commended the Providence Police Department for being a model city police force, saying "the police department is and continues to be
Chief of Police Colonel Dean Esserman, who was in attendance, added that the Providence police force is on the road to becoming the first teaching police force in the United States.
Another issue on the agenda was the public school system. Cicilline said he is working hard with Providence Public Schools Superintendent Tom Brady to address key failings in the system. A major goal, said Cicilline, would be to work on bridging the perceived separation between school and after-school activities.
Members of the CHNA raised concerns about graffiti. Cicilline agreed that graffiti is a serious problem but said there is no solution other than to continue fighting it.
Esserman said a majority of vandals are high school students tagging their own neighborhoods. The police department is taking new initiatives to prevent graffiti, such as talking directly to parents and school officials, he added.
A more divisive issue brought up at the meeting was parking enforcement. Cicilline said parking complaints are split between people claiming that parking enforcement is too strict and people complaining that parking enforcement is too lenient.
"Everyone I've asked this question to has strong views one way or another," Cicilline said, adding that he is a big proponent of on-street parking and that he is working on pilot programs in several neighborhoods to reform parking.
College Hill resident Alan Gore told The Herald that this was his first time attending a neighborhood meeting, and he thought the mayor seemed very on top of things.
"I thought it was very informative," Gore said.