Design Committee unanimously recommends approval of MetLinks golf plan

Refurbished nine-hole layout could open in June if full Waterfront Commission is in support

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/10/24

The Design Review Committee sub-set of the Waterfront Commission unanimously recommended to the full body to approve the new nine-hole golf course at the former site of the Metacomet Country Club.

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Design Committee unanimously recommends approval of MetLinks golf plan

Refurbished nine-hole layout could open in June if full Waterfront Commission is in support


The Design Review Committee sub-set of the Waterfront Commission unanimously recommended to the full body to approve the new nine-hole golf course at the former site of the Metacomet Country Club.

The DRC did so at a meeting held Thursday night, May 9, in the Council Chambers at East Providence City Hall.

The golf course, MetLinks, is now considered the first of three phases being proposed by Metacomet Property LLC, a subsidiary of the land owners Marshall Development.

The second phase to be completed over the next few years would include the area abutting the parkway extended east on Lyon Avenue. The third would include the remainder of the location, including the creation of a green space buffer on Lyon Avenue and Fort Street. That piece of the property was deeded to the City of East Providence. Both pieces to be developed would feature a mixture of commercial and residential structures.

Joshua Berlinsky, managing partner of the law firm DarrowEverett and the lead spokesperson for the developer, steered the DRC through a presentation on the golf course.

The proposed golf operations area would remain on the exact footprint as that of the former Metacomet Country Club.

"It will be done in the same way, the same manner as the old Metacomet Country Club operation was done for 100 years," Berlinsky said, referring to the beginnings of the original club most often dated as 1919.

The existing parking lot, likewise, will be reused. It will be resurfaced and restriped. It was also include the old round-about club/golfer drop-off area.

The putting green next to where the old clubhouse stood would be brought back for use. The grassy area near the old 10th tee and flag poles would also be used for recreational purposes.

New to the site would be a 20'x20' starter's shed to serve as a temporary hub to conduct course business.

In the same vicinity a tent will be set up for shade, shelter from any elements and as a place to consume refreshments.

A restroom trailer will be brought in temporarily. And a spot for golf cart storage, return and cleaning will be in the same general location.

There would be no permanent food preparation on site. Rather it would be catered at another location and brought to the course.

Berlinsky said Marshall has been coordinating with and seeking input from the various governmental entities, city and state, throughout the planning process.

The renovation of MetLinks was done over the last some 24 months by the local golf course architectural firm The Northeast Golf Company, owned and operated by Rhode Island native Robert McNeil.

McNeil led the DRC through a presentation specific to the course.

He called the restoration of the design by the famed architect Donald Ross "as exciting as any I've come across."

McNeil and his staff used Ross' original plans for Metacomet from the mid-1920s when the latter, himself, was hired to give the layout a refresh.

McNeil said the bunkering and elevations put back to exactly where they were set by Ross in 1925, though allowing for some "enhancements" for how the modern game is played.

Though carts will be available, the designer said the revised layout is "very walkable."

He was referring mostly to the close proximity of the greens to teeing areas, calling the design "ribbon of golf."

Obviously proud of his efforts, McNeil said the revised MetLinks is a "big time restoration" and will become a "national golf story."

"You will be very proud of what you have here once we get it off the ground," McNeil said, adding the
"golf course is ready" for play as is.

He continued, saying the new nine-holer is "as good as any private club in this market and there's some pretty darn good ones, including here in East Providence."

In a press release issued after the DRC's vote for recommendation, Lianne Marshall, co-owner of Marshall Properties, Inc., said, “We are thrilled to receive the overwhelming support of the Design Review Committee for Phase One of this project. MetLinks represents our commitment to revitalizing a beloved asset within our community and creating an exceptional golf experience for the public to enjoy this summer.”

If, as expected the full Waterfront Commission signs off on the phase 1 proposal at its May 16 meeting, Marshall plans to open the course sometime in June.

Members of the Keep Metacomet Green community group spoke during the public comment section of the meeting.

The main talking point of the group  last week was a desire for the golf course to include internal walking paths.

McNeil and Berlinsky both noted they were not feasible for reasons such as legal liability and the condensed nature of the layout, the limited space in between holes.

KMG was referring specifically to one of the conditions placed upon Marshall by the East Providence City Council when it transferred oversight of the project to the Waterfront Commission.

Berlinsky said the condition, the seventh set up by the Council, was being "taken out of context" by the members of KMG.

He read from the ordinance, "The Property owner will integrate paths throughout the development, constructed and maintained at their own expense, providing for connectivity between the Property and the abutting neighborhood. These paths include pedestrian paths to both the Parkway, for access to the Bike Path, as well as to Pierce Field. The paths will be shown on the plans as approved by the City."

In response to a charge by KMG that Marshall was reneging on aspects of the ordinance, Berlinsky said, "we're not looking to get around an obligation."

The DRC, in unison, eventually voted to send along its positive recommendation to the full Commission.

Also, a decision on what was called "phase 1A," for the construction of a permanent golf course maintenance building, was continued to the DRC's next meeting in June.

That proposal, for the building to be placed in the northeast corner of the property at Fort Street near Fisher Street, has previously been met with objections from neighborhood residents.

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