Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cherry Hill Golf Course shanks again

So before the Town Manager or LSSE, our expensive recreation empire, spews a disingenuous positive spin on the numbers, here’s what the illustrious business of golf really cost taxpayers this past year (FY-09, ended June 30, 2009):

“Operation Budget: $211,000
Hidden costs: (employee benefits, insurance): $31,000
“Capital costs” Commercial lawnmower $22,000
Total taxpayer funded budget: $264,000

Total Revenues (with about half the patrons from outside Amherst): $254,000

Or a loss of $10,000.

Not bad...compared to the six consecutive years of $100,000 losses between 1999 and 2005, or South Hadley’s usual annual losses of $500,000 on their B-I-G-G-E-R white elephant, the Ledges.

But this loss does not reflect the $30,000 “opportunity cost” of privatizing the operation. The Town Mangler rejected Niblick Management because they wanted a 3-year-deal.

But Shaffer wants Town Meeting next week to approve a 5-year lease/buy on experimental photovoltaic, solar panels for two in-town locations. Hmmm…

And even if you ignore the $30,000 privatization opportunity had Amherst never absorbed Cherry Hill for $2.2 million over 20 years ago (still the most expensive land purchase/taking in town history) the former owner would be paying property taxes of almost $10,000 per year.

As former Czar Anne Awad told Town Meeting in June 2006 (back when she still lived in Amherst): “Numbers can be used in many ways, statistics in many ways” Yeah, for sure. It would help if town officials told the truth.

Hey, at least he was accurate (gotta love the facial twitch) when admitting the golf business would not cover capital.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to see the words, "Left wing conspiracy" at the top of the video because, in fact, Larry is himself a wanna-be leftist.

Only in the republic of look-at-me ville...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I'm only Conservative with money (and as a Town Meeting member I try to spend tax money as though it were my own--because of course, IT IS)

Ed said...

Larry is a Massachusetts Republican, which means that he is to the left of most Democrats in this state. I say this without malice, only that labels don't always mean what you think they do.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I"m "unenrolled."

Being born and raise Irish Catholic my mother would roll over in her grave if I became an R

Anonymous said...

Only minus $10K? I'd call that about even. Lots of people I know love the place. Quit your griping.

LarryK4 said...

A $10,000 LOSS when it could have been a guaranteed $30,000 GAIN: A $40,000 difference (actually more like $50,000 because if we left that $264,000 in an interest bearing account it would have generated another $8,000 to $10,000 for the General Fund)

So I call $48,000 to $50,000 a cop, firefighter, or teacher (or within the realm of recreation a War Memorial Pool open for the summer.)

And under the private management that guaranteed us $30,000 your buddies who "love the place" could still play there.

Anonymous said...

Sell the frontage land. Along Montague Road 3 housing lots can be subdivided from the golf course. Each lot would be assessed at about $139000.


Ryan Willey said...

Publicly subsidized golf, what a country. Only with tax dollars can you keep a failing business afloat.

Numbers can be presented in a lot of different ways and I wonder what the true cost of Cherry Hill is?

Honestly politics and name calling aside was it a good investment. I say no.

LarryK4 said...

Yes Chris, but immediate neighbors the Greenbaum's would have hissy fits about that; and they are of course both Town Meeting members and she's a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (no Conflict of Interest there of course.)

And truth to be said the main reason we took the golf course by eminent domain (an "emergency taking" that made it Referendum proof) was because of them.

Yes Ryan, there are a lot of additional "hidden costs" up there that even I can't ferret out.

But maybe, just maybe the town has learned from this monstrous mistake.

Can you imagine if Hickory Ridge Golf Course went on the market (and I think it now is) and a land developer made an offer because of housing potential and the neighbors wanted Town Meeting to pay $2.2 million for it (to stop that development)?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the town would want to buy my 37 year old music store business. They could get stimulus money or grants to do free lessons or repair work. But they would have to compete with someone not paying taxes and running a business out of the Amherst Housing Authority buildings. Or maybe the town could buy your fitness club and get government money for free martial arts instuction. But they would have to compete against the new gym being built on campus.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, unfortunately it's all about BIG government incentives (at taxpayer expense.)

For instance the solar panels that will (we hope) generate $1 for our 50 cent investment over the next five years are priced that way because of state and federal tax credits/rebates the company selling them gets.

But in the long run we ALL pay for those tax credits and rebates. (and let's not even talk about railroads)

Anonymous said...

Yes maybe the town should have saved it's cruisers from the 70's, they could have gotten clunker money for the new ones. Or maybe a new why did the chicken cross the road joke, to get stimulus money.

LarryK4 said...

