NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Plans for the former Lighthouse Inn property in Galilee to become a large parking area with just a few shops could undergo changes, Narragansett’s town manager told the Town Council Tuesday.
Developer PRI X, the arm of the Procaccianti Group that leases the property from the state, has put together an alternative plan for the site, James Tierney said. What that plan is hasn’t been revealed, but could be known soon.
Tierney received the update from state Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit.
“Also, DEM has offered to have another workshop to bring the higher-ups from the company together with the stakeholders from town here, not just to oppose it but to come up with something that would work for the town as well,” he said.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday at the end of a five-hour meeting to approve a resolution that opposes plans by PRI X to turn the site of the Dutch Inn for many years into a small retail plaza backed by more than 500 parking spaces.
Council member Ewa Dzwierzynski, who is on the Galilee Lease Advisory Committee, drafted the resolution.
“Basically we want more than is what is proposed,” Dzwierzynski said. “It’s basically more parking … I wholeheartedly believe that Narragansett and Galilee deserve better.”
Dzwierzynski said she prefers the town to be a partner with the developer rather than an adversary.
“We don’t want to miss out on an opportunity for quality development that contributes to the quality of the fishing village of Galilee,” she said.
The property at 307 Great Island Road is owned by the state, and served as a lodging facility for many decades, starting in the 1950s when large tuna fishing tournaments came to town.
Under current plans, the rear portion of the hotel structure would be demolished, while the front area would get a “significant face lift” for 8,000 square feet of retail shops to occupy the space.
The parking area behind the shops would not be a paved lot. About 150 spaces would be added, bringing the total to 544, including spaces in front of the shops.
PRI X would seek tenants once it had state approval for the project, but envisions businesses such as a coffee and bagel shop.
PRI X operated the seasonal hotel over the years but in 2017 decided to change operations by demolishing the building and changing to a parking operation. The town and businesses expressed reservations, and suggested mixed-use instead.
But attempts to put a large restaurant on the site ran into a number of roadblocks. Attempts to draw more high-profile tenants have been unsuccessful, according to PRI X.
The state would like to see the property put to use soon, given that last year’s business was lost due to COVID. Lease rates and parking rates are set by the state DEM.
The council has no direct say over any deal between the developer and the state, but Tierney and council members have been quick to voice their opinions given the local concern about what will become of the now-vacant property, which Procaccianti bought about 20 years ago.
“Just looking at social media, this has instantaneously become the issue for people,” Council President Jesse Pugh said. “It’s like the library issue all over again.”
Dzwierzynski said State Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee has had talks with both DEM and incoming Gov. Dan McKee while he has been lieutenant governor about the Galilee development plans.
“She’s been really working hard on this issue to see something more go there,” Dzwierzynski said.