After several weeks of speculation, it was confirmed this week that Deborah Kelso has decided to step down from her position as the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce's executive director.
Former chamber Treasurer William Scott also left the Narragansett Chamber's Board of Directors recently, stating that the move was indirectly related to the controversial discussions had by the chamber in recent months regarding R.I. Fast Ferry’s proposed high-speed ferry service from Quonset to Block Island.
Kelso and fellow Chamber members gained much attention and some scrutiny after opposing the proposed expansion and taking what some considered to be an "anti-free-market" position on the matter.
In a letter sent on behalf of the Chamber to the RI Division of Public Utilities and Carriers in July, Kelso wrote:
"The RI Fast Ferry to Block Island at the Quonset Industrial Park option will only siphon travelers who otherwise would be headed to Galilee. There is not enough of a geographical distance to attract new travelers from a new market."
During her 6-year stint with the Chamber, Kelso was also involved in a lawsuit entered into by the Narragansett Chamber, along with the Charlestown, Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area and North Kingstown chambers against the former South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. The lawsuit came about following the latter Chamber's decision to change its name to the Southern R.I. Chamber of Commerce - a move that the opposed chambers considered to be confusing and unnecessary. A Superior Court judge ultimately ruled against the lawsuit, but it did pave the way for the four organizations to form the United Chambers of Southern Rhode Island.
Frequently working on behalf of and advocating for Narragansett's business community, Kelso also served on the town's Economic Development Committee for four years, until resigning in March of 2013. She served as President of the Narragansett Lions Club from 2011 to 2012, as well.
According to Monday’s Town Council meeting agenda, councilors will publicly recognize Kelso for her years of service with the Chamber and to the Town of Narragansett.