Re: Signs of the Apocalypse
Daniel Barbarisi has a story in today’s Projo on the strip clubs vs. the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival. Apparently, there’s much more to this story; it is but a single battle in Providence’s larger waterfront development war…
The waterfront flare-up between developer Patrick T. Conley and businesses on Allens Avenue is starting to burn out of control and has now drawn the businesses and the strip clubs on the avenue into a fight that threatens to cancel the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival planned for this weekend.Also, the cultural festival organizers have circulated a second press release (which still doesn’t mention the broader context), containing several quotes from Charles Tapalian where he says he never had any intention to stop the 2008 festival from occurring…
Conley and the waterfront businesses, known as the Working Waterfront Alliance, have been battling for years over the future of the industrial strip.
In 2006, Conley opened Providence Piers, a mill housing artists’ studios, function space, and an art gallery, in between Sprague Energy and Promet Marine Services, a shipyard. He wants to see the zoning changed in the area to allow for more than just industrial use. He had originally proposed condominiums, but appears to have altered that proposal to suggest that some sort of commercial use might be more appropriate.
In the interim, Conley has been holding carnivals, concerts and festivals at a vacant lot at his Providence Piers site since last summer, although they are prohibited by the area’s zoning….
At a Zoning Board hearing last night on whether Conley should get his variances, the festival’s timing shone a light on the fact that the site is not zoned properly. And when festival organizers went to get their permits Monday, they were shocked to discover that there was serious opposition to the event, and learned that they would have to wait for their permits and liquor license until Conley’s zoning variance was dealt with.
Among the opponents at a liquor license hearing Monday were lawyer David Tapalian, who acts as the agent for the Allens Avenue adult business Cheaters, which is owned by his father, Charles. Also in opposition were representatives of some of the Allens Avenue industrial businesses, such as Promet, Sprague, and Narragansett Improvement Company, an asphalt manufacturer.
“I was not trying to stop the festival.” “My feeling is that the Puerto Rican community has worked too hard to get this event together for the city to just pull the plug on them,” Tapalian went on. “I am on record at the previous hearing and have said that they SHOULD have the festival, particularly due to this late date. What I don’t want to see is anyone believing that we should allow a ‘carte blanche’ license for events at Providence Piers in the future without proper zoning and due to the potentially dangerous cyanide contamination.”
”I can understand that in the sudden shock of the city taking this to a hearing that they misunderstood my intentions, but honestly I think the festival should go forward. I’ll be there tonight and I will make it known again that I believe the festival should go on,” he said.