Rep. Amore Says East Prov. Should Buy Metacomet Through Eminent Domain

Rhode Island State Representative Gregg Amore has issued a statement saying that the City of East Providence should buy Metacomet Golf Club through eminent domain. 

The announcement comes days after Marshall withdrew a petition for a zoning change, and two days before the historic golf club is set to close its doors. 

Amore’s Statement is as Follows: 

“As Marshall Properties comes to the residents of East Providence with an either-or proposition regarding the re-development of the Metacomet Country Club and their vision of what they think is best for the city’s future, I am offering a legitimate alternative that will allow the public to determine how best to utilize one of the limited greenspaces located in our city and in all of the urban core. 

I have submitted a House Resolution calling on the City of East Providence, through eminent domain, to purchase the 105-acre golf course for public use. I am proposing a municipal bond that may be supplemented through RIDEM grants, federal aid, various conservation organizations’ support and the forming of the Metacomet Conservancy Land Trust. I also believe that a crowdfunding campaign to support the purchase and preservation of this green space would have broad appeal to everyone from school children to environmentalists, here in East Providence and well beyond. I have written letters to Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline and Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Audubon Society, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Sierra Club of Rhode Island to ask for their assistance in this endeavor. 

As a lifelong resident of the City of East Providence, in a position to have an impact on the future of this magnificent parcel, I feel obligated to offer a bold solution that would protect this open, green space from commercial development and preserve it for public recreational use. Years from now, I would be filled with remorse and regret if I didn’t at least try to offer a plan to preserve this special space for future generations of Townies. Do the residents of East Providence not deserve a public space like residents of so many of our neighboring cities and towns enjoy? Whether it be a walk through Haines Park in Barrington, a bike ride through Slater Park in Pawtucket or a jog through Roger Williams Park in Providence, our neighbors enjoy access to recreational opportunities and open, green space that we do not. The people of East Providence deserve those same opportunities. 

Imagine an accessible open space abutting the Providence River with views of the Narragansett Bay and the Providence skyline in the distance. Imagine walking and jogging trails, picnic areas and an extension loop of the East Bay Bike Path across the parkway and through ‘Metacomet Park.’ Imagine parents and children sledding the hills on a snowy winter day during Christmas break. We have an opportunity to create a special public space along Veterans Memorial Parkway. A ‘parkway’ which was designed by Frederick Olmsted Jr. in his father’s grand tradition (Central Park in NYC, among others) of preserving and creating public green space for the benefit of us all. This proposal fits perfectly into the Olmsted vision of well- planned parks having a positive effect on human behavior and improving the lives of those who have access to them. This proposal also fits perfectly into the state’s mission for the use of greenspace bond money, which appropriately funds and protects coastal features, farmland and wooded acreage all over the state. This urban green space cries out for that same protection. 

It is crystal clear that the residents of East Providence are opposed to the destruction of an open space and the re- development of Metacomet Country Club. It is also clear that the redevelopment of this historic golf course and transforming its open, green space into another development covered in asphalt will have an adverse impact on the quality of life of East Providence residents. Beyond the overwhelming public opposition, neighborhood altering impact, and potential traffic congestion issues that are presented by the Marshall proposals, there are significant ecological and environmental concerns associated with commercial development. I draw your attention to the compelling public testimony of the former Executive Director of Save the Bay and former head of the New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Curt Spalding who stated, “Keeping the entire site as open space serves as an insurance policy against climate change. Viewed through the understanding of how climate change will affect Narragansett Bay and the residents of East Providence, the rezoning of Metacomet to commercial or residential is an entirely wrong-headed decision.” 

While Professor Spalding has expertly articulated the long term public interest in preserving Metacomet from an ecological and environmental standpoint, the residents of East Providence have convincingly and passionately petitioned their government and expressed their desire to Keep Metacomet Green. What I am proposing may be seen as a Hail Mary pass, but, anyone who watches football knows that those passes connect on occasion and it changes the outcome of the game. 

I have sent letters and a copy of the House Resolution to Mayor DaSilva and the members of the East Providence City Council asking them to support this proposal and to work with me and all interested parties in an effort to see that it comes to fruition.”

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