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  • Writer's pictureRyan Pearson

Senate passes Pearson bill creating Rhode Island Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program

STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Senate has passed legislation introduced by Sen. Ryan William Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) that would create the Rhode Island Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program. The bill (2018-S 2239) would establish the program within the Department of Administration to issue grants and provide assistance for municipal and other public infrastructure projects that support job creation and expansion, housing development and rehabilitation, community development, and for the accommodation of future growth and redevelopment. “Communities often face funding gaps in some of the infrastructure work that needs to be done, which in turn hampers economic development,” said Senator Pearson. “This grant program could help our municipalities to undertake important projects that otherwise would not get done because of problems with financing. This legislation is based on a very successful program in Massachusetts called MassWorks, and it’s exactly the sort of project we want to encourage here in Rhode Island.” Mass Works was designed to prepare communities for long-term strength and sustainability, with particular emphasis on projects that support multi-family housing in walkable mixed-use districts, or that support economic development in weak or distressed areas. Under Senator Pearson’s legislation, the department would be authorized to issue public infrastructure grants to municipalities and other public agencies for design, construction, building, land acquisition, rehabilitation, repair and other improvements to publicly-owned infrastructure. That could include sewers, utility extensions, streets, parking, water treatment systems, telecommunications systems, transit improvements and others. “One grant under the MassWorks program was $900,000 to the town of Mashpee to create water and wastewater infrastructure and install utilities, roadways and sidewalks,” said Senator Pearson. ‘With that investment, 52 new residences were developed along with 14,000 square feet of commercial space, 135 new construction and permanent jobs, and the town now receives about $140,000 in annual tax revenue from these developments.”

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