This corner marks the center of the city of Cranston. It’s at the heart of Rolfe Square, one of Cranston’s business districts, a weiner’s throw from Cranston City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. It should welcome you to the city. It should say “Hey, I’m Cranston, Rhode Island. You’ve arrived.” Well, maybe it does say that, but just not in a way the city might hope.
Right now that corner is just a parking lot, barely big enough for 6 cars, and a series of billboards that dominate the views to the south and east. Telephone poles and wires add to the clutter. The radius of the curbs are cut to maximize the speed at which cars can navigate the intersection. It’s pretty clear that this space is just for automobiles, and it really deserves better. There are some great businesses in the Square that justify giving this corner some attention. The European Food Market, The Jerusalem Deli, Chinese-American Mini Market, Durfee Hardware, to name a few. Not to mention the residents of Auburn and Eden Park.
Districts like this around the city need to be scrutinized for their failings as places for pedestrians and bikers. An effort should be made to think creatively to liven up the city’s streets, to encourage nearby residents to explore and use public spaces and to shop locally. The more pedestrians frequent their local business districts, the more money will funnel back into the local economy.