Or to get a degree from Hampshire College.

I believe there's a ton of stimulus money going into higher education as well (gotta pay for that $50 million Umass 'Death Star' recreation center)

Anonymous said...

Obama plans on putting a ton of money at the community college level. I'm sure our flagship university will not be happy with that. Just need to raise student fees a few grand to attract attention. Not much different than other countries doing nuclear research. That's good for a billion in US aid.

Anonymous said...

"Actually I"m "unenrolled."

Being born and raise Irish Catholic my mother would roll over in her grave if I became an R"

Then why did you put "Left wing conspiracy" at the top of the vid Larry?

Because you're a fraud. You just proved it. Again, you don't give a fuck about Amherst. It's just a mind fuck and you know it...

Grow up, tool.

Anonymous said...

I am also a registered Democrat however I'm not happy with what I've seen the last 20 years. I watched Dukakis call Massachusetts the miracle state then watch the state almost go into bankruptcy months later. I watched Clinton lead the country into a false economy with smoke and mirrors. I've watched Barney Franks and Chris Dodd let the banks lead the country into ruin. I watched mayor Albano lead Springfield into receivership. I havn't seen any fiscal responsibily since Governer Bill Weld, a Republican. If the Republican party gets back to fiscal responsibilty and off it's holier
agenda it will get my vote.

Anonymous said...

What kind of Irish Catholic this guy is I don't know...

LarryK4 said...

Anon: 4:33 PM
I can tell you politically came of age yesterday.

"Left Wing Conspiracy" is a take off on Hillary Clinton's excuse for her husband having oral sex with an intern: you know the old "vast right wing conspiracy" routine.

It was a joke. You're a Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

"It was a joke. You're a Nitwit."

It was a jab. You're a meat-head.

Anonymous said...

The American political countryside is riddled with revenue-squandering government projects and programs that the electorate refuses to reexamine to see if they're worth it.

Like the War on Drugs.

Like Cherry Hill.

But we can obsess on the cost of police cruisers.

Anonymous said...

It's important to remember that in Amherst, change is for everybody else in America.

But here we love the status quo in all of its particulars.

There is no political will in Amherst to change anything. The "silent majority" in town is silent for a reason: they're fundamentally content with the way things are.

And so we have a system of government that operates to facilitate obstruction (which sounds like an oxymoron, except it's not in Amherst) and obscure the lines of responsibility. The buck stops nowhere: an entire town of officials who can credibly say "Don't look at me."

Don't let all the singing-in-a-circle, badly matched clothing, and earthy-crunchy living fool ya: it's one of the most (small "c") conservative places on the planet. We're committed to radical social and political change, for everybody except us. Because we're perfect the way we are.

LarryK4 said...

Hey, at least the Men's Resource Center went belly up.

Anonymous said...

"And so we have a system of government that operates to facilitate obstruction (which sounds like an oxymoron, except it's not in Amherst) and obscure the lines of responsibility. The buck stops nowhere: an entire town of officials who can credibly say "Don't look at me."

God, what a dump.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of malarky. Cherry Hill would be slightly ahead if it hadn't been for the rainiest June in history. The town finally has the right balance between in-flow and out-flow of revenues and expenses and you're still complaining.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and three years ago when John Musante was "acting Town Manager" they complained about a very rainy October.

Sounds like typical New England weather to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they would show a profit if there were no winters. Let's wait for global warming.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had $10 for every time over the years a town official claimed that Cherry Hill "would have come out ahead" if only the weather had been better.

It's not Palm Springs, people.

The weather excuse has alternated with the bad economy excuse for the entire history of the Town's ownership of the course.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, it's pretty funny. The old "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" routine.

Today's Hampshire Life has an article about rainy weather and it turns out this past June was not the worst on record with 6.3 inches compared to the worst at 10.4 inches.

And interestingly enough, LAST June we had six inches of rain (only one-third of an inch less than this year.)

Rob Spence said...


I'm curious, if you include the hidden costs, if you know how much profit/loss the following town-owned facilities made in the past year:

1) Groff Park
2) The Town Common
3) Kiwanis Park
4) Puffers Pond
5) Mill River (pool, playground, and ball fields)?

If these public recreation facilities didn't turn a profit last year, or previous years, do you think that we should sell or lease them?

LarryK4 said...

No, but we should have at least put out to bid the War Memorial Pool before closing it for the first time in over 50 years.

New England Golf has the about the most expensive overhead in recreation.

You can service multiple times over more folks--especially low income kids--with the pools or basketball, softball, Frisbee, etc.

The Police and Fire department did not turn a profit last year either you Nitwit, and I'm not asking to privatize them.

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