Naming of The Michael S. Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge

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Naming of The Michael S. Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge

This petition made change with 1,253 supporters!

Kyle Bennett started this petition to Mayor Jorge Elorza and

We intend to have the new pedestrian bridge named after local activist and way-maker Michael S. Van Leesten.

Van Leesten was one of the founders of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rhode Island, which provides job training, career counseling and other programs to people from underrepresented groups, and served as its chief executive officer. He also served as executive assistant to the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut and helped with the development of the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

A graduate of Hope High School and Rhode Island College, where he was a star basketball player, Van Leesten encouraged economic growth in the state and worked to develop housing for low-income people.

The Providence River Pedestrian Bridge is the culmination of a decade’s work. The 394-foot walkway cuts across the river from east-to-west, set atop granite piers remaining from the narrow stretch of Interstate 195 that traversed the river before its relocation in 2013. Wood cladding by SITU Fabrication provides the bridge with warmth and references the historic nature of the Providence. While the bridge’s prominent location has made it a well-attended attraction since its summer completion, the bridge is expected to see an even greater surge in pedestrian activity as the Innovation & Design District continues development.

It is imperative that the bridge be named after the Fox Point native to demonstrate the power and connectivity of crossing the river to create opportunity. The life of Michael Van Leesten and the purpose of the pedestrian bridge are synonymous. 

We ask that city officials declare this bridge "The Michael S. Van Leesten Bridge" and let the world know how much the son of the city continues to mean to us all.

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This petition made change with 1,253 supporters!