Cherry Hill Golf Course behind the curtainWith no discussion except my own and not a single "no" vote other than mine, a noticeably smaller (from Monday nights grand start) Amherst Town Meeting approved the Cherry Hill Golf Course operation budget for its 27th year of municipal operation as a "business."
And I even wore a new shirt
159 North Amherst NIMBYs signed a petition to get it on the Town Meeting warrant to stop a 134 unit Planned Unit Residential Development proposed by Cambridge architect Robert Kreger.
But then after an appraisal became public, Town Meeting had to reconvene and add another $600,000 to the original appropriation bringing the total cost of acquisition to $2.2 million ($4.4 million in today's dollars), to date the most costly land purchase in town history.
Not to mention the $1 million the golf course lost in operations as an Enterprise Fund, which are supposed to be self supporting like a private sector business. Town Meeting gave up on that idea and dissolved the enterprise fund status in November of 2006, rolling the course back into the General Fund where it's far easier to hide overhead costs like employee benefits, insurance, capital heavy equipment purchases.
And golf is a heavy equipment Godzilla. Next year for instance they will request $97,500 in capital, none of which will be considered part of their "operation budget".
But year after year Town Meeting bestows their undying support using taxpayer money. Even Sensible Center types sometimes wonder ...
Article #43 calls for the town to "Purchase a Conservation Restriction" on 154 acres of woodland for $1.2 million in northeast Amherst that is already under a purchase-and-sale agreement for $6.5 million. Once again to stop a large development of badly needed housing.
Stop The Retreat sign (cheaper by the dozen)
But the courts have long ago ruled that a municipality using the Godlike power of eminent domain must pay "highest and best use" price for the property. Or in this case, $6.5 million!!!
More than the town has in combined total reserves between Free Cash ($4,326,501) and Stabilization ($1,821,401).
Since the town has "right of first refusal" on the property, North Amherst NIMBYs should simply put up or shut up:
Raise the $6.5 million required to match Landmark Properties' offer to W.D. Cowls, Inc ... and then, even I will support this Children's Crusade cause.
From their Facebook page
"Must be halted immediately." Getting a tad aggressive are we not?