Showing posts with label Cherry Hill Golf Course. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cherry Hill Golf Course. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Question Of Priorities

 Town Manager submits dog bites man budget

All you need to know about rookie Town Manager Paul Bockelman's FY18 budget is the underlined statement in his letter of transmittal:  No additional staff positions are proposed.

In other words AFD will continue to run pretty much full time on "brown out" relying on surrounding full time professional departments to assist with their routine life and death duties.

Of course Mr. Bockelman does state, "Any decisions regarding staffing changes in Fire and EMS await results of an independent analysis, due in February."

But if/when that study reveals the need for more staffing we have to wait until next year to make it happn. Thus leaving the town open to a negligence lawsuit if a tragic incident like what happened recently in Holyoke should occur.

 Employee Benefits and Capital are hidden costs of the White Elephant golf course

Yet his budget does show continued tax support for the Cherry Hill Golf Course of $68,749 and $392,143 for Leisure Services and Supplemental Education or a total tax expenditure of $460,892 on recreation.

 LSSE budget.  Click to enlarge/read

Maybe at the next major structure fire, when Engine 1 arrives with only one firefighter aboard as happened on June 4th, we can call in a caddie or yoga instructor to assist.

UPDATE 10:00 AM 

Coincidentally enough the town announced the retirement this morning of long time LSSE Director Linda Chalfant.  Rather than replacing her they should simple nix the entire department and use about half of the $400K projected in tax support next year to supply vouchers to town residents good at area private recreation/sports operations. 

Engine 1 (top left) was first on scene but with only the driver
Northampton FD ambulance on scene The Arbors yesterday to assist AFD

Friday, July 1, 2016

The American Way

Land off Moody Bridge Road/South Maple Street, Hadley

The guaranteed way to preserve a scenic view is to buy it. And as long as you don't use tax dollars that come out of everybody -- even those who don't like scenic views -- conservatives have no problem with it.

For instance, over a 100 neighbors in North Amherst signed a petition article for the town to take the Cherry Hill Golf Course by eminent domain thirty years ago and we ended up paying $2.2 million ($4.4 million in today's dollars) simply to avoid a 134 unit high end housing development around the golf course.
Cherry Hill absorbs a lot of sun, and tax dollars

Since then the municipally operated white elephant golf business has gone on to squander over $1 million in operations.

But the plea to save the beautiful open space in our neighboring farm town will use privately donated money, and the land has nothing to do with the luxurious game of golf.

So I wish them well.

 Click to enlarge/read

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cherry Hill: 1/2 Way To Hell (- handbasket)

In spite of being dead wrong about predicted golf revenues for his entire tenure as Town Manager, John Musante optimistically insists on predicting a higher number ($268,000), that's always presented to Town Meeting in the spring and is always proved wrong come the following July 1st end of the Fiscal Year.

 Town Manager's 2015 budget report "letter of transmittal"

 All you need is a calculator to see it did NOT cover all its costs from user fees

The beastly White Elephant of a municipal "business" continues on its losing ways with end of season revenues being well below break even levels.

And -- even worse -- expenditures at disproportionately higher than average levels as well.

Current revenues stand at $102,347 vs expenditures of $143,684.  Former long time manager of the course Dan Engstrom (who mysteriously disappeared on St Patrick's Day 2007) always used to tell town officials you could simply double revenues at season close in order to project full fiscal year (which ends June 30th) totals.

Town Manager's 2014 Budget report "letter of transmittal"

Although the real formula is closer to doubling the numbers and then increase that total by another 20%.

Either way, the ailing business will not intake $268,000 by July 1st.  This, on top of "actual" losses exceeding $100,000 last year (although, as usual, predicted to "cover its operating and employee benefits entirely from user fees").

 Town Manager's 2013 Budget report "letter of transmittal"

 Cherry Hill itsy bitsy clubhouse (note lack of solar panels)

In a July 7th memo to his bosses the venerable 5-member Amherst Select Board, Town Manager Musante did, finally, admit "This ongoing evaluation will likely include revisiting the cost-benefit of privatizing operations of the Cherry Hill Golf Course."

