In reflection, 2021 has been an impactful year filled with many personal and town accomplishments.  

This year I learned a lot about time management. I was proud to serve on a council that took on so many important issues including building a new state-of-the-art library, amending student housing ordinances to balance quality of life issues in our local neighborhoods, and fighting for a seat at the table to guide the future prosperity and redevelopment of a 5-acre vacant parcel in Galilee. These are just a few of the many issues and policies that shape and affect our beloved town every day.

I lost sleep while weighing the housing ordinance vote, but I always did my homework, voted my conscience, and tried to respond to residents’ best interests. I did this while working at two hospitals, volunteering at various COVID vaccination clinics, balancing family life…all while completing a degree in political science at URI in May. My motto: if something is important to you, you’ll find time to get it done—and I always do! My experience has been fulfilling.

At our first council meeting, I was appointed to both the Galilee Advisory and the Galilee Lease Advisory Committees. I never imagined this would lead to a battle to contest a surface parking lot and suburban strip development in the village center. I quickly realized the town needed a seat at the table to champion the vision in the town’s comprehensive master plan. From resolutions, agenda items focused on Galilee, to informational videos, to workshops, as well as community outreach, we shed light on the State’s (and their lessee’s) questionable stewardship of the former Lighthouse Inn.

Our perseverance culminated in an RFP process and opportunity for the Town to submit an ambitious, bold, and complex redevelopment proposal for land-side parcels in Galilee which implements the town’s Galilee Special District Plan, supporting the fishing industry. If selected, we can catalyze transformational development that will strengthen the Blue Economy in the Port of Galilee. Real property tax revenue could increase from $20,000 (current taxes on Lighthouse Inn) to over $620,000 a year if developed to its potential.

As the council liaison for Galilee, I have done all I can to create this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it will take the support of the entire council, the town staff, the state, stakeholders, and the private sector to bring our plan to fruition.

While the town awaits the final decision expected by mid-January, I wanted to thank all those who supported our efforts with respect to the vision for Galilee.

In some ways, opposing a deep-pocketed developer’s plan for a surface parking lot feels equivalent to the biblical story of David and Goliath. I may not have the same wealth and political connections, but rather its heart, courage, and commitment that has put us on the doorstep of a great opportunity.

We must think bigger than the challenge. We are bigger than the obstacle. We must remain confident that it is possible to prevail.  So here’s to Narragansett—may “David” conquer and be victorious.

It has been an honor and privilege serving the town and residents this past year. I look forward to continuing the hard work to make Narragansett a great place to live, work, and visit.

Ewa Dzwierzynski

Narragansett

The author is a member of the Narragansett Town Council.

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