Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart sent a memo to members of the town board suggesting a discussion of closing Broadacres Golf Course.
The issue will be part of the town board workshop 8 p.m. tonight at the town hall.
Stewart's memo lays out the reasons the town should consider closing the 9-hole golf course, which was built on land that was formerly part of the Rockland Psychiatric Center, as follows:
- Broadacres Golf Course (BGC) runs a significant deficit every year (see Table 1), as does Blue Hill Golf Course (BHGC), and BGC is clearly the town's secondary golf operation (albeit one that seems quite well run and well used). This is a deficit that the town simply cannot afford, given that we already have a beautiful 27-hole golf course, and the town has other needs, not the least of which are dealing with a shrinking tax base, escalating labor costs, developing RPC lands, and accommodating various costs being passed down by the financially crisis-ridden county.
- The trends in the golf market seem to show a decline over time -- it will probably never be possible to run BGC at a profit, using union labor, in competition with surrounding golf courses. Regarding privatizing management -- it does not appear to be legal under current CSEA contract to privatize jobs -- you have to eliminate the service or program completely, apparently.
- The opportunity cost of maintaining a golf course is the lost tax revenues on more appropriate development of this land and the critical role of this land in a successful solution to the RPC dilemma -- financing demolition and cleanup of all those empty buildings. Closing BGC can certainly stop the harm being done by this program to the town's budget, but the greatest benefit of closing BGC will be the redevelopment of this land as a part of RPC and the positive effects on our tax base, employment opportunities and business environment this redevelopment will have."
Stewart included tables that show losses of between $100,00 and $300,000 every year since 2005. Bad weather among other issues led to a drop in revenues that put the course's deficit at $311,885 for 2011.
His memo projects savings to be limited in year one after the closing due to the cost of unemployment insurance for town employees who would be laid off. From the second year on, however, he projects savings of $135,000 per year.
The elimination of Broadacres would also more likely send more business to Blue Hill Golf Course.
"Broadacres is a beloved recreation asset to a certain portion of Orangetown residents," Stewart wrote in his conclusion. "For the majority, the failure to close the golf course represents a failure to take responsibility for the town's budget and plan for the future. Unless the people of this town really believe it is worth raising taxes and forgoing economic development to maintain an extra nine holes of golf over and above the 27 holes at Blue Hill, the town board needs to act decisively to close Broadacres and initiate a redevelopment process on that land. This will end the hemorrhaging of money from BGC, begin to address the structural deficit in the town's golf fund, and chart a course toward prosperity."
The full text of Stewart's memo and the agenda for Thursday's workshop are attached to this report.