Monday, February 2, 2009

Golf anyone?

I gotta start arriving early for the Select Board meetings! Last week, knowing the July 4’th Parade issue was a 7:40 PM timed item, I snuck in around 7:30 PM.

And I even had someone tape the entire meeting starting at 6:30 pm and put it on a DVD so I could create the clip I posted last week. But even that did not record the little joke of the town manager testing his microphone (must have picket it up from President Reagan) about Amherst “buying another golf course.”

Of course the not so funny thing is he managed to get ink in both the crusty Bulletin and today’s highly read ‘Cries and Whispers’ column in the Springfield Republican. And both of them fell for the argument (only made by Shaffer) that the golf course has become more successful.

Currently Cherry Hill year-to-date revenue stand at an anemic $110,000. Dan Engstrom, who ran the course for twenty years until mysteriously disappearing almost two years ago, told the Select Board the easy way to estimate an entire year’s revenues is simply double the amount at Fall closing, thus a total intake of $220,000.

This year (FY09) Cherry Hill has an operation budget of $208,000 a brand new capital item costing $22,000 (lawn mower) and employee benefits and insurance hidden in another budget of $25,000. So just to break even the golf business needs to intake $255,000.

And that of course does not include the $30,000 guaranteed opportunity income from Niblick Management’s privatization offer, hastily rejected by the Town Mangler.

I even question if they will hit $220,000 because Engstrom's formulae relied on the roughly 180 to 200 Season Pass holders renewing their memberships in April and May. Rather than shell out $500 for an annual membership many of these folks may cut back and just pay the $15 day rate here and there.

So a loss of $25,000 (assuming they do hit $220,000 this year ) when you could have had a guaranteed $30,000 is...well, nothing to joke about.


Neil said...


I think you may be using he term "privatize" in a misleading way. If Niblick Management is a golf course management enterprise then aren't they just selling management services as opposed to privatization? My understanding is that privatizing would be to sell the assets in return for perpetual access for a fee by residents for golfing.

LarryK4 said...

Yes, you're correct. Thanks.

They offered us $30,000 per year to take over operation of the business (no assets would have changed hands) but wanted a three year contract.

And I think the year we're in now would have been the last of the three.

Anonymous said...

Well, how about next year?

LarryK4 said...

He claims in FY2010 Cherry Hill will show a whopping profit of $12,000.

But then, at the end of Fiscal Year 2007 Leisure Services issued a press release claiming Cherry Hill was $7,000 "in the black"
and the Town Manager repeated the lie.

They of course were ignoring the almost $30,000 in hidden costs paid for out of other budgets that even the Finance Committee clearly illuminated in their analysis of the golf course for town meeting that year.

An excel spreadsheet issued by the comptroller in 2008 clearly shows, rather than a $7,000 profit in FY07, there was in fact a deficit of $19,875.

If he's so sure that Cherry Hill will show $12,000 profit next year, would he be willing to make up any difference if he's wrong again from his $125-K salary?

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry,

Was reading a short story collection, came across Heinlein's "Our Fair City" from 1948. It's about a corrupt mayor and a crusading reporter, as in:

"An ill wind -- symbolic of the spiritual filth lurking in the dark corners of city hall -- will grow to cyclonic proportions...."

Immediately thought of you. Sent you a copy for your birthday.

Especially liked the line: "The tyrant fears the laugh more than the assassin's bullet."

Speaking of which, is our Ill Wind still working on his "ice follies?"
I mean, there's a state of the art ice rink a mile down the road at UMass, where everyone skates. Setting up an ice patch in the center of town, where I've never yet seen a single skater -- it's not like the government is tilting at the private sector in this case -- UMass is government too.

Terry Franklin

LarryK4 said...

Hey Terry,
Thanks I've read a lot of his Science Fiction but not that work (and hey, I can always use the motivation)

Yeah outdoor skating rinks are kind of like golf courses--subject to the vagaries of weather. And nowhere are there more vagaries than in New England.

Anonymous said...

"Speaking of which, is our Ill Wind still working on his "ice follies?"

I think the Kendrick Park rink is a very nice thing. They used to do the same thing for years near Memorial Pool. For people obsessed with hot water you like to throw cold water on anything the town manager does. That's the problem with idealogues, your opinions are shaped by your partisan positions. If the Fire Department had proposed this and made it happen you would be cheering.

LarryK4 said...

Key words there Anon: "made it happen". Nixon also declared victory and withdrew, and the rest as they say is history.

I just happened to bike by there 45 minutes ago and I will upload the photo in a bit.

Yeah, I remember the rink by War Memorial Pool. First time I ever made the news was a photo in the Amherst Record of me trying to strap on skates (that was about 45 years ago).

ex-Townie said...

There actually used to be FIVE outdoor skating rinks in Amherst while I was growing up - one @ Community Field (as you mentioned), one on the South Amherst Common, one on the East Amherst Common (by Fort River School, which was just swamp land back then), one on Pine Street, and one at the Junior High (complete with side boards, so we could play hockey). All were maintained (quite well) by DPW - must be a lost art, eh?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, back then, the DPW did not construct sidewalks and "comfort stations".

ex-Townie said...

By the way...I didn't know you were a St. Mike's grad - what year did you graduate form there? I have many, many memories of playing basketball against you guys in that small "gym" of yours, back when ARHS used to play against teams from Mohawk, Mt. Greylock, Smith Academy, Turners Falls, Hopkins, etc. We HATED playing at your place, esp. because your teams were always so tenacious and unrelenting. When did St. Mike's finally shut its doors?