Orangetown golf club to stay open for now amid fiscal issues

Orangetown Supervisor Andrew Stewart attends a press conference

Orangetown Supervisor Andrew Stewart attends a press conference outside Clarkstown Town Hall in New City. (June 15, 2012) (Credit: Angela Gaul)

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The Broadacres Golf Club will stay open to see another season, thanks to a vote by the Orangetown board, but may face closure at the end of 2013, as the town seeks to sell or lease the property to eliminate an operating loss that has been running well into six figures.

The 3-to-2 vote to keep the 55-acre course, once part of the Rockland Psychiatric Center, was part of the process of adopting Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart's nearly $63 million budget, passed Tuesday night.

Stewart himself opposed keeping the course open, as did Councilman Paul Valentine, who was initially on the fence.

"The town has to take $300,000 out of its general fund every year to keep it running," Stewart said. "It's very frustrating."

The budget that passed came with a 4.9 percent tax increase, above the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap. It was more than $1 million lower than this year's budget, despite cost increases attributable to state mandates and county chargebacks, Stewart said. The tax increase was necessitated by lost revenues, he said.

Valentine said he voted to get rid of the golf course as a matter of balance.

"I just have a hard time with cutting personnel and programs and keeping a golf course that loses so much money each year," he said.

Among the programs that suffered cuts in the budget were the Candle Program, a substance abuse center run out of local high schools. The program's budget was slashed in half to $32,500, Valentine said. The local library budgets were each cut by 10 percent.

Councilmen Denis Troy, Thomas Diviny and Tom Morr voted to keep it.

"To close it now would have been premature," said Troy, who was on the town board when the plot of 350 acres in Orangeburg, which included the golf course, was purchased for $6 million in 2003. "If we can close it with a plan, then I can agree to that."

Troy said a request for proposal will be drafted in January, when the town will start seeking private bidders to sell or lease the course.

"By the end of next year, we'll make a determination," Troy said. "If we just close it and not maintain it, we lose the asset. We need better planning."

Joe Warfter, the golf course manager, has said it would cost more than $500,000 to get the course back in shape if it is left unattended for just six months.

May Kreider, president of the 60-member Broadacres Ladies Golf League, gushed that she and her golf buddies will be able to hit the green again.

"It was very good news," Kreider said. "I'm so happy we get to keep it, even if it's just promised until next year. I know not everybody is happy over it but it is good news."

Although Orangetown also has Blue Hill, a town-run 27-hole golf course, Kreider said senior citizens benefit from the smaller Broadacres, as they can play with a higher handicap.

"It's a good place," Kreider said. "I think it's an asset to the town. We have so many things for the young people and we need that, but we have to take into consideration for the older crowd that we need these things, too. It's a place to call our own."

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