NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Town leaders in Narragansett are moving froward with plans to host a workshop for ideas about what should replace the Lighthouse Inn.
The Town Council voted Monday to hold a visioning workshop for the property, which is state land that’s leased to the Procaccianti Group through its PRI X limited liability corporation.
It comes after news that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management agreed to renew its lease with PRI X for another six months. The land sits at a key gateway for the fishing port of Galilee.
The lease agreement lets PRI X solicit redevelopment proposals by developing a request for proposals, council member Ewa Dzwierzynski said.
“That doesn’t make sense for the developer to write the RFP for a property they have,” she said. Dzwierzynski also sent additional concerns from a recent State Properties Committee meeting to the state. Among them are that the state and PRI signed the extension of the lease days before that meeting.
“This was already a done deal,” she said. “We’re running out of time for the Lighthouse Inn property. We want a quality development, I think the whole town does.”
The council would hire a development and planning facilitator to outline how various land uses scenarios consistent with the Galilee Special District plan.
Those might include a hotel with a park and plaza and surface parking, mixed-use housing and retail or retail, park and surface parking. The options aren’t limited to those proposals, however.
Among other actions the town could take beyond a workshop are petitioning the state for Narragansett to acquire the land and redevelop the site, litigate for control of the parcels, or seek legislative action to revamp the state statutes that currently give DEM its power to oversee the site.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to get this right and get the quality development we deserve,” Dzwierzynski said.
Other work groups and a task force could explore incentives for development, she added.
“Something that would make it more feasible for a developer to invest millions of dollars on leased land,” she said.
In April, the council asked the state’s attorney general to investigate the lease of the property, claiming that lessee has failed to maintain the blighted parcel for years. There’s been no written response so far from the office of Attorney General Peter Neronha.
In February, the council unanimously passed a resolution opposing plans by PRI X to turn the site of what was also called the Dutch Inn for many years into a small retail plaza backed by more than 500 parking spaces.
In the months since, resident Al Alba has organized a petition with more than 1,500 signatures to save the property.
“We do not need more parking lots in Galilee,” Alba said. “It will not help the fishing industry nor will it help local businesses and tourism to go to Galilee. We need a revitalization plan in the leased land area.”