continued “In order to remain competitive in that area … we have to change the mentality,” he said.
The course has been operated by the town since 2008, and in the first few years of that agreement Bethlehem turned a profit. Then just down the road came Hidden Meadows, an 18-hole, par-3 course with many of the amenities the municipal course lacks. The number of rounds played plummeted—even with last summer's ideal weather, just 6,662 rounds were played, barely half of the action the course saw in 2008 and only a handful more than the rainy summer of 2011.
There was general agreement between the four Town Board members present at Thursday's workshop private management of the course should be pursued. When it came to the timeline, however, there was some debate.
Clarkson argued the town should still defund the course when the 2013 budget is adopted next Wednesday. That, he argued, would get the town effectively out of the way and hasten an agreement between a manager and the Open Space Institute, the landowner that leases the course to the town for $1 per year.
But Councilwoman Joann Dawson disagreed, saying the town should make sure a plan is in place for the course's future before taking it off the books.
“The town's involvement in Colonial Acres took a long time, it didn't happen overnight,” she said. “We're not going to do that in a week, we're not going to do it in four months. I would hope we could do it in 14 months.”
Councilman Kyle Kotary had a similar outlook. He also pointed out when spread over five years of ownership the course has lost about $15,000, which he reckoned is par for the course for many of the town's recreational offerings.
“My fear, based on what everyone in golf tells me, is if it sits for a year, it's done,” he said.