It was late Saturday afternoon and a seemingly endless caravan of six-person golf carts kept pulling up to the clubhouse at Harbor Lights Country Club. But the passengers weren’t going to test their mettle on the public and picturesque nine-hole course.
Inside of three hours, more than 1,400 guests participated in the grand opening gala that many people called “The party of the year in Warwick.”
Sampling fine foods at nearly a half dozen stations, people marveled at the architecture and design of the new clubhouse and toured such sun-splashed spots as the Seaside Terrace and Infinity Pool Club and Bar.
And perhaps what amazed guests is the fact that Harbor Lights isn’t a stuffy, private country club. It is open to the public, for golf, dinner and just about any event imaginable.
“This is a great day!” exclaimed General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. “What a top notch facility. We need more of this in Rhode Island, and congratulations to Gov. [Philip] Noel for making this investment. This is magnificent and exciting to see development like this in our state.”
Raimondo, who added, “We all wish the Noels the very best success in this great example of economic development,” wasn’t alone in toasting a project that was more than two years in the making.
Warwick City Councilman Ed Ladouceur, who represents Ward 5, said, “I’m very excited that Gov. Noel and Joe [Noel] completed their re-do of this country club. It’s great for the city and great for the state. I won’t be surprised if Harbor Lights becomes a tourist destination. I, too, congratulate the Noels for their willingness to make the investment here in Warwick. I’m especially proud to say that is in my ward.”
Ladouceur, who lives in Warwick Neck with his wife Deb, continued, “This is exactly what this city needs. Think about it; it’s accessible by land and sea. Their willingness to invest in a project of this magnitude is absolutely incredible!”
Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President Lauren Slocum, who with her husband Phil also live in the Neck, said, “It’s nice to see the neighborhood come together like this. This [Harbor Lights] is all sorts of things. The renovations they’ve done are extensive ... magnificent. What a great asset to Warwick, Rhode Island and New England.”
Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon said, “This could very well become a tourist attraction ... a tourist destination. What a huge asset to the city of Warwick. It’s welcome economic development at its best. What I really like is that it’s not a private [golf] course. In a word, this facility is fantastic!”
K. Joseph Shekarchi, a first-year state representative in Warwick, said, like most people, he was “overwhelmed.”
“This is absolutely spectacular,” he said during the three-hour event that people also called “a who’s who party of RI.” He added, “What a first class facility in Warwick. What a tremendous amount of private investment ... great synergy marina ... we’re very lucky to have this kind of private capital spent in Warwick.”
Shekarchi, who has a law practice in Warwick, continued, “This event is just like Harbor Lights – special in every way. The city of Warwick is well-presented and I’m glad to be part of such a historic day.”
Robert Flaherty, another Warwick resident and former state representative, said, “This is a big investment. And not just in capital, but human effort. I’m very, very impressed. The Noels really worked this project. They took a neighborhood golf course and turned it into a seaside resort. It also raises the property value of all surrounding properties. Who wouldn’t want to live near this place?”