Providence City Council members voted last week to pursue the necessary legal action to begin the process of reopening the stretch of 100 South that lies between 200 West and Main Street.
“There is a long list of reasons why we are opening it, but one of the reasons is the commercial part of the city has grown, and the other thing is the roundabout went in that particular place because we intended to open 100 South,” said Mayor John Drew.
According to Drew, 100 South has been a road for well over a hundred years and has been a part of the city’s master plan for 25 years.
However, the middle of the road has been blocked for the past 12 years following an agreement between property owners and the city. Many residents are now concerned about how opening it would impact their property and quality of life.
Camille Pederson, one of the homeowners on 100 South, said in her yard “there are five mature trees and beautiful front grass landscaping. That (road opening) is really going to impact me as a property owner in that area, so I hope that will be taken into consideration.”
According to Mark Thompson, another of the property owners on 100 South, city officials came to him and his neighbors in 2006 and asked them to deed the road to the city so it could expand the sewer down that road.
They did, but with the requirement that the city put a cul-de-sac midway down the road so it would not become a heavily trafficked through street. If the road did become a through street, the agreement was residents would be compensated for the property.
At this same time, Thompson said, city officials asked him to deed them a strip of property he had acquired further west on 100 South. He agreed, and in 2008, the deed became official.
In order to further ensure 100 South would not become a through street, Thompson put a restriction in the deed stating that the “grantee may not use said land for road access to the East to adjoin 200 West Street.”
According to the mayor, this restriction has created a cloud over the title. Drew said legal action is required in order to clear this cloud, which is preventing a title company from insuring it, and to settle an ownership question that would prevent the city from making the road a through street.
During the June 11 council meeting, council members voted to pursue the legal action necessary to clear the title.
Currently, this vote does not impact the property to the east of the barrier. However, it is the first step in opening 100 South and would eventually impact those property owners.
If 100 South became a through street it would most likely be expanded in order to more safely accommodate two directions of traffic. This and the increase in traffic are the reasons most opposed residents object to the opening of the road.
Thompson, on the other hand, said he believes the opening of 100 South is inevitable, but he wants to see it done by developers, not the city, so that taxpayers would not bear the burden of the cost.
While this idea was discussed at the June 11 meeting, it was pointed out that this strategy would not work if some of the properties were never sold to developers.
Council Member Kristina Eck said those opposing the opening of 100 South had a “selfish perspective.”
“You are OK to drive past everyone else’s house to get to point B, but you don’t want anyone driving past your house. So I struggle with some of that,” Eck said.
Drew also commented on how opening 100 South would positively impact other residents.
“Twelve years ago, when the city closed that road, there were a lot of residents who had regularly traveled that road who were not happy because the road was closing,” Drew said.