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GoLocalProv: Providence Preservation Society Kicks Off Speaker Series

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This Thursday, the Providence Preservation Society will kick off a yearlong speaker series by hosting former New York City Parks Commissioner and current Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development at the Trust for Public Land, Adrian Benepe. The series, entitled Not Always Easy: Building the New Urban Experience, will feature dynamic urban leaders and experts on topics including government and development, open space and public land, and transportation. Benepe will begin by leading a discussion on the benefit and potential of open space and public land.

The event will take place on the first floor bank hall of the iconic Industrial Trust Building, Providence's tallest skyscraper, beginning at 5:30 PM. It is being organized in collaboration with the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC), an advocate for the redevelopment of Kennedy Plaza and the downtown Providence park system. After his talk, Benepe will be joined by DPPC's executive director, Cliff Wood, for a one-on-one dialogue and also to facilitate questions from the audience.

“Downtown Providence is in the midst of another major evolution in our quest to be a great mid-sized American city. Between the new vision for Kennedy Plaza and potential in the 195 parcels, open space and public land is a critical piece of the puzzle,” stated Providence Preservation Society President, Lucie Searle. “Adrian Benepe has a vast and impressive history maximizing a city’s park system, developing public-private partnerships, and catalyzing the economic impact of some of America’s greatest parks. We are thrilled he is joining us here in Providence and kicking off this series.”

Benepe has worked in the public and non-profit realm as a leader in park and public space conservation, design, construction and operation, in the areas of city planning, arts, culture, historic preservation, and landscape and urban design for his entire career. As Parks Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he oversaw public-private partnerships that catalyzed the development of several signature city parks, including the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

During his 11-year tenure, New York City saw the addition of 730 new acres of parks and public space, and groundwork laid for an additional 2,000 park acres. In 2012, Benepe became Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land and oversees the urban work of over thirty offices whose projects include parks, playgrounds, gardens, trails and greenways across the United States.

"I am excited to come to Providence," said Benepe. "Providence is well known for its historic architecture and innovative urban planning, but I have yet to really explore what is happening there. I hope to share examples and experiences from other cities across the country and around the world that reveal the potential for quality public space to create better places to live, work and visit. I look forward to diving into this conversation with Providence leaders.”