Letter: Public should attend Metacomet hearings

Posted 7/22/20

To the editor:During the 2018 campaign season, many — if not all — candidates for local and state office advocated for economic development in East Providence. They cited the potential …

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Letter: Public should attend Metacomet hearings

Posted

To the editor:
During the 2018 campaign season, many — if not all — candidates for local and state office advocated for economic development in East Providence. They cited the potential increase in tax revenues, job growth and the opportunity to attract both day trippers and potential new homeowners to our community. Many—if not all—of the voters agreed that economic development seemed like a swell idea. Sounded good to me.

What I envisioned, and what many others did as well, was aggressive marketing by our city leaders to finally develop the empty Chevron site west of the Parkway or the land that would be available along the new Waterfront Drive. Perhaps renewed focus on finding a suitable developer for the old Vamco site on Bullocks Pt. Avenue in Riverside. Maybe have a go at further developing industrial areas around Dexter Road and Massasoit Avenue. There are plenty more areas around the city just ripe for development or redevelopment. These are just a few.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that “economic development” would be the excuse to turn the pristine, admired, and much-beloved Metacomet golf club into a concrete jungle, plunk in the middle of the well-established residential neighborhoods surrounding it. Maybe we couldn’t tromp across the beautifully-manicured grass or—at least legally—take our sleds and swoosh down those inviting rolling hills after a snowstorm. We were happy just to look at it, to drive by it, and to think how lucky we were to live in such a lovely community with open space and a chance to enjoy the abundant wildlife to whom Metacomet is home.

This past week Marshall Properties, the potential developer of the Metacomet site, held a virtual “neighborhood” meeting to explain how awesome this new development would be if approved. Note that the plan presented at the Planning Board meeting in June allegedly wasn’t the “real” plan, but merely a placeholder plan that would evolve and take shape at some unknown future time after their desired rezoning is achieved. “Just trust us,” they seemed to say. “It will be a wonderful thing” or words to that effect.

Bill Conley, Marshall’s spokesman, told us we would have access to a wonderful site that we’ve never been able to use, that we should celebrate that this developer is willing to invest in our future, and that the icing on the cake would be access to 30 acres of open space for public use and enjoyment. Note that these 30 acres will be at the edge of Watchemoket Cove and unsuitable for development anyway.

Near the close of the meeting, one virtual attendee asked what it would take for them just to walk away, noting close to 3,000 signatures on petitions circulated door-to-door and online in opposition to this scale of development. Another Marshall spokesman derided this number, saying that supporters of a development project are not usually vocal in their support.

In a city the size of East Providence, open opposition by at least 3,000 people is nothing to sneer at. Opposers are not always vocal either. Opposers might not even be aware of what’s going on. I urge all East Providence residents to attend the City Council’s public meetings on August 6 and August 11, at 6pm, either virtually or in person at Martin Middle School. Details can be found in this paper in Public Notices.

The members of the City Council are our only firewall to stop this massive development in its tracks. Please let them know that this is not the right time nor the right place for this type of “economic development” in our city. If 3,000 people weren’t enough, maybe 48,000 of us would do the trick.

Please join the Facebook public group page Keep Metacomet Green! and join our membership list of nearly 1,300 members working together as a community.

Candy Seel
East Providence

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