At the 3:00 p.m. afternoon work session on Monday Nov. 17, Supervisor Weinstein read a statement concerning the purchase of Glen Oak Golf Course, selling Audubon and purchasing Westwood. It was a bit confusing and I asked for him to share the information with the audience at the 7:00 p.m. evening meeting. He was unwilling to do so but was willing for me to publish the remarks here on my site. It’s a longer piece than I usually post, but I thought you would find the information interesting. You can also view the video of him reading this at the afternoon meeting on the town website. Click here.
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November 16, 2015
We have spent the past six years trying to improve services, reducing their cost. Our most recent initiative, the privatization or outsourcing of our golf operation has improved the golf course according to the people who play Audubon and Oakwood.
Determining whether there is a saving is impossible because of allocation issues, but there is rental income not previously realized. Reducing golf course expenses is related to the Highway operation, and we made a conscious decision to restore six positions at the request of the Highway Superintendent and crew chiefs.
Amherst now has an opportunity to purchase the Glen Oak Golf Course for $4.6 million. We have worked out a proposed timeline with the owner that would result in the real estate closing at the end of 2016. I do not believe that it is for sale to anyone else.
Glen Oak is a terrific golf course. It is far superior to Audubon in design, challenges, greens, fairways, tees, and traps.
Purchasing the Glen Oak Golf Course will provide a superior golf experience for Amherst residents. It will eliminate potential development of the site. It will provide an end to the cart path controversy around the golf course with the neighborhood. Ownership may also allow Amherst to correct some drainage problems in the neighborhood.
The first challenge is paying for it. I have proposed to reconfigure the Audubon Golf Course and use 25 to 75 acres adjacent to Millersport and DB with no neighbors for development. The revenue would pay for the Glen Oak Golf Course, and any excess would be put into a Trust and Agency account, which I will allude to shortly. Amherst would need another alienation process, so this would need to be approved by the NYS Legislature and the Governor, and Town Board unanimity would by very helpful.
Amherst would need appraisals, due diligence, contract negotiations, short-term bonding, negotiations with and another golf course RFP.
My expectation is the development potential along Millersport adjacent to VB could provide substantial revenue. After paying the Glen Oak costs, a Trust and Agency account would be created from the revenue for additional open space acquisitions.
This brings me to the former Westwood Country Club site, now contaminated by arsenic and surrounded by a spite fence. We have sent the owners a letter suggesting that they and the town jointly seek state money to purchase the site, much like Amherst State Park on Mill Street was acquired. The town would be willing to provide oversight and maintenance if acquired. Left unsaid is the town would be able to put in some dollars from the aforementioned Trust and Agency account
From discussion with the DEC, we believe that the former Westwood Country Club site would not require cleanup for use as a park, ball fields, or a golf course.
Additionally related to these real estate transactions and the Trust and Agency account, the town may be able to acquire the site of the former gun club for expansion of the Northtown Center’s athletic complex.
On the agenda for tonight is the Penny Lane for Gramercy Park real estate swap. We are trading an underutilized but developable five acres for over 60 acres of pristine wetlands and forests adjacent to several town-owned passive recreation and flood mitigation sites at no cost to the taxpayers. Over the past year, this transaction has evolved through some of the same issues as the golf course transactions, including litigation, negotiations, alienation, rezoning, and a variance.
I realize this is a lot. It is an outline of a series of real estate transactions. It is subject to changes. I can answer questions for a few minutes, and I certainly would like some input or suggestions from the public and Councilmembers.