“Never heard of it until I read the Beacon.”
The words were those of William Russo, who, since he retired from the Warwick Police Department, has been involved in community events, even running for the Ward 7 City Council seat on more than one occasion.
Russo was one of about 40 people to attend an informational meeting Tuesday hosted by those proposing to build the 127-room Apponaug Waterfront Hotel. If anyone, Russo would have been expected to know about the proposal.
He didn’t, but that doesn’t mean there were some nefarious doings at City Hall.
The fact is, a hotel for the Station Street site, just east of Amtrak and bordering Apponaug Cove, was first suggested about five years ago. The plan never reached the level of formal review by the Planning Department and faded from public view. But the developers moved on, meeting with city planners and learning of potential objections should they go forward. The initial plan was revised and the project downsized from the original proposal of an eight-story tower with 187 rooms. They also met with the Coastal Resources Management Council and revised plans to eliminate any development within the 200-foot coastal buffer.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the audience was generally receptive to the proposal with a few individuals either whole-heartedly opposed to the development or enthusiastically favoring it as a means of stimulating businesses and revitalizing the village. Some good questions over traffic and the bottleneck created by the two-lane railroad underpass, which would be a short distance from the hotel entrance, were raised. There were also concerns about the impact of the development on the “pristine” nature of the cove. A number of residents on both sides of the cove would have an unobstructed view of the hotel.
That’s true. If hotel guests have a view of the cove – the unique feature of this venue compared to other Warwick hotels – waterfront residents would also get to look at the hotel.
Understandably, that is upsetting to some people. Yet, the prospect of such a major development (between $21 million and $23 million) would surely have an impact on the village and jobs. The hotel would create 120 full-time and 30 to 35 part-time jobs.
As one woman observed, “I don’t mind a hotel but I don’t want to see it.”
Of course, that would be impossible. However, the fact developers have entered into a dialogue with the community is positive. They are looking for solutions, and maybe in the end they won’t come up with enough revisions to meet community concerns.
Now is the time for the community to become engaged, or stand aside and let others decide.