 Town Managers 2012 Budget report "letter of transmittal"

Let's hope that commons sense proposal is included in his FY2016 budget rather than the standard wrong headed projection about the beleaguered business covering its costs "entirely from user fees."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Red Is The New Black

Cherry Hill Golf Course: always stormy  

Red ink continues to outline Amherst's municipal white elephant -- the appropriately titled Cherry Hill Golf Course.  Set against a bright blue sky background it might make an all-American logo for government waste and mismanagement.

Last year the beleaguered business lost $47,000 and this year -- at the half way point -- they are again on target to lose well over that amount.

Of course town officials will write it off as almost a wash or talk about "net operating profits" conveniently ignoring the hidden costs -- employee benefits, ($37,529) and capital improvements ($26,654).

Yes, the FY14 "operation budget" is $240,100 but the real cost of running the golf business this year is $304,283.  And with total revenues now at season closure standing at only $90,701 (below last year's $96,537) safe bet the course will not even generate the $242,569 total it did in FY13.

So my conservative projection for total losses in the this fiscal year finishing June 30 is $60,000 -- or a little over the cost of one full time firefighter, police officer or yes, even a teacher (well, almost). 

Next year (FY15) will be exponentially worse since the (hidden) capital improvements cost will be in the $100,000 range.

Time to board up the sinking sand trap.

Five year plan for capital improvements (not part of "operation budget")

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gluttonou$ Game of Golf


Despite a bold, suck up assurance to the Select Board from Town Manager John Musante -- "The golf course will cover its operating and employee benefits costs entirely from user fees" -- the White Elephant continues to lumber along in the red as Cherry Hill Golf Course closed the fiscal year requiring $47,141 in tax support, a little more than it did the previous year.

Now $47,000 may not sound like much, but it seems to be the best case scenario with the ailing recreation business.  And worse case scenario is a repeat of the seven straight years (2001-2007) the course required $100,000 in annual tax support.

The course always comes close to covering "operation costs" but those costs do not include employee benefits, capital items (heavy equipment), and insurance.  Cherry Hill never covers those. 

So the year that just started July 1st (FY14) the course has an extra $12,000 in capital over and above the year just completed.  Thus they will easily lose $60,000.  Still, not such a big deal.  However the following year (FY15) they have $97,500 in capital improvements on tap, so that year they will lose between $130,000 and $140,000.

Having such a large piece of property tied up in the golf business rather than, say, student housing, a solar farm, or private landfill -- all of which would pay significant annual property taxes -- underscores the hidden value of opportunity costs. In this case, opportunity lost.

Even Amherst Golf Course, owned by tax-exempt Amherst College, pays over $7,000 per year in property taxes to the town yet still  manages to make money for the College.  Maybe we should let them run Cherry Hill?

Oh yes, that's right, the town already turned down a private management company that offered to pay $30,000 guaranteed annually to run Cherry Hill. 

Cherry Hill, at $2.2 million dollars ($4.4 million in today's dollars), was the most expensive land taking in town history.   All to satisfy North Amherst  NIMBYs, who railroaded Town Meeting into the nefarious use of eminent domain to stop a 134-unit housing development.

Today we have some of those same NIMBYs (Vince O'Connor for one)  trying to fast track the town into taking 154 acres of property in northeast Amherst to stop a desperately needed 170 unit student housing development.  For an astounding $6.5 million dollars, a new record.

Those who fail to learn from history ...

Notice how nervous Cherry Hill makes public officials

Thursday, May 9, 2013


 Cherry Hill Golf Course behind the curtain

With 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

The 66 acre 9 hole golf course was taken by eminent domain under an "emergency measure" making the drastic action referendum proof in the spring of 1987, with an original cost of $1.6 million.

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 ...


Winston Churchill once famously said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." In Amherst it could become, "When Town Meeting does not learn from history, taxpayers are doomed to regret it."

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?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recreation Train Wreck

Leisure Services & Supplemental Education website (note outdated pool event) 

If Amherst Police, Fire and DPW departments suddenly vanished, chaos would soon ensue. But should our recreation department disappear, most people would not even notice...and the private sector would quickly and easily fill the void.

In addition to the $43,000 lost last fiscal year on the luxurious game of golf, the recreation department--also known as Leisure Services and Supplemental Education--lost an additional $92,792 on other sport/fitness programming.

