A group of concerned residents came together to rally against a proposal to build a gas station at the currently defunct corner of Warwick and Park Avenues in the middle of Cranston’s Edgewood, a historic and residential neighborhood in Cranston in a classic battle of corporate interest vs. public welfare.
The neighbors’ chief concern was the health impacts associated with living within 300 feet of underground gasoline storage tanks, which affects 40 residential homes in Edgewood. People living within this radius have an increased risk of leukemia and other life-threatening conditions due to exposure to benzene, a known carcinogen.
Another issue with adding a gas station to this area is the potential negative effects on property values and home marketability, as future homebuyers who want to purchase a home in the area may not be able to receive FHA-insured HUD loans. Neighbors also highlighted an increase of traffic at an already congested intersection frequented by young children on their way to area schools, and the impacts on the several other local gas station small businesses already in the neighborhood.
Area residents were concerned that the town’s decision would not fall in their favor, but the ordinance committee announced on April 19 that they would withdraw the zoning change proposal that would allow a Cumberland Farms to be built.
Relieved neighbors now are turning their sights toward making sure this proposal isn’t made again (a similar proposal went before the council and was voted down in 2015). The current property owner has historically been unwilling to take responsibility for the dilapidated property or entertain other property proposals, despite neighborhood outreach; however, area residents hope that this latest decision will force action.
The community has discussed a desire for a mixed-use building on the corner, similar to the development on Pawtuxet Village or Main Street in East Greenwich, that would benefit Edgewood as a whole.