Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Brown, Green & Red (Ink That Is)

Town took course by eminent domain in 1987 for $2.2 million  (twice that in today's $)

The municipally owned Cherry Hill Golf Course continues to do what it does best:  squander taxpayer money.  In FY2016, which just ended on June 30, a hefty six digit number or $106,725 to be exact.

FY16 total intake was $210,199.72

Money that could be better spent hiring a few more pubic safety personnel, teachers, DPW workers or simply stashed in a capital savings account for the four major building projects coming up that will cost over $100 million in town money.

Two years ago Town Manager John Musante admitted to the Select Board in a memo,  "This ongoing evaluation will likely include revisiting the cost-benefits of privatizing operations of the Cherry Hill Golf Course."

Unfortunately Mr. Musante died before that could happen and the town's top executive position has been somewhat in flux ever since.

Two years ago (FY14) the beleaguered golf business lost $103,964 and last year (FY15) $86,543.

And based on that catastrophic consistency it was pretty easy for me to predict this year's loss of $100K.

Makes you wonder how closely the ailing operations are scrutinized in advance by the Town Manager, Finance Committee, or clueless Town Meeting.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Umass will be purchasing this property soon, no more worries for the townies.

Larry Kelley said...

But it would make such a great Solar Farm.

Anonymous said...

Or absolutely best spent if it is left in the hands of those who actually earned it. The liberal argyement to reallocate tax funds before returning them tonthe owner and demanding them anew is quite laim and always hurts both the community and the individuals.

Anonymous said...

Golf courses are tax write off's for the rich. The town should do the same.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you have been absolutely silent about the $135 million in proposed town spending, so it's ironic that the $100,000 in one of our recreation facilities is such a crisis.

Larry Kelley said...

You must be new around here. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

@11:35, this has been a crisis - for Larry - since forever. For most of us it's just part of the parks and recreation budget.

Larry Kelley said...

Except FAR more expensive.

And this coming April will mark the 30th anniversary.

Dr. Ed said...

WHY is UMass purchasing it????

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Maybe they should turn it into a free party space so the kids can stop by ruining every other public park in town

Anonymous said...

Larry-all this fandango-just when America is busy adopting Europes "Green belt" plan for enviro-friendly cities-leave some green space-think of the future !!!

Anonymous said...

UMass isn't purchasing it, Ed. Calm down.

Anonymous said...

This is probably one of the best investments the town has ever made. If you have never been to this property, you should go there. Climb the hill and view from the top. It is breathtaking. The views are incredible. For a town that wants to be "green", this is the ultimate in green!

Another fortunate thing is that when the property was taken from the owner,(who was a long time Amherst resident and taxpayer),the town paid him fairly for his land. He had been a hard-working farmer for many years and when small farming became unprofitable, he had to make a choice for his farm. Although he knew he could have made a lot of money selling it, he did not want it to become a subdivision.(At the time, much Amherst farmland was being turned into subdivisions....or apartment complexes.) His dream was to ensure the property remain "open space." So, he designed and built the golf course and he operated it, as a small family business, for many years.

As the owner's health began to fail, he began to look for ideas to improve the property and sell it, but to also continue his dreams of keeping it beautiful. He finally found a young land developer, from the Boston area, and their idea involved both the golf course property and the adjoining land that the co-housing now occupies. The proposal was to build "high-end," no cost to the town,(actually tax paying, self-supporting) condos, on the top portion of the property. In the design, the golf course would remain, with some alterations. In the transfer of the deed, the town would have acquired the golf course for $1 and it would have remained open space for perpetuity.

As usual, the NIMBY's had a fit and rejected the plan! I believe one "goofiest" objections was based on the idea that the condos would be too "high end!!" There were many other ridiculous objections, too many to remember.

Well, the co-housing was built on some of the property, a little while later, after the "taking."

The town could have "had it all!" But, as usual, STUPIDITY ruled.

Now, we can only go forward. Since grants were involved in the taking, it does have to remain "open space", by law. Luckily, the owner had a nice living until he died a few years later. At least his vision remains for the open space that he so loved. The "green" land, for which he cared so deeply, must be remain that way, due to the grants that were acquired by the town...and the law.

So, I do agree with Larry on many points, but I wish he would let this one go. Please, try to appreciate what a beautiful place this is and wish the town well in their maintenance of the place. Someday, future generations will be very happy this lovely, green place still remains.

Now, if someone would buy and revive the old home next to the course, and perhaps turn it into a bed and breakfast, then another business would add to the tax base of the town.....and to the revitalization of North Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Larry I'm looking for my ball but my caddy, Sicky in Pelham, is too busy writing tripe on your blog to pay attention to my play on this fine municipal golf course. If you see her, please tell her to get off the computer and get her lazy butt back to the golf course. And thanks for being such a great supporter of the course over the years by continuing to keep it in the public eye.

Playing through, thanks.

Larry Kelley said...

Considering the pathetic number of rounds of golf played, obviously my keeping it in the public eye has not done much good.

Anonymous said...

When is this town gonna invest in my hobbies?

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, come to think of it Cherry Hill would make a great drone playground.

Jill Maxson Hallock said...

Thank you Anonymous August 4 2016 12:29PM, you are very kind. My father loved his farm, moving there in 1939, then building the golf course 1964, all to preserve the green open space, he would also grow seed crops on the once open fields next to the golf course, (where town co-housing now is) just for the wild birds and animals that lived and visited the golf course each year.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

You can let your drone play there. You might even enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

It's definitely time to look for cheaper recreational uses for this land. Or to turn it over to a private company to run.

Anonymous said...

I have Followed Cherry Hill's fight from the beginning. When negotiations with D. Maxson and P. Rollins, through buying the course and the town running it. The Manager there for years D. Engstrom gave it his all and yet they lost money each year. I was a member there until his leaving(1/2 his fault and 1/2 the cowboy running the town. I have played a few rounds each year and noticed the play and membership is dwindling down. The course for some reason has receded, to back in the early years. I still am a member of another course in town and love the fact the town owns it, but enough has been done and its time to move on. LSSE has no idea how to run it and i blame them. It was close a few times to breaking even , but now it's losing over 100,000 year each year. For 20 years its average was i guess 50,000 or less with a few years of above ground revenues. Since Lsse took over it's gone down hill fast(winter games not included) both in revenue and playability. Time to privatize or let it turn into a nice conservation area for the town. #0 years is enough time to see if some thing works. As for you L. Kelley it's time to let it go for you also