Ghouls on parade

By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  March 17, 2010

Michael Cassidy, the longtime director of planning and redevelopment in Pawtucket who started working for the city as a planning technician in 1970, announced his retirement to much regret and acclaim. Mayor Doyle noted that "we are losing a valuable piece of city government" while William Harty, the chairman of the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, described Cassidy as "one of the best public servants" Pawtucket has ever known.

It is people like Cassidy, who toil for years in the background, with skill, integrity, and a pantload of institutional memory and knowledge, who are true civic heroes, the people who get things done.

Morris Nathanson, the internationally acclaimed architectural designer and artist from Pawtucket, qualifies as a true visionary (along with his wife Phyllis).Long before anyone thought it possible, Morris was promoting the idea of transforming the then ghost town-like shell of downtown Pawtucket into an arts community, where people could live and work. He put his money where his heart was when he and Phyllis established the Riverfront Lofts complex. The Gamm Theater eventually moved in across the street and slowly but surely, step by step, the city of Pawtucket has embraced Nathanson's vision of a dynamic and creative city.

On March 10, the Pawtucket City Council voted unanimously to name the span on Exchange Street that crosses the Blackstone River the Morris Nathanson Bridge. This is a well-deserved honor for an artist whose contribution to the quality of life in Pawtucket (and beyond) has been incalculable.

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