NO to COSTCO? Statements in from Cranston City Council candidates

2nd Proposed Cranston location also brings negative reactions from community, Cranston mayoral candidates, and City Council members and candidates.

Note: The developer has not responded to our request for comment.

COSTCO has been in the planning to come to Cranston for quite some time. It was first mentioned as a Phase Two of the proposed TopGolf development coming into Chapel View. Neighborhood opposition having to do with increased traffic and failed intersections at either end of Sockanosset Crossroad, as well as run-off and gas station environmental concerns soon quieted the call for COSTCO.  

However, the city now has the proposal before it for the greater Mulligan’s Island land. The business owner no longer wants to operate Mulligan’s and the land – having successfully fought off BJs, some years ago, now finds itself faced with opposition to an even larger big box threat as well as other phases of development.

A few weeks back, RINewsToday published statements from the candidates for Mayor of Cranston. A link to that story is here: 

It is important to know that Cranston will have a mayor change as well as several members of the City Council, so knowing how candidates feel about impending proposals becomes even more important.

Link to prior story:

Polling Cranston City Council Candidates:

We sent emails to the 18 people running for re-election or first-time election, and print their responses, below.  (Note: we did not receive responses from all members – see bottom of article)

“Please send us your position on COSTCO being proposed for the Mulligan’s Island property. If you could limit your statement to 250 words. Thank you.”

(In the order they were received)

Paul Bucci:

“I am 100% against the Costco proposal. It is too big of a project with too many unanswered questions regarding the environmental impact. If elected to the City Council, I would take a neighborhoods-first approach in dealing with economic development and there is nothing neighborhoods-first about this Costco proposal.  

If that area is going to be developed, whatever goes in there must fit in with the surrounding area. The residents of Oak Hill and Mayfield Ave are not against economic development and understand the Mulligan’s owner’s right to sell the land. However, they want to make sure that any future development is right for their neighborhoods.  

One argument for Costco is the increased tax revenue it will bring to our city, however if this proposal becomes a reality, property values will go down. In addition, and more importantly, the quality of life will go down and that is something you cannot put a price on.”


Jessica Marino:

“Residents rightfully want, deserve and demand that their voices be heard, and responses of our elected officials should be representative of them and clear in their actions. Residents first and foremost are the foundation of our great City. 

Specific to Mulligan’s Island and the Costco proposal for that location, residents worked hard over ten years ago with their elected officials in the City, and through that collaboration resulted in a development that struck the right balance. If I were elected to serve as Citywide Councilwoman, I would work to ensure that this property is not developed as proposed with the elimination of open green space, potential water runoff problems for nearby residents, every day quality of life impacts with increased noise, traffic, light pollution, a strain on our school system, and less of a buffer between this residential community and the ACI facilities, just to name a few of the negative impacts. In addition, the loss in revenue in taxes to the City due to potential depreciation in value to those nearby homes cannot be ignored from a fiscal standpoint.  We are in a historic pandemic such that commercial retail and restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open and our efforts as a City should be helping with state and federally funded grant programs/working with our partners at the local and state level, Chamber of Commerce, and other measures to help those existing businesses stay afloat. We should not as a city assume that adding additional commercial space is going to be of significant tax benefit when considering all of these factors.

It is also environmentally irresponsible in 2020, to ignore the impacts on the environment by paving over an area of ever shrinking green space. All new proposals for commercial development should require green building designs and promote responsible green energy.

Preservation of open space and protection of residential neighborhoods cannot be overlooked when considering commercial development. Commercial development has its place in this City, but it must be fiscally and environmentally responsible. This property, as it stands, is a gem of a balance and we should preserve the integrity of that property as best we can for the benefit of our City, which is why this Costco development proposal is not the right fit for our City.” 


Don Roach:

“The position I have on Costco is the position I have on all major development in the city – resident input should not be a luxury, but a requirement. I would love a Costco in the city, but as proposed, it does not fit within the spirit of our community, and residents have made their voices heard. Why not build a recreational center at that location? I’d love for the owner of Mulligan’s to sit down with both the city and the community and come up with a plan for this area. 

But I’m tired of residents being on the defense. If elected, I will work towards including residents early in any process, and more, include residents who wish to take a proactive stance towards development in the city. We have a number of areas in our neighborhoods where smart development can enhance our already beautiful city such as the Rolfe Square area and the corner of Park and Warwick Avenues. Let’s listen to residents and develop areas in a smart and friendly way; this Costco proposal does not fit.”


John Donegan:

“I’ve had the opportunity to question the development, and voice my concerns about the environmental impacts, and detrimental effect it would have on the abutting neighborhoods. While the job creation, and increased tax revenue is enticing, it is important that economic development respects the integrity of our neighborhoods; I do not believe that this proposal does that. As such, I do not support the proposal before us.”


