Cherry Hill Clubhouse cost $4,365 liability insurance, not part of "operation budget"
Okay, I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong. Eight months ago I predicted Cherry Hill Golf Course, the town's most insatiable White Elephant, would squander $60,000 in FY14 (just ended June 30).
Instead the beleaguered beast lost $87,739 -- or well over the cost of a firefighter, police officer or teacher. Also well over the $47,141 in tax monies it lost last year or $40,132 the year before that.
As usual the business overran their operation budget by $6,696 and missed their target revenue goal by $12,495, a 9.4% reduction from last year's total revenues.
But when you add in those other significant hidden costs -- employee benefits, capital/equipment, insurance -- that do not show up as part of the "operation budget" -- the red ink flows like the River Jordan.
And of course it was inspired by North Amherst NIMBYs who wished to stop a modest 134 unit housing development in their backyard. In fact the developer offered to deed the entire golf course to the town for $1 as all he wanted was the land overlooking it for housing.
In a July 7 memo to the illustrious Select Board, Cherry Hill cheerleader John Musante (who also happens to be the Town Manager) stated: "This ongoing evaluation will likely include revisiting the cost-benefit of privatizing operations of the Cherry Hill Golf Course."
Even if we lease it out for $1 the town still greatly benefits because taxpayers would avoid subsidizing hefty annual losses, and the commercial business would go back on the tax rolls. Last year Amherst College, our largest landowner, paid the town just over $15,000 in property taxes for their nine hole golf club.
And if we can't find anyone to take it off our hands to continue providing the luxurious game of golf, then other uses should be found. Like solar for instance.
Former cornfield, East Hadley Road, Hadley