Home Correction letter Letter: Let’s hope the struggle for Galilee has not been in vain | Opinion

Letter: Let’s hope the struggle for Galilee has not been in vain | Opinion


With our newly elected Narragansett City Council and legislators, may we work together to prevent RIDEM from continuing to violate the zoning ordinances of our town of Narragansett in the Galilee. This year, RIDEM continued to allow PRIX to maintain its use of the parking lots on the five-acre plot in the Galilee despite the expiration of its lease. Additionally, the parking lots are operated in violation of our city ordinances.

In an email I received from former City Council Speaker Jesse Pugh, he noted that the Narragansett Building Manager’s Office had advised by certified letter that on September 23, all owners of parking lots in the Galilee , requiring a special use permit, had to apply within 30 days or be in violation of the city ordinance. This includes the batch operated by Procaccianti Developers. I hope our new city council does not allow the developers of Procaccianti and all parking operators in the Galilee to continue to blatantly ignore our city’s ordinances.

RIDEM also enabled Procaccianti Developers to abandon the Lighthouse Inn which now poses a health, safety and environmental hazard. RIDEM is supposed to protect our environment, but it allowed Procaccianti developers to create one of the worst environmental horrors and hazards on state-leased land in US history.

In a recent opinion piece in the Providence Journal, Save the Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone states that “the structure of CRMC is fundamentally flawed and requires immediate correction by the Governor and General Assembly” because it it was an enabler of the Champlin Marina to be illegally expanded. The illegal expansion would have increased the size (doubled) of the Champlin marina, as found by research by journalist Jim Hummel. Without the city’s resistance, the Supreme Court would never have heard the case to strike down the expansion.

I agree with Stone’s assessment of CRMC, but strongly disagree with his statement regarding RIDEM. He noted that unlike agencies like RIDEM, whose director is responsible for the decisions of the agency, no member of the Board is responsible for their decision. In my opinion, the RIDEM and its director were equally negligent, as were the officials of the CRMC in their inaction in trying to stop the expansion of the Champlin marina. The Director of RIDEM did not step in to oppose and prevent the illegal expansion of the Champlin Marina, even though expansion of the Champlin Marina would cause great damage to the fragile ecosystem of The Great Salt Pond.

I would add that the director of RIDEM, Terrance Gray, failed in the mismanagement of the five-acre parcel in the Galilee, because the Lighthouse Inn was intentionally abandoned by Procaccianti and Paolino, and RIDEM previously announced that it wanted the state to pay for the demolition. However, due to public outcry, RIDEM has announced that they will now have the Lighthouse Inn inspected to see if it is salvageable or needs to be demolished due to toxic waste. The inspection should be completed shortly. RIDEM also generated a tender and flatly rejected the proposal from the town of Narragansett without considering any type of compromise. How can the actions of RIDEM be beneficial for the State, the city, its citizens and professional fishermen?

More recently, the City of Narragansett authorized the University of Rhode Island to conduct a research study to determine the best use of the parcel. The research will be completed in December and is led by Dr. Will Green and professional landscape architect Charles Carberry. Let’s hope that our fight for Galilee has not been in vain. Hopefully our new city council and general assembly will not turn a deaf ear to the will of the people and the URI research study. Hopefully our City Council will not allow RIDEM to ignore our City’s ordinances without consequences. Members of this council such as Susan Cicilline Buonanno and others led the fight for a modern, state-of-the-art library. Hopefully this advice will not be forever remembered for saving a library but failed to save our village in Galilee. Do not pave paradise.

Albert Alba