NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Hoping to thwart a developer’s plans to put a large parking lot on leased state land in Galilee, Narragansett is turning to an architect to provide alternatives to replace the former Dutch Inn hotel.
The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put out a request for an architect to produce renderings of potential uses for the southern end of Galilee.
The move comes several weeks after the council voted to hold a visioning workshop for the hotel property, which is state land that’s leased to the Procaccianti Group through its PRI X limited liability corporation.
Last month, 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.
Council member Ewa Dzwierzynski introduced the measure and referred to the 1997 Galilee Development Plan commissioned by then Gov. Lincoln Almond and completed by consultants Cecil & Rizvi Inc.
“I believe the vision for land-side uses in this plan are even more relevant today than when first envisioned in the 1997 plan,” Dzwierzynski said. “We don’t need a vision plan, we need an action plan.”
The 1997 plan de-emphasizes parking as a land use and instead calls for creating a 10-acre zone specifically for “mixed-use, tourism-related development that may include additional hotel and meeting space, retail uses, and restaurants.”
The plan noted the “redevelopment must be of an adequate scale and character to create a ‘critical mass’ of uses that will allow Galilee to become a tourism destination in its own right.”
The architect hired by the town would provide at least three development options: one that is predominantly hotel use, a second that combines mixed-use retail and housing with surface parking, and a third that focuses on mixed-use also, but with structured parking such as a parking garage and other special uses.
Other council members expressed concerns over the cost of an architect, ad the fact that the town has no control over what the state does with the land. Dzwierzynski said she envisioned the work costing $20,000 or less.
“When you look at the big picture the cost may look like a lot, but I beg to differ. It’s kind of one of our last-ditch efforts to make this happen,” she said. The renderings would ideally provide “clear guidance” to PRI X and the state for what the town wants to see develop at the site.
“If it is $20,000 or below I think it could be money well spent as well,” Council President Jesse Pugh said.
Economic Development Committee Chairman Paul Zonfrillo reported that the EDC voted 6-1 to support commissioning the renderings.
“It’s an important tool because we’re trying to win an influence war right now with the state, and the more ammunition we have, the better,” he said.
An architect’s three-dimensional renderings could serve as guidelines for redevelopment and help build public support for future land uses, according to Dzwierzynski. They also could be made a part of future requests for proposals for redevelopment issued by the DEM.
Also included in the council’s motion is a plan for public stakeholder meetings involving the community and government officials including the Town of Narragansett, DEM and abutting property owners and tenants.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to get this right,” Dzwierzynski said.