NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — In a move described as “awkward,” Al Alba — a staunch advocate for Narragansett to redevelop the former Lighthouse Inn property — has been removed from the Galilee Advisory Committee.
The Town Council voted unanimously Monday to strip Alba of his membership on the 11-member advisory committee he was appointed to on Dec. 6, 2021 after he reportedly missed four consecutive meetings.
Kevin Kosko, chairman of the Galilee Advisory Committee, wrote to the council asking that Alba be removed in accordance with the town’s rules for committee, commission and board appointments. He said Alba attended the first meeting after he was appointed, but then missed four consecutive meetings.
“Mr. Alba asked me to move our regular 2nd Tuesday of every month meeting to Saturday so he could attend as he works late. This change is not possible, and I conveyed this to Mr. Alba. He stated maybe at the end of the year he could attend,” Kosko said.
Alba’s unexpired term, which ends Oct. 1, 2024, will be filled by Douglas McLaughlin. The council made the appointment moments after ousting Alba.
Followers of Narragansett issues on social media are likely aware of Alba’s desire to get the town to take control of the Galilee parcel redevelopment. In almost daily public posts, he outlines efforts by himself and others, including a petition and letters to newspapers and state agencies, to sway state leaders to choose Narragansett as the rightful custodian and developer of the property.
He has also waged a public battle against the parcel’s leaseholder, the Procaccianti Group’s PRI X, claiming the large real estate developer has engaged in inside deals with the state for a long-term lease on the site to turn it into a parking lot.
Alba, who has worked for more than 30 years as an adult educator within the state’s Department of Corrections, claimed he was being “ousted” from the committee, and outlined that when he applied, the council unanimously approved his appointment.
“I know it was not the intention to set me up for failure by putting me on a committee that had meetings that conflicted with my work schedule,” he said. “I felt that I may be able to review the agenda, provide feedback, and show up on occasion. This school year I was unable to accommodate my work schedule, but next year, I told the chairperson, I would be able to attend every other meeting.”
He would be able to provide input on the agenda for meetings he could not attend, he said.
Alba also said Kosko had been “upset” with Alba’s continued advocacy for the town’s Galilee development proposal.
“I was basically told, ‘You are already causing problems on this committee, and you just joined,’” Alba said. “We’re going to contact President (Jesse) Pugh and Susan (Cicilline Buonanno) to have you taken off.”
According to the rules, removal from a committee is not automatic nor absolute, but “may” take place. The decision rests with the council.
“Any appointee who is absent without cause for three (3) consecutive meetings may be subject to removal by the Town Council,” the rule states.
Kosko was out of the country Monday and not available for comment. He did, however, indicate that a Galilee fisherman and resident had attended the most recent two meetings and showed interest in joining.
Council president pro-tem Cicilline Buonanno said the situation was uncomfortable, but pointed to the rules that govern membership on local boards and committees.
“When you join a committee, you have to be committed to make those meetings, they can’t change the schedule for you,” she said. She added that perhaps in the future, Alba could join a town body when he doesn’t have a conflicting commitment.