Bethlehem agrees to lease golf course

The town board has approved an agreement between the Open Space Conservancy and Bethlehem to lease Colonial Acres Golf Course for $1 a year.

The town proposed to lease and maintain the 43-acre Colonial Acres property to preserve open space. The course takes up approximately 30 of those 43 acres.

There were some questions regarding maintenance of the course and future infrastructure upgrades after it fell into the town's hands. Resident Robert Jasinski asked how the town was going to pay a workforce to maintain the open land and golf course.

It seems our staff is already overextended on parks and recreation, said Jasinski.

Councilman Daniel Plummer said the town will most likely retain Colonial Acres' "workforce of one person" to maintain the property after the deal goes through. He said there is the possibility that the individual would become a town employee as time goes on.

The parcel will be removed from the tax rolls, he said, but Plummer said user fees generated by the course will also pay for maintenance and infrastructure. He said the fee structure will most likely remain the same as it is now, with both membership dues and pay-as-you-go fees.

"We're hoping to make money, but I'm confident that we can at least break even," he said.

The course will be open to residents and non-residents.

Other council members applauded the proposed acquirement.

"I haven't seen any more practical way to preserve open space than what the town board has done with this golf course," said Councilman Samuel Messina.

He noted the size and scope of the land that would be acquired if the deal goes through, and said, "I think the board felt that unless there was some creativity and some partnership, that would have gone the way of most open land " being developed."

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