As a property owner and abutter, having reviewed the plans for the St. Pius housing project (https://www.westerlyri.gov/documentcenter/view/7919) I am opposed to the scope and breadth of the project as currently planned. I consider the grand scale of this new rental apartment complex to be far less than optimal in terms of aesthetics and conformity to the existing neighborhood. Additionally, the requested waiver of density requirements is certain to meet with unintended consequences. For example, the lack of sufficient parking is but one concern, not allowing enough parking spaces for two residents, or the resident and guests of a single-bedroom apartment, nor enough for guests based on the number of units and beds proposed. Vehicles will have no choice but to park off the property, adding to what is already a precarious traffic situation in the area of School and Elm Street. The developers have stated that no children are expected to live in this apartment complex, which is simply illogical. At the same time, they have also stated that Wilcox Park will provide any outdoor needs that resident children may have. This is not only contradictory but does not provide for the realistic needs of families that will reside in a tenement this large. The concern for safety should be obvious given the existing high volume of traffic in the area. This is not an office building (although it looks like one). Children need a safe space for outdoor activity on premises. Additionally, there are no plans for a playground or for parking lot walkways or crosswalks because it would conflict with the minimum number of legally required parking spaces. This poses a hazard for children and the elderly. The former St. Pius property is in a historic district. The last thing the neighborhood needs is the likes of a Residence Inn or Holiday Inn Express at the corner of two of the most historic streets in town, School, and Elm, which is exactly what is being proposed. It doesn’t fit in. The developer is aware of this and has proposed cosmetic changes that do not address the fact that too much is being planned in too little a space. Ten pounds do not fit in a five-pound bag. Now is the appropriate time for the town to take action to preserve the character and charm of this neighborhood, and this town, by taking a realistic approach to our continued expansion.
The town of Westerly Planning Board will meet to discuss the project tonight at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.