Ed Brady:

“We are currently trending towards a structural budget deficit with numerous business closures, declining revenues, and additional state aid also on the decline due to COVID-19. As community leaders we need to be proactive and recruit new business while also supporting our current small businesses throughout Cranston to prevent additional closures. If we do not our residents will inevitably see a tax increase next year during these extremely difficult times, or in addition to many city departments having to make hard cuts throughout the city. These are the harsh realities of our current economic climate. I believe in responsible development and am thankful COSTCO is considering Cranston as a location for business. We learned if Costco would potentially bring, at a minimum, $500,000 in additional annual revenue for the city, in addition to hundreds of jobs during a tough job climate. However, this current proposal does not currently work for this site as we have heard from numerous concerned citizens that this proposal is too much, which I agree with. I have received many heartfelt emails/phone calls against this current proposal, and they are certainly well heard and received. Unfortunately, Mulligan’s Island is going out of business. I sincerely appreciate and am thankful for nearly 20 years of FUN that Mulligan’s provided our Cranston community. We need to continue to work together with the developer and neighborhood to find compromise in positive development that would work at this site by continuing to work with the neighbors in an open and transparent process. This difficult site located next to the prison needs to be a revenue producer for our city but definitely not at the cost of lessening the quality of life for the local neighborhoods. With the city possibly going to bond for over 100 million dollars for our much-needed school improvements we unfortunately cannot undertake an additional cost to purchase this land for 6-8 million dollars and keep it as open space. I look forward to continue to listen to the neighbors and the developers and ultimately hopefully finding a compromise or a location somewhere in our city for COSTCO while also finding a resolution for this important site.” 


Zachary Sailer:

“I am a pro-business advocate and am excited that any company can consider Cranston as a landing spot due to our pro-business policy. I know of the community’s resistance to the idea, but I attended the site walk to give the developer of COSTCO a fair shake. After listening to the developer, I stand with the neighbors of this area. The lack of attention to the ability to prevent water run-off, heavy traffic concerns, and lack of commitment to leave the space between the COSTCO and the neighborhood undeveloped were my key factors in the opposition to the proposal as it currently stands. Should the developer decide to give attention to this matter and show us how they will prevent these pertinent issues, I certainly will not be opposed to listening to a newer, more careful proposal. I believe the proper appropriation of this land would be to build an indoor recreation facility to invest in the health and wellness of our residents. Having a state-of-the-art facility to host sporting events attracts regional events which will create an increase of traffic to our local businesses and give us an opportunity to showcase why Cranston is a great city to live and work. This is an investment in each and every resident and keeps the value of responsible development at the crux of our decision-making.”


Nicole Renzulli:

“I am firmly against the COSTCO development as it has been proposed at the current site of Mulligan’s Island. I am very pro-business, and I believe bringing business to Cranston will be a key to our continued growth and prosperity, but certainly not at the expense of our quality of life and neighborhoods. Neighbors have made excellent points about how noise, rodents, pollution, traffic, and flooding have the potential to impact the neighborhood and citizens of Cranston negatively. I found the developer’s responses to these issues to be unsatisfactory. 

The people have made their voices heard and want to preserve open space in this area. I strive to be an active leader who learns from, and ultimately reflects those she serves. As a mother and a coach for hundreds of Cranston’s kids, I would really love to see a public/private partnership with more recreational fields and perhaps a fieldhouse on this land. Walking paths and an enclosed dog park would also go well with the character of the area. 

I believe a balanced approach to development is critical and the COSTCO proposal presented is simply not that, BUT I do think we should work to find another location for this build. COSTCO is well-known as an employer who provides great pay and health benefits to its employees.  Cranston residents want and need good jobs, and the tax income would certainly help the City, especially as part of our COVID-19 recovery.”


Lammis Vargas:

“As noted, when I was at the joint Council and Planning Commission mtg – I do not support [the] Mulligan’s [proposal]. Cranston’s need [for] open space is needed. I’ll entertain and welcome a conversation with the community and its surrounding neighbors on thoughts and suggestions regarding this location. Neighborhood input is important, clearly when developers are coming into our city. I’m pro-business, will also have a conversation with people who are interested in our city, but it must be done right. We have a community who came out strongly against this proposal of a big box store. We have a community who are taxpayers and contributors of our great city, and who are here in Cranston because of our quality of life. As [a] Councilwoman, I will assure [residents] that I work for what is best for our Cranston.”


Robert Ferri:

“I always feel that there needs to be the correct balance between business and neighborhoods.  One cannot survive without the other.

