To the Editor:
The cultural lights were dimmed over Narragansett on the night of June 3rd when three council members led by the council president, Matthew Mannix, decided to deeply slash the library budget. This came after the same group of three chose to ignore the wishes of the 68% who voted to approve a referendum to purchase the former Belmont building and make it into a new and improved Narragansett library. These same three council members, Matthew Mannix, Jill Lawler, and Richard Lima, however, defied the referendum and the wishes of the people and decided to put the Belmont building, which was to be our new library, up for sale.
The results of their actions, if not successfully challenged, are many including that our town will have to reduce both library staff and normal library hours—a sad situation given that our town and our library have grown and prospered over the years. Another consequence is that we will no longer qualify for state funding because these three council members have decided not to “level-fund” the library, thus losing our state grant.
The efforts of these three council members clearly appear to most residents as an anti-library sentiment, threatening to put our library out of business. The intentions of these three people are difficult to decipher. The consequences of their intentions, however, are all too easy to imagine: a greatly diminished or non-existent library.
If I were not already a Narragansett resident, I’d have to seriously consider how moving to a town that doesn’t value a library will affect my family. Pro-library councilmen, Jesse Pugh and Patrick Murray, have tried gallantly to save our library and to enhance the lives of the people of Narragansett. For us saddened Narragansett residents, we have to look to 2020 when a new council will be chosen which will support community, family and cultural values in order to right this situation.
Ted Di Stefano