Overall LSSE expenses topped $1.1 million with revenues at $977,514...far short of break even .  This $122, 486 in red ink combined with the $197,000 hidden cost of employee benefits, paid from a separate part of the town operating budget, brings losses last year to a whopping $319,486.  For RECREATION.

And this is far from an anomaly as LSSE budget deficits demonstrate a downward trend over the past few years.  Unlike the decline of the Roman Empire, the excuse will be weather and the economy. 

Last spring Town Meeting approved a new $400,000 revolving fund for LSSE "after school programs". The schools kicked out private programs that had been in place for a generation and cost the taxpayers nothing, to be replaced by this same failing business model. 

Interestingly the government sponsored program at Crocker Farm--"Prime Time"-- that had been competing head-to-head with the private "Crocker Care", missed budget projections by a significant amount (budgeted at $27,000 but only generating $15,000).

If LSSE can't handle recreation--its core business for 30 years now--how well is this expensive new after school business going to fare?

Another hidden cost of government sponsored programs is that they are tax exempt.  Simply put, private business generates tax income while government programs consume them.

For instance, Hampshire Athletic Club, which has to unfairly compete with LSSE rec programs, paid the town $36,000 last year in property taxes.  And their employees are for the most part full-time professionals trying to make a living at sports/recreation rather than the part-time, independent contractors LSSE relies on.

Even tax exempt Amherst College paid the town $8,000 in property taxes for their Amherst Golf Course which competes with the Cherry Hill Golf Course, a ravenous White Elephant that required taxpayer bail outs of over $1 million to cover operational losses over the past ten years.

Government is vital for providing essential services--especially relating to public safety.  Recreation is a different matter altogether.

Why should hard pressed senior citizens living on a fixed income subsidize the recreational activities of the few who can--for the most part--afford to pay the actual cost of their "leisure services"?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cherry Hill Continues to Gush Red Ink

Cherry Hill should be closed because "it's the economy stupid."

A coin toss can decide the convenient excuse town officials will trot out for our municipal golf course continuing to squander taxpayer monies: The reliable standby going on 25 years now--inclement weather, or the more recent favorite--tough economy.  Actually of late they have been using them both in combination.

FY12 ended June 30 with total revenues standing at around $239,000 well under the projected budgeted amount town meeting was told they would intake, $268,000.  And those offsetting expenditures at $232,815 or a "net profit" of $6,185.  And that is the only math town officials ever wish to present.

But those expenditures do not include an additional $49,000 in hidden costs: $31,497 for employee benefits, $14,000 in capital improvements (a lawnmower) plus $3,300 in liability/clubhouse insurance.

Now do the math that small business owners (and homeowners) have to live by:  total expenditures $281,815 against total revenues of $239,000 or an actual loss of $42,815.  Yet our senile,arthritic, toothless, "watchdog" Finance Committee promised Amherst Town Meeting the business  "would show a small profit."

Even worse they dared to say "continue" to show a small profit.  In FY11, the previous year, accounting for the hidden costs Cherry Hill lost $40,000.  What the Finance Committee should have said is the course will continue to generate the same amount of red ink, or more.

The Fiscal year that just started has an extra $12,500 in capital expenditures (turf mower) over last year and next year the ailing operation requires $135,000 in hidden capital costs!

The Solid Waste Fund took a multi million dollar hit when the landfill closed as commercial haulers took their business elsewhere.  The transfer station was created to allow folks who do not have a private hauler to still manage their trash and recycling as well as for the town to dispose of its waste.

But rising fuel prices and the bottoming out of recycling reimbursements have squeezed the operation budget of the transfer station and for the first time in history town officials are actually considering closing it down to the general public, impacting 2,000 current customers--more than ten times the number of season pass holders at the Cherry Hill Golf Course.

The transfer station, however, finished the fiscal year in the black, unlike Cherry Hill.

Trash and recycling services are a necessity, golf is not!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Town Meeting "Shame"

Cherry Hill Golf Course:  Whistling in the rain

Last night after more than an hour of discussion Amherst Town Meeting turned down an amendment to add $67,000 to the "Human Services Budget" for non profit agencies performing vital safety net functions for those most in need.  As the 111-67 tally vote was announced, a disgruntled supporter said--loud enough for the Moderator to hear--"Shame!"

