Kravitz resigns from role as North Smithfield town planner

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – After nearly five years of working to guide and implement a variety of projects in North Smithfield, Town Planner Tom Kravitz has decided it is time to move on.

Kravitz submitted a letter of resignation this week and will work his last day for the town on Friday, Aug. 13, before moving on to a role as planner for the city of Warwick.

“He’s going to be sorely missed,” said Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski in reaction to the news. “He’s a super guy – and he’s going to do fine.”

Kravitz came to North Smithfield in December of 2016 from a previous job as director of planning for the town of Burrillville, where he had worked since 2001. He was hired by former Town Administrator Gary Ezovski to replace then resigning North Smithfield Planner Robert Ericson.

A Burrillville resident, Kravitz has a master’s degree in community planning and landscape architecture from the University of Rhode Island, and a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from California University of Pennsylvania. He has also worked for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the city of Cranston and served on the board of directors for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

In Burrillville, he received high praise for his work on projects that resulted in the redevelopment of the village centers of Harrisville and Pascoag, including obtaining grant funding for what is now known as the Stillwater Mill Complex.

His major projects in North Smithfield have included an update of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, and working with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to get the Route 146 Reconstruction Project underway. That $150 million project is now in the planning stages, and will include creation of a bridge over Sayles Hill Road.

Kravitz noted that through work with the Planning Board, he’s also seen many smaller plans make progress over the past five years.

“There’s so many little projects that we were able to accomplish,” Kravitz said, pointing construction of the Seasons Corner Market/ gas station by Branch Village, rehabilitation of North Smithfield Auto, and additions to Dowling Village including Anytime Fitness and the recently completed apartments.

Kravitz said he’s particularly proud of his work helping the town of North Smithfield to acquire 114 acres of open space through a $429,000 purchase of a lot on Old Smithfield Road from the Souza family. Kravitz applied for – and won – a $214,500 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to cover half of the expense. The lot connects to the 92-acre Booth Pond Conservation area, which was recently opened to the public, and the planner also worked with National Grid to secure an easement connecting the two properties.

“It was a great value for the acreage,” Kravitz said of the purchase.

Kravitz also pointed to the expansion of Beck Cabinet Manufacturing, and the relocation of Beef Barn Restaurant, now underway.

“Being a redevelopment from an existing site, we were able to alleviate the rigors of site planning,” he said of the project, noting that the Industrial Highway site was a great match for the restaurant, with rehabilitation an old structure on the land. “What are the chances you’ll find another building in town like that, that has a barn?”

The planner’s hard work has come with recognition. The Stillwater Mill project won a Smart Growth Award in 2012 and in 2018, Kravitz was the recipient of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Daniel Varin Award.

That work will continue in Warwick, where he’ll soon begin serving as the city’s planning director. He said he’s enjoyed his time in North Smithfield, but the job represents a great opportunity.

“Everyone has been great to work with,” he said of the town. “I couldn’t have been more fortunate. I wouldn’t have made a lateral move. Being in a small town, you kind of hit a ceiling.”

Zwolenski said he expects to begin accepting applications for a replacement as soon as next Tuesday.

Editor’s note: A original version of this article stated that Mr. Kravitz lives in Brookline, Mass., but he is a current resident of Burrillville. We apologize for the error.

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