NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — The vacant Lighthouse Inn officially has a date with a wrecking ball — though the timeline for its demolition has not yet been determined.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) confirmed Tuesday that the state is moving forward with its plan to tear down the dilapidated hotel, which is located across from the Block Island Ferry terminal and a short distance from Salty Brine Beach in the Port of Galilee.
Court documents obtained by 12 News revealed the DEM is in the process of hiring a contractor to demolish the hotel. The DEM will also be responsible for removing debris and site restoration.
Though the DEM is funding the demolition outright, it’s unclear who will ultimately foot the bill. In a statement, DEM Programming Services Officer Evan LaCross said that part of the process “is the subject of ongoing litigation.”
“The stipulation filed in court specifically leaves open the ‘the proper determination and proper allocation of the costs associated with the demolition activities,'” LaCross explained.
The DEM must provide PRI X — that company in charge of the hotel’s parking lot — with no less than 10 days notice of the specific work it plans to undertake, according to court documents. The demolition must also not interfere with PRI X’s daily operations.
The Lighthouse Inn has sat vacant for years. The DEM had planned to level the hotel and repurpose the state-owned land last year, but that was brought to a halt after it was determined that a hazardous materials assessment needed to be conducted.
It’s unclear when the hotel will be torn down and exactly how much it will cost.
Meanwhile, the Narragansett Town Council is expressing concerns over the DEM’s plans for the property.
“The 5-acre site has tremendous development potential that can greatly benefit the state and town,” Narragansett Town Council President Ewa Dzwierzynski said. “We think it can be much more than surface parking.”
Dzwierzynski said the future of the Lighthouse Inn property is part of the town’s comprehensive master plan, which “envisions a future that better utilizes the land for a mix of commercial uses that will complement the fishing industry, tourism and recreation.”
“The state claims to have complete autonomy over this land,” she continued. “For me, the most unsettling aspects of this situation are that the state may demolish private property with taxpayer funds, the state has not rejected a lease renewal despite a breach of material terms and there is no apparent future vision for this site other than continued surface parking that has been made public … all while the lease holder enjoys great profits from parking revenue.”
Dzwierzynski added that the town has “great interest” in the land’s future use.
“The town would welcome the opportunity to be a partner in the future vision for Galilee,” Dzwierzynski said.