Within minutes Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly to approve the municipal Cherry Hill Golf Course budget with almost no discussion.  Last year Cherry Hill lost $40,000 and this year (which ends June 30) revenues thus far are down 17% so safe bet they will lose at least that much once again.

And in 2014 they have $135,000 in equipment replacement scheduled, meaning they go back to the good ol' days of annual six-digit losses.  Meanwhile the hungry in Amherst, stay hungry.  "Shame" indeed.

Posted to the privately owned Town Meeting Listserve:

I feel I have to write this to my fellow Town Meeting Members. I was ashamed by
the way some of my fellow members acted the other night upon the defeat of
adding $66,000 to the budget. The boos and yells of shame is not why I joined
Town Meeting. I believe we need to respect one another opinions and respect
each others as adults. I felt those people yelling what they did was immature
and child-like because they did not get their way. (that is my interpretation) .
Respecting others views is what a democracy is about, by doing what you did is a
way of intimidation. I hope this does not ever happen again.
Thank you for reading and I hope respecting what I wrote
Barry Federman
Precinct 5

Friday, March 16, 2012


Free ad on the town website

Let the record show that our money pit municipal golf course opened for business yesterday, so naturally today it rained.  This pre St Patrick's Day opening is the earliest in a decade but that will not stop town officials from using the weather excuse this coming July at fiscal year finish when the course ends up in the (cherry) red once again.

Hickory Ridge, a 18 hole public/private course in South Amherst sold at auction yesterday to Appliedgolf, a major player who owns 13 other courses.  Cherry Hill would have benefited somewhat by Hickory Ridge staying closed but now it may be quite the opposite as the new owners may invest more money into renovations, making it an even better course.

On average Cherry Hill only covers about 70% of its total overhead with the other 30% covered by taxpayers--the vast majority of whom do not play golf.  Hickory Ridge needs to cover all its costs (including property taxes to the town) via membership fees, or the auctioneers gavel will fall again.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow...

At least they used red ink for Fy14's $135,654

Amherst Finance Director Sandy Pooler exhibited the same curious protect-at-all-costs-the-expensive-game-of-golf attitude oozed by his predecessors John Musante (now Town Manager) and Nancy Maglione, relying on the tried and true bad weather cliche for yet another abysmal performance at the Cherry Hill Golf Course budget half-way mark.

Curiously he declared revenues only "slightly down". Hmm...17% is "slightly down"!? Are these not the same town officials who screech louder than an Irish banshee if state aid to the town is reduced by 1 or 2%?

And Mr. Pooler fails to mention the $226,308 in capital improvements slated over the next five years for the ailing enterprise. But since expensive capital items (as with insurance and employee benefits) come out of a budget separate from golf course operations, town officials hope nobody will notice.

Makes you wonder what else they're hiding.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

More $ down the drain

Amherst Cherry Hill Golf Course (metaphorically speaking)

Just so all of us "customers" have time to adapt, Amherst announced six months in advance a 3% price hike in water and sewer rates. Yeah, that $24 annual increase takes a long time to soften the shock. Thanks.

Or I suppose households could cut back--a bath here and a toilet flush there. But try telling that to my two kids.

Now too bad the town could not correspondingly swing a magic golf club and guarantee an increase in the bottom line at our floundering golf business. Interestingly, the town has incrementally increased rates almost every year for the past decade or so but it still loses money hand over fist because of sinking interest in the expensive game of golf.

And with H-U-G-E capital infrastructure expenditures coming up soon, those already too large losses will only grow exponentially.

Government seems to do just fine in the marketplace when it has a monopoly on a vital service like running water or education, but tanks in a competitive arena where good quality at a fair price matters.

Unfortunately the taxpayers are all too easily tapped to cover the difference.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Some things never change

UMass McGuirk Stadium (pre-expansion)

God how I wish Amherst Town Meeting had been half as smart as the UMass faculty union back in 1987 when we spent a whopping $2.2 million--an astounding $4.4 million in today's dollars--to buy a golf course we could have had for free. Although interestingly enough, it was a UMass professor, Richard Minear (then Chair of the Amherst Select Board) and fellow history professor Ron Story (a few years prior to Ellen Story becoming State Representative) who led the ill fated charge.

