Golf Course Woes
Discussion over the Cobble Hill Golf Course grew heated as the board rushed to set rates prior to the course's opening.
Merrihew and Fenimore presented the consensus of their committee meeting with golf course manager Bruce McPhail. They suggested keeping all rates level except for an increase on membership fees for ELCS students from $30 to $75. They also suggested removing the special rate for play after 4 p.m.
"In light of the current economic times, we did not feel there was an area where we were willing to step forward this year. We didn't feel this was the time to be raising those costs."
Martin argued against the modest changes, however, saying more fee increases were needed to keep the course profitable."
"The bottom line on this is the course isn't making money," he said, arguing that the course should be treated as a business even though it is municipally owned. "The rest of the public doesn't want to pay for something they're not using."
Martin said that the rates have remained virtually the same for the past five years and cutting down on personnel at the course would not be feasible.
"I can't agree with not raising the rates this year," Martin said, suggesting raising all membership rates for residents by $50, or possibly making them equal to non-resident rates.
"Even though the economic times are bad, this is a luxury," he added, "it's not a necessity."
"I still believe and support the idea that the residents should get some break," argued Merrihew.
Fenimore said significantly raising the rates would probably drive away golfers to other nearby golf courses.
Merrihew added that steps were being taken to reduce expenditures at the golf course, including a negotiation with the power company to reduce electricity costs. Even though the course is in the red, it still adds value to the town and its businesses, he said.
Hutchins suggested gradual increases in rates may be in order, so golfers wouldn't be as surprised by a drastic increase.
Ultimately Martin withdrew his suggestions, allowing the board to vote on the initial plan. Martin was the only councilman to vote against it.