October 20, 2020

Lifelong Townies' Perspective on Metacomet

Posted

As persons who were born and raised in East Providence, we were sad to learn that the beautiful Metacomet Country Club was closing and was sold to a private developer. As lifelong Townies, we find it hard to believe that anyone in our city would not wish that the entire property of Metacomet Country Club could be preserved as open space. If only… unfortunately, it is not that simple. We would like to share our thought processes here in hopes that we can come together as a community in a way that serves all.

When we first contemplated the idea of keeping the entire property as open space, we quickly realized that doing so would not be feasible for many legitimate reasons:

  • The property is privately owned. The very idea that a private business owner can be forced to sell its property to the government is repugnant to the freedom our country holds dear. Such action could destroy East Providence’s hope for economic growth as it would create grave concerns for any business that is considering a move to the city of East Providence. Why invest millions of dollars into a city that appears to be unfriendly?
  • With the COVID crisis and the resultant economic hardship, our city sadly cannot afford to take on the financial burden of buying and maintaining the entire parcel as open space.

Then we considered the idea of keeping Metacomet as a golf course. However, there are several considerations that do not support this possibility:

  • First, Metacomet County Club has never been open to the public for all to enjoy. It was a private club for members only. So, in realty, those who have benefited most from the country club have been its members, not the surrounding community.
  • Second, Metacomet, as a privately owned golf course is no longer a viable business. It has been suffering financial hardship for some time. Consequently, sale of the private property to a developer was inevitable.
  • Third, as a country club, Metacomet has not greatly contributed to the revenue tax base of the city since, as with many country clubs, it is taxed as either open space or farmland. Our neighboring municipalities (Barrington and Pawtucket) each host only ONE private country club. East Providence is currently home to FOUR golf courses. We must consider the financial burden this loss of tax revenue has created for our city.

So, what is our next best option? We believe our city is faced with a situation that is not entirely negative. It is imperative that our city government work with a private buyer that is willing to consider and incorporate the needs of our community. It is our duty, as citizens, to insist that the process remain transparent. Therefore, our city government must guarantee that whatever development does occur heeds the following stipulations:

  1. A portion of open space must be kept open and available for community use.
  2. The developed portion should be most suitable for the existing environment – for instance, there is a need for housing in East Providence.
  3. The developed portion should produce the greatest possible return in tax dollars for the city-the offer the city is presently considering proposes an ANNUAL tax revenue to the city of 8 MILLION DOLLARS.
  4. The developer and city government must guarantee that ANY development will not have a negative impact on the environment of the neighboring constituency.
  5. The city government must carefully consider the history and reputation of any proposed developer before any commitments are entered into. The city does not need another development fiasco like the Geonova debacle. (It is our understanding that Marshall Construction, a locally owned East Providence business, has a stellar reputation and it appears that they are willing to work with the city government.)

Most of all, we ask that, as citizens of East Providence, we accept the limitations of our reality and work together to do what is best for our city. We can compromise what we wish for and balance it against what we can afford. Accusations, innuendo and castigation of those with opposing views on social media are totally non-productive. Let us stay the course and move forward together towards a positive resolution to this vexing problem.

Manny and Stephanie Vinhateiro

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