Love Your Library Coalition Urges Narragansett Town Council to Approve Properly Worded and Submitted Voter Initiatives

The Love Your Library Coalition is urging the members of the Narragansett Town Council to reject the flawed legal opinions put forward by Town Solicitor Mark Davis, Esq., and vote to approve the properly worded voter initiatives submitted by resident and Love Your Library champion Susan Cicilline-Buonanno.  Should the Council fail to approve these voter initiatives, which clearly follow the guidelines set forth in the town’s charter, Love Your Library is prepared to seek immediate relief in Superior Court.

Submitted on February 21st, the two voter initiatives would: 1) Require the Town Council to borrow $5.8 million in bonds to move the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library to a new space in the Pier Marketplace, as was approved by 68% of Narragansett voters in 2016, and 2) Prohibit the town from selling the Belmont/IGA Building, purchased in 2018 to be the library’s new home.

"As a solicitor with significant experience in Rhode Island, I worked with Susan and the Love Your Library Coalition in drafting these two voter initiative petitions in strict conformity with Chapter 4 of the Narragansett Home Rule Charter," stated the Coalition's attorney, Matthew Jerzyk, of William A. Farrell and Associates.

"I find little merit in the solicitor's opinions regarding these two petitions; opinions that would have the effect of Narragansett voters being denied the opportunity to vote again on town finances and the future of the library.  First, the solicitor claims that the first petition would change the bond act, when in fact the petition does not change the state bond statute at all.  Rather, the properly constructed ordinance provides for the issuance of the bond at the location that was advertised by the town in 2016.  Second, the solicitor attempts to invalidate the second petition claiming it is not ‘legislative,’ when in fact the petition is in the correct form as authorized by the Charter: the form of a resolution," Jerzyk continued.

“According to the Town Charter, voter initiatives may be used to -- ‘enact and/or rescind town laws, regulations, ordinances and resolutions’ -- and that is precisely what these two initiative would do: the first would enact an ordinance and the second would enact a resolution. As these voter initiatives are properly worded and follow the guidelines of the town’s charter, the Council should approve them at their March 18th public hearing.  If they do not, the Love Your Library Coalition will seek the relief provided for in the Charter: immediate judicial relief in Superior Court.”

“It is truly amazing and deeply disappointing that our town government continues to place obstacle after obstacle to following the clear will of Narragansett voters to move our library into a new space in the Pier Marketplace,” said Nancy DeNuccio, President of the Love Your Library Coalition.  “As the Town Council’s majority has made it clear that they will ignore the results of the 2016 library bond question, we have been forced to use the voter initiative process.  Now it appears they will attempt to block us from this option too, which is clearly spelled out in the town’s charter.  That is why the Love Your Library Coalition is prepared to take immediate legal action if the Council does not approve these voter initiatives at tonight’s meeting.  It is unfortunately that we may have to take this action, but we will not stop fighting until the will of Narragansett voters is followed and our wonderful library is moved into a new space in the Pier Marketplace.”