SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — A local business owner says shipments to his Peace Dale liquor store would change following complaints when a tractor-trailer made a delivery during dismissal time at the nearby elementary school.
“It will not happen again,” Liberty Wine & Spirits owner Joe Paglia told the Town Council Sept. 27. “We don’t need an 18-wheeler dropping off product at the store.”
Open only for a couple of weeks at its new location on Kingstown Road, Liberty is the former Patsy’s package store. The new store is at the corner of Kingstown and Kersey roads, and a dozen yards from the entrance to Peace Dale Elementary School.
A resident provided the council with a photo showing the front portion of an 18-wheel tractor trailer jutting out into the eastbound half of Kersey Road while parked to unload product at the store. It was there at the time that students were leaving for the day, or being picked up by their parents.
Paglia explained that the truck driver had received a “thumbs up” from a police officer passing by to position the truck in that way.
“In fairness to the officer, I don’t think he knew the truck was going to be there that long, so it’s no one’s fault but my own,” he said.
Any truck now arriving at the lot will be a typical box truck rather than an 18-wheeler, Paglia said. Modifications to the property mean trucks can pull into the lot and back up to use a side door to make deliveries, rather than pulling into the street, Paglia said.
Budweiser and another distributor, Centrex, have been notified of the change, Paglia said.
“Pepsi is usually a small truck. There won’t be trucks of that size in the parking lot again,” he said. “We can contain any truck or delivery on Kingstown side with out having to affect anybody.”
Council member Deb Kelso noted the store had just opened at that location and still had some logistical “bugs” to work out.
“We had a good discussion, Joe and I about the challenges there, and the challenges there are big during pick-up time at the school, especially on a rainy day,” she said. “If the bugs aren’t worked out, we’ll have you back.”
Paglia, who has 25 years of experience running Arturo Joe’s restaurant in Narragansett, said people can approach him if they have a problem or complaint, and he will address it.
“We want to be part of this community for a long time,” said Paglia, who owns Liberty with his brother, John, and has children in the school system.
Paglia said he’s trying to be a good neighbor and have Liberty Wine & Spirits project a more upscale look than a typical liquor store. There will be no loitering on his property, he said.
“We want to make it a comfortable feel, it’s eye appealing. We’re not going to go crazy with banners, we understand there’s a school across the street,” he said.
Paglia also said the school has informed parents not to park their cars in nearby businesses while waiting to pick up students.
“There’s no easy way to walk outside and say, ‘Please don’t park your car here to pick your child up,’ because it’s not coming out right no matter how I say it,” he said. “I’m sure some people got upset and that’s not what I want. I’m a parent, I get it.”
School Committee Chairwoman Paula Whitford has some concerns, she said. She said her 12-year-old granddaughter thought it was not “cool” that a liquor store was so close to a school.
Whitford noted that a school zone sign only exists toward the North Road part of Kersey Road, and not on Kingstown Road near the businesses.
“How is it that our school zone in Peace Dale isn’t marked on all perimeters,” she said. Whitford also wants the town to hold the store accountable for following safety measures during its deliveries.