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Where is grass greener?

Town, groundskeeper at odds on course closure, public to have say

Colonial Acres Superintendent Patrick Blum feels the golf course is being leveraged as a budgetary quick fix.

Colonial Acres Superintendent Patrick Blum feels the golf course is being leveraged as a budgetary quick fix. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Blum, who has worked at the golf course since 1994, thinks Colonial Acres could continue to exist as a minimalist course. He said it has always operated without the need of a clubhouse or indoor bathrooms, and he argued a new footbridge could be built in-house for far less then estimated. He also said the need to upgrade the sewer and irrigations systems is a number of years away.

“We’ve been operating about $2,800 below our budget each year, and we’ve cut about $5,400 from next year’s operating budget,” he said. “Maintenance will suffer a bit and the course will go from A grade to B or C, but we’ll do it if it’s needed.”

Bethlehem Supervisor John Clarkson has suggested the possibility of creating a nonprofit to continue running the course if an outside agency didn’t wish to take over the job. Blum said he doesn’t feel that would work.

“We’re currently supposed to be self sustaining,” he said. “The point of the partnership was so that the town was essentially our nonprofit. If it’s not working now, why would it work if someone else took it over?”

Town Comptroller Mike Cohen said the figures included within the tentative budget were estimates generated by the Parks and Recreation Department. The only actual savings accounted for by closing the golf course is the estimated $40,000 annual loss. Cohen said he felt more should have been included as savings, like the time town employees outside the golf course spend on maintenance or the need for equipment upgrades.

“Projected life of equipment is an asset,” he said. “Every time you utilize it, you are extracting life from it. We could hypothetically sell it. It’s not my point that we should sell the equipment, but that is part of the golf course that is not factored in yet.”

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