SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The South Kingstown Town Council unanimously approved a liquor license transfer Monday night from the former owner of Casey’s Restaurant to the owners of Rare Steak and Fish, a new restaurant scheduled to open in April in the former Casey’s location.
“We look to open this wonderful with restaurant to bring people together,” said James Laplume, co-owner of Rare. “It’s not just a place to grab a drink, it’s a family restaurant where you can get a great meal for a great price.”
The transfer is contingent upon the issuance of a certificate of good standing from the Rhode Island Division of Taxation, compliance with all town ordinances and regulations, the payment of any municipal taxes and user fees, the correction of any fire code violations and the satisfaction of all claims.
In a related motion, the town council also granted victualling and dance licenses to Rare.
Council members were excited about the prospect of a new restaurant, which is currently undergoing renovations.
“We’re hoping to open early to mid-April,” Laplume said. “We want to get it right. We want people to walk in and feel like, ‘Wow this is beautiful; this is where we want to spend our night.’”
Councilman Jim O’Neill questioned whether the dance license included games and billiards.
Town Solicitor Mike Ursillo said if Rare wanted to have a game room they would have to apply for a separate license.
Laplume said that while they applied for, and were granted a dance license, plans for music and dance-related entertainment are still being discussed.
“I was hoping I’d have a new dance spot along with casual, classy dining,” O’Neill said.
Council Vice President Carol Hagan McEntee asked Laplume what else the restaurant would serve aside from steak and fish. He said they would serve a variety of entrées including chicken, pork and side dishes.
The restaurateurs said they plan to shop locally for their produce and fish.
Charles Samaras, the other co-owner of Rare, previously told The Narragansett Times that his long-term goal is to become one of what he called “South County’s great restaurants.”
“There are great restaurants in South County, all types and sizes,” he said. “We just want to put our name on that list.”
In other town council business, the council held another public hearing regarding filing a “pre-agreement” request to the Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development on behalf of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County.
The request is for $120,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for program year 2013 to assist with the conversion of the Domestic Violence Resource Center’s conversion of their safe house facility to permanent supportive housing, the location of which is confidential.
The center plans to reconstruct their safe house into four units of permanent affordable housing and maintain a fifth unit as emergency shelter.
“The project is ready to proceed at this point,” said Vincent Murray, South Kingstown’s director of planning.
According to Murray, the center is also seeking funding from the Federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program and funding from Rhode Island’s Neighborhood Opportunities Program.
“They’re seeking multiple sources of funding concurrently as a deliberate approach to reach 100 percent of project funding,” Murray said.
He also said that these units would count toward the town’s requirements under the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act.
The project has all the necessary approvals from a regulatory standpoint, and has been vetted by the South Kingstown Planning Board and the South Kingstown Affordable Housing Collaborative Committee.
“As the council is aware, the [Domestic Violence Resource Center] has a long and distinguished track record in providing support and services to an at risk population,” Murray said.
The center hopes to begin construction as soon as Rhode Island Housing makes a decision on its application, hopefully by mid-March.
“This is a win-win for the organization, domestic violence and the Town of South Kingstown,” said Council Vice President McEntee.
Council President Ella Whaley called it “an exciting endeavor.”
The council also discussed the prospect of granting the South Kingstown Elks tax-exempt status, per a 1989 public law. The council decided to have Town Manager Steve Alfred meet with a representative from the Elks, while Urcillo drafts a potential ordinance. The council also requested that a member of the Elks be invited to attend the next town council meeting on Jan. 28 to discuss why the Elks should be tax exempt.
According to Councilwoman Margaret Healy, all other Elks organizations in the state, with the exception of South Kingstown and East Providence, are currently tax exempt.
In additional business, the council unanimously approved bids to Ferri Construction of North Providence, in the amount of $50,000, for construction of 10 dugout roofs at Broad Rock Playfields and Curtis Corner Playfields. The council approved an additional $11,032 to Lowe’s for materials for the roofs.
Council members also approved a $75,000 contract to Wright-Pierce of Providence for wastewater engineering design and construction management services for projects outlined in the capital improvement program. These projects include local pump station improvements and replacing the roof of the town’s wastewater treatment facility.
Finally, the town council reappointed William Wallace as tree warden for the town in 2013.
When asked how long Wallace has served as tree warden, Steve Alfred replied, “He came with the first tree.”
The council also reappointed Mark Archambault and William Salerno to the assessment board of review for terms ending in January 2016.
The town council will hold its final work session with the school committee tonight regarding the capital improvement plan at 6:30 p.m. The next regular town council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.