The front page of the Providence Journal recently featured a striking photo of the new Rt 95 bridge bathed in a purple glow. Mayor Donald Grebien had responded creatively to the death of one of America's greatest musicians and performers, PRINCE. I was struck by the beauty of the picture and the aptness of the tribute. It was also another example of the sound judgement of Mayor Grebien and his responsiveness to the mood and needs of the people of Pawtucket.
This is not the first time that the Mayor has shown good sense and sensitivity. His nuanced and well-timed response to the Pawtucket Red Sox and their threatened departure from Pawtucket resulted in a renewal of the attempts to persuade the Red Sox to stay on and consider upgrading the landmark McCoy Stadium. Symbolically, Grebien threw out the first pitch on opening day and that gesture to "PLAY BALL" seemed to promise renewed efforts to raise the loyalty of the city population to the ball team and the team to the city.
One of the reactions I had to the news that came crashing down last year that the Red Sox were going to move out of McCoy was a sadness and sense of injustice that our small but important city, a place that once had pioneered so much, has been stripped of so many of its assets. Now on bleak days it seems like a blighted shell of its former industrial and merantile glory--a city that could hardly sustain another loss.
Now another loss is underway. We have been told recently of a plan to close down the historic Memorial Hospital in the guise of efficiency and cost saving. This announcement has raised the specter that this city will lose a hospital that has served for over a century the needs of the area that includes Pawtucket, Central Falls and Valley Falls, The Sayles family that provided the initial funds created a hospital that was a touchstone for Pawtucket pride and well being. I remember walking in the grounds when I was a child and admiring the young nursing students in their crisp uniforms and dramatic capes who lived in the gracious Nursing School residence --still visible on the Pond Street side of the hospital campus. The people of Pawtucket and Central Falls deserve a full service hospital near where they live as the founders of the Hospital intended.
Yes, Pawtucket has some major assets still intact but the city's greatest asset is its diverse and enterprising population. Seeing that photo of the bridge bathed in a magic purple glow also made me aware that something new and praise worthy has been added to the assets of the city of Pawtucket. See how we are still growing and evolving under the able leadership of Donald Grebien?