Further development of the Winnapaug golf course has led to some confusion over the details, but the actual plans show that this is a $150 million project that includes four bedroom “cottages” on the 13th green, a hotel where the parking lot is now, dormitory work force housing right of the first tee, mid- to low-income housing behind the fourth green and a new sewer line. There is talk that Winnapaug isn’t “sustainable” in its current form, yet COVID-19 has led to a golf boom that has evaded this course, and most players say that is due to the dirt fairways and the alienation of its members.
If preserving this Donald Ross course is the main objective, why spend $150 million when just a few million dollars and some new policies could accomplish the same goal. The community has been greatly improved over the last 15 years by a number of expensive projects, but the difference here is that this isn’t about enhancement — this is about worker housing and obviously making money.
It’s hard to believe that another hotel, dormitories and low-income housing are the best way forward for our beach community. The zoning officials seem to be supporting this, so right now it’s very likely that the money and power players who wrote the zoning changes will make it happen. If this is to be stopped, a major effort by Westerly residents is required. Anyone interested in contributing time or resources should attend the town meeting on Oct. 19 and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.