Warwick, RI is the state’s second largest city, and with 39 miles of coastline and a “small town village feel,” Warwick could rest on its laurels. But Mayor Scott Avedisian, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has an ambitious vision for his city, and is working to create a more vibrant public waterfront and a more diverse local economy.
“When you come from a community that was founded in 1642, you tend to believe that your best days are in the past,” Avedesian says. “But when you start looking at how you can use development to your best advantage without forgetting your past, you realize your best days are still ahead.”
Warwick is in the midst of a waterfront transformation. The City purchased one full mile of coastline at the site of a former amusement park and the state purchased adjacent land with the goal of transforming that area into a 121-acre public park that Avedisian says will be “a gem.” The mayor is eager to make the waterfront park a center of recreation for Warwick residents as well as an economic and transportation center in Rhode Island, and hopes dock space, pier space and moorings will secure Warwick a stop on the Rhode Island Fast Ferry.
Another hallmark accomplishment completed during Avedisian’s term is the T.F Green Airport Station, which now connects Warwick residents to Providence and Boston by commuter rail. A project 15 years in the making, T.F. Green boasts the closest intercity air-to-rail link in the country, and was built on a former brownfields site. The city is now focused on redeveloping the 95-acres surrounding that property into a new downtown district.
Across all these projects, Avedisian is working to make sure new construction and ambitious planning don’t detract from Warwick’s historic character. “When you have a 300 year old building that’s perfectly preserved and is an example of spectacular architecture, that’s an asset that even new development next door can benefit from,” he says.
Scott Avedisian is just one of many municipal officials sharing his vision and expertise for making great neighborhoods as an Advisory Board member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Know a local elected official who’s passionate about better development strategies? Nominate a member today.