At this point there is so much opposition that it would be difficult for the project to get approved. That is just my gut feeling. 

I have been a resident of Cranston for 36 years.  I have faced a few things I have not been in favor of during my years here, so it is understandable how some are so passionate about this. 

I am sure of one thing.  If after I see and hear all the facts, if the project does not fit, I will not be in favor of it.  

I will do my best to get all the information.  I will do my best to protect the process. If elected I will do my best to protect the neighborhood.

Again, if the project does not belong there after all the facts are presented, I will not be in favor of it.”


Aniece Germain:

“Since the news of the announcement of COSTCO’s proposed large-scale development at the site of Mulligan’s Island, I have received numerous emails and phone calls from residents throughout Cranston opposing this plan. I understand the concerns of these families about the negative impact that this development may have on the quality of their life, particularly those who live near Mulligan’s Island. As I stated in my responses to the concerned residents, I couldn’t draw a conclusion on whether to support or oppose the plan without learning the facts.

On August 11, at the joint site visit of the Planning Commission and City Council, I had the opportunity to question Mr. DiGuiseppe on his plan and its impact on the quality of life of Cranston residents. After his presentation, I am convinced I cannot support this development plan as presented. 

Although I believe economic development and opportunities for growth in our city are essential to moving Cranston forward, we need to put our people’s quality of life first in our decisions as city councilors. I encourage all stakeholders to come to the table, explore new perspectives, and I hope we can find a consensus that will be beneficial to all parties. I am committed to listen to my constituents’ voices and to make decisions that serve the interest of all of us.” 


Dylan Zelazo:

I have visited the surrounding neighborhood to the proposed development multiple times, including attending the neighborhood meeting, the City Council and Planning walk through, and speaking directly with neighbors. I have reviewed all of the documents that have been made publicly available. The voters should know that I will always do my due diligence and work to understand all sides of an issue. 

After looking at all of this information, I do not support the large scale, high intensity development that is being proposed for the site. 

I am a proponent of economic development. It’s critical to growing our revenue base without increasing taxes on current taxpayers. It is also the best way to ensure that our local amenities are modern and desirable. I am aware that this current issue could send a message to COSTCO and other potential businesses that they are not welcome. It is vital that Cranston be open for business and I have spoken to many residents throughout the city who want a COSTCO. This is simply the wrong location for a large, big box development – next to a quiet, established neighborhood. 

This decision is in the hands of the Cranston City Council, and I believe that this vote should be a clear ‘no’ for this site. However, I also believe that the Mayor’s Administration, the City Council, and COSTCO should work together to find a more suitable location for the development. This is an opportunity for revenue and job creation and would add another convenience for Cranston’s residents. Additionally, if Mulligan’s cannot be saved, all interested parties should work together to make sure that the property is reused in a manner that respects the integrity of the surrounding neighborhood, and ideally generates new taxes for the City, or adds recreational amenities at the same time.” 


Matt Reilly:

“As a lifelong resident of Cranston, and candidate for city council to represent my neighbors in Ward 6, I can unequivocally state that I am 100% against this proposal. I am 100% against any possible variation of this proposal. It is wrong for the area. My decision is based on the obvious detrimental effects this development will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. In general, I am very much in favor of commercial development when it benefits the local area. This plan does not benefit anyone except the developer. This area is at capacity. You cannot put any more on the backs of the residents of Ward 6 in Cranston. Between the traffic congestion, Harrington Hall, panhandlers, and the State’s overuse of the Pastore Center… enough is enough.

I stand with the residents of Oak Hill and Laura Circle in opposition of this proposal, or any variation of it. I will always keep an open mind when it comes to development but this proposal on its face is awful and will have severe detrimental effects to Cranston. 

I will be happy to assist the developer in finding a suitable site here in Cranston as COSTCO would be a great addition to our city, but not at Mulligan’s Island. 

That site is zoned for an open space recreational use, and that is what it should remain. With just a small amount of thought and creativity we can assist the seller in finding someone that will make that site work, as zoned. 

If there are ever any questions I can answer or you wish to discuss this more, please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell, 401-374-1440. Thank you.”


Chris Paplauskas:

“I normally wait for the planning commission to do their due diligence when it comes to proposals and see what the recommendations are they send the council before I comment. That being said I hear the neighbors concerns loud and clear and will take all of their concerns and comments into consideration when it comes time for a vote. I appreciate the emails and comments that have been sent to me and I encourage the neighbors to keep sending them so there voices are heard. 

No responses as of publication from:

Paul Archetto

Larry Warner

RI Speaker of the House’s campaign literature touts his position NO to COSTCO
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