As usual, a 159 neighbors had signed a petition supporting the purchase to, as usual, stop development; and town meeting used the sacred power of eminent domain--the political equivalent of detonating a nuclear weapon--to steal the property away from a developer who had a legal agreement signed--at far less than $2.2 million--with owner Dave Maxon.

If only Town Meeting said to the selfish neighbors: "Sure we will take the property, as long as you come up with 80% of the funding," what a different history I would now write. And the town treasury would be so better off because of it.

Of course UMass football making the big jump to FBS will make Cherry Hill look like a Powerball lottery win by comparison. The jump (the shark) has already cost $1 million with the buyout for coach Kevin Morris and staff and next year scholarships alone will cost an addition $2 million. And of course there is that $30 million to expand McGuirk Stadium that the faculty union is now wisely trying to sack.

All this for a football program that lost millions last year. Yikes!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden, catastrophic cost of golf

Cherry Hill's K-Mart quality golf clubhouse

Last night Leisure Services director Linda Chalfant presented the FY13 upcoming budget to the four-out-of-seven members of the recreation commission who bothered to show up, and dubbed Cherry Hill squandering $40,000 last year as, "effectively a break even year." Easy to say when that money is not coming out of her $80,000 annual salary.

And this current year, according to the numbers generated at the half-way point, Cherry Hill is on target to lose another $60,000. And the following year--hold on to your golf caps--well over $100,000!

Because unlike a household or small business, in the wonderful world of municipal accounting little things like employee benefits, insurance and expensive new commercial equipment do not count towards your "operation budget." Last year those three expenses amounted to $40,000--all of it paid for by taxpayers, not a dime from golfers.

Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a new car or truck out of a secret account nobody was watching?

At seasonal closing, the beleaguered golf business has totaled only $82,779, $17,284 under last year, and the lowest amount in six years. Expenses are identical--especially those hidden ones nobody likes to admit.

For instance, capital expenses this year include a $14,154 "fairway mower", next year another $14,154 fairway mower plus a $12,000 rough mower for a total of $26,654.

But what the Hell, since nobody cares about capital items why not go on a whirlwind shopping spree--all of it taxpayer funded? In FY14, two years from now, capital improvements will include yet another fairway ($14,154) and rough mower ($12,500) fence replacement ($24,000) and parking lot resurfacing ($24,000) for a whopping grand total of $135,654 .

If the diffident School Committee can bite the bullet to save money by closing down Mark's Meadow, a beloved elementary school, Town Manager John Musante needs to step up and make the call that should have been made ten years ago: board up the money pit.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Triple Crown of losses

Groff Park pavilion: $150. Picnic table in foreground: free

After shanking Cherry Hill golf revenue projections by $46,463 and recreation/education programs by $76,014, Amherst's Leisure Services and Supplemental Education empire also flailed on pavilion rentals at Mill River and Groff Park, missing projections by $35,938.

Three years ago the recreation department started charging a $150 fee for using the formerly free park pavilions, and LSSE Director Linda Chalfant told the Select Board she was confident this new paradigm would generate $44,880 annually. This past year pavilion rentals totaled a paltry $8,862.

The main problem is people have a hard time paying (a lot) for something they used to get for free, and LSSE relies entirely on the honor method as no employee is charged with permit compliance checks.

Should people appear who do have a valid permit, you can simply move to any nearby picnic table, which is still free. Out of the six party groups I ran into over the summer using the Groff Park pavilion only one said they had taken out a permit and paid the fee.

Either the town needs to get as aggressive as they are with downtown parking enforcement, or return to the good old days--when some basic feel good services were free for the asking.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new paradigm for golf?

Once again we witness the night and day difference between current town manager, John Musante, and the former town mangler Larry Shaffer--this time concerning something of paramount importance: truth-telling.

Five years ago Leisure Services and Supplemental Education and Shaffer had the audacity to issue a press release heralding that year's golf balance sheet, trumpeting a $7,200 "profit" while ignoring $40,000 in "hidden costs" (employee benefits, insurance, new equipment).

In an interview with the Springfield Republican town manager Larry Shaffer crossed the line by saying Cherry Hill required "no tax support." I even asked him at a follow up public meeting if he was misquoted, and he again reaffirmed the lie.

