A new community organization, Narragansett 2100, hopes to add another side to the debate over the town’s student rental properties by representing landlords and property managers in Narragansett.
According to Ray Kagels, the group’s founder and president, landlords are the “missing link” in the discussions that have intensified following a party last May in the Eastward Look neighborhood. “We’re in a position to help the town see where they’ve gone right and where they’ve gone wrong,” he said.
Kagels has criticized the ad-hoc committee formed in the wake of what was widely referred to as a “riot” for overstepping their bounds by suggesting new tax policy, ordinances and other punitive measures to help curb student rental issues. “They’ve gone way beyond their charter,” Kagels said.
Town Manager Pamela Nolan, who spearheaded the creation of the current and former ad-hoc committees is thrilled to see the landlord’s opinions entering the conversation. “That’s a voice that’s very important and we never really hear from them,” she said, adding that landlords had almost no representation previously. “Now we can understand what their concerns are.”
Nolan refutes any overreach, however, saying the committee was formed “to examine the whole of the problem in Narragansett and make suggestions to the Town Council that could lead to resolutions of the problem, so there’s no limits on this”
Narragansett 2100 and Kagels have also been outspoken opponents of many of the punitive measures, like increased rental registration fees and ordinance and tax policy changes, that have been imposed on all landlords in response to what both Nolan and Kegal agree is a small percentage of irresponsible landlords. “That’s a problem that our ad-hoc committee is studying,” Nolan said.
One suggestion that Kagels has strongly fought is an ordinance that would restrict the number of non-related tenants in a house to just three.
“There are people who have very strong voices on both sides of the issue,” Nolan said to attribute suggestions like these. “And they tend to get all the press. But the public shouldn’t think that’s what’s going to happen here.”
The committee, which is set to expire at the end of June after one year, will be presenting its recommendations to the town council earlier that month. It will be up to the town council to enact whichever pieces they decide.
Nolan said these loud voices are being heard too early. “The council doesn’t want to hear them now and they don’t want to hear just one voice,” she said. “They want this to be a compilation of all the work that’s gone in by the committee…They want to hear the whole story, that’s why the landlord group is so important.”
Narragansett 2100, a reference to the approximate number of landlords in the town, launched what Kagels referred to as a “postcard campaign” last fall in an effort to reach out to the town’s other landlords. “The word is still getting out,” he said
Kagels met with Nolan and Narragansett Police Chief Dean Hoxsie last week. “I think it went very positively,” Kagels said.
The next public meeting of the ad-hoc committee is Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Narragansett Town Hall.