Pawtucket brings back Neighborhood Task Force to tackle ‘quality of life’ issues

Pawtucket brings back Neighborhood Task Force to tackle ‘quality of life’ issues

PAWTUCKET– The city’s Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement, along with Mayor Donald Grebien and the Pawtucket City Council, have announced the reinstitution of the old Neighborhood Task Force Program.

The initiative will certify volunteer residents to help the Code Enforcement Division in citing properties that are blighted, rundown, decayed, or not adhering to city codes and ordinances.

“All the residents of Pawtucket deserve to live in clean environments and maintained neighborhoods,” said Grebien in a statement. “The city recognizes that there are quality of life concerns in some of our neighborhoods, and the community needs your help. Working together, the city will work to get ahead on identifying the problem properties in our streets and enforcing the standards.”

Wilder Arboleda, spokesman for Grebien’s administration, said the program is basically about “commissioning people to be able to cite properties in their neighborhood that aren’t up to par.”

Arboleda said it’s been a very long time since Pawtucket ran such a program. Anyone can be part of this effort, he said, but the hope is to have a process so participants know exactly what they’re doing and can know what to look for as they decide whether to send information to zoning officials. Every complaint notice, backed by photos, would also be reviewed in an official capacity, he said.

City Council members, at Council President David Moran’s request last week, approved a request to the Police Department seeking a more streamlined process for councilors to deliver requests for officers’ help in neighborhoods instead of always going to Chief Tina Goncalves. Moran said he’d like to bring back a council liaison or police personnel specifically assigned to certain districts to respond to requests directly.

On the code enforcement side, the Department of Zoning and Code Enforcement continues to cite properties not up to code with city requirements, though court cases have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reinstituting the program will allow residents to be certified to anonymously cite any property not adhering to city codes and ordinances, helping to improve the environment and combat the statewide increase of rodents.

“Let’s all be part of the solution and not allow absentee landlords and troubled properties to negatively impact our neighborhoods. I thank the City Council, Zoning and Code Enforcement Director Bill Vieira, and, most importantly, our residents as this initiative will lead to a cleaner and more productive Pawtucket for all,” said Grebien.

The city has run a program to identify abandoned and problematic properties to be placed into receivership. The program, started in 2017, identifies properties with numerous outstanding violations left unaddressed and that are vacant to get them cleaned up.

Zoning officials this summer have reached out to a number of neighborhood associations with an emphasis beginning in Woodlawn. The program is set to start effective immediately and willing residents are encouraged to sign up now. Any resident looking to get involved can email wvieira@pawtucketri.com or call 401-728-0500, ext. 449.