At last night's Select Board meeting the new Finance Director Sandy Pooler admitted Cherry Hill fell far short of FY2011 projected revenues ($270,000), which almost matched the actual $263,670 total cost of operations, with an intake of only $223,537 as first reported here six weeks ago, or a loss of over $40,000.

Of course he could not help but parrot the old excuse of that darn New England weather, but at least he also admitted the down economy takes a toll on the rich man's game of golf. Maybe now that transparency is the new marching order from Town Hall, citizens will get a true picture of the cost of golf.

And, unlike the scenic vistas aficionados admire, it ain't pretty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cherry Hill: A sucking sinkhole

Despite Finance Committee assurances to Town Meeting that our lackadaisical golf course would produce "a small surplus for FY 11," (ended June 30) Cherry Hill scored yet another losing season costing Amherst taxpayers $40,000, money that could have funded a police officer, firefighter or teacher--a far better use for tax dollars than subsidizing the Rich Man's Game of golf.

According to draft figures provided by Comptroller Sonia Aldrich, Cherry Hill generated $223,538 in revenues on "operation expenses" of $220,140 which are the only two figures town officials ever wish to compare.

Since Cherry Hill requires employees, the hidden human costs--employee benefits--which are paid out of a separate budget totaled an additional $25,230; and business liability insurance $3,300 plus a big ticket capital item: $15,000 to dig a new well to feed the expensive irrigation system. Total overhead of $263,670 on revenues of only $223,538 equals $40,132 in red ink.

In 1987 Amherst absorbed the nine-hole golf course after a developer proposed 134 high-end houses around the golf business, which he planned to donate to the town or UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture for free. Instead, the town--at the urging of North Amherst NIMBYs-- used the power of eminent domain as an "emergency measure" (thereby making the heavy handed action immune to voter Referendum) costing taxpayers a whopping $2.2 million, the most expensive acquisition in town history.

The golf course operated as an "Enterprise Fund" (tracking all revenues/expenditures) because the business was supposed to cover all expenses--including employee benefits--plus show a profit. After operational losses of over $1 million Town Meeting dissolved the Enterprise Fund status five years ago, allowing town officials to hide costs and issue disingenuous press releases touting "net operating profits."

Nero supposedly fiddled while Rome burned. In the People's Republic of Amherst, town officials fiddle with golf--at taxpayers expense.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"...failure to communicate."

Click photo to read lettering on the Bus

So I guess if you don't trust the professional DPW (who are, after all, at the bottom of the town pay scale) to get the job done on time-even with last minute notification, you call in the convicts.

But don't get me wrong: I believe that hard labor--chain gangs or cycling up Mt. Washington--is a good thing. And in Northampton, the Honor Court (recovering alcoholics) keeping the city clean is a great thing.

But you still have to wonder if these noble efforts by convicts could be put to better use other than sprucing up the most exclusive endeavor in recreation--golf ? (Well, #2 if you count those indoor Japanese downhill ski facilities.)

But hey, at least the Town Manager did not put them to use fixing up his humble abode on Amity Street now up for sale.

Trial Court Community Service Program

"Our goals are to promote public safety by making participants stakeholders in the community and enrich communities by performing meaningful service."

(key word being "meaningful")

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cherry Hill Golf Course: Municipal bloodsucker

Bad enough the golf course produces more red ink than a Chinese flag factory, but now they're sucking the lifeblood from other departments.

Because the foundering LSSE Recreation Empire is down ten$ of thousand$ they can't afford to spruce up the golf course, so the Town Manager orders the DPW Parks and Recreation Department to drop everything, run out to North Amherst and get the business ready for its Grand Opening (in two days.)

Forget the town common, the ball fields, or the soccer fields; in the People's Republic of Amherst when a White Elephant bellows--you run!

On a losing course at the half way point

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

12:25 PM
Not much going on up at Winter Fest in the remote outskirts of North Amherst, otherwise know as the municipally owned Cherry Hill Golf Course. Who would have figured that town officials would have to pay money over the last 24 hours to make snow while in Washington D.C. they are getting buried in the worst snowstorm of their existence?!

Oh well...hence the problem with things like golf or skiing: relying on Mother Nature as a business model partner is a fast track to bankruptcy (unless of course you can rely on taxpayers for life support.)