My name is Greg Dowdell and I am currently a member of the Professional Golfer's Association. I am a resident of nearby Medway, I have an engineering degree, and also have a full time job as a land surveyor where we deal with many issues such as wetland regulations and parking lot design. I am also a member of the Norfolk Golf Committee. My golf course experience spans three decades at numerous facilities both public and private, in New England as well as Florida. I was elected a member by the P.G.A. by first passing a player ability test and then attending four rigorous levels of knowledge testing including business, management and teaching skills.
I have been acting as an advisor to the Norfolk Golf Committee for two years and I think its important for everyone to know exactly how we got to this point in the project. Maybe then it will be easier to move forward and complete the process.
The Golf Committee came together with just one great idea: to create revenue for the town of Norfolk so such issues as schools, fire departments, etc. become less financially dependent on the taxpayers. No one else in town was doing anything to help and the enthusiasm I found at the very first meeting was very encouraging. I really felt that with all of our various backgrounds of finance, registered surveyor, local realtor, town politicians and countless others would contribute and participate in this incredibly intricate and sensitive golf course project.
So we sat down with our Norfolk Assessors maps and began to look at large enough parcels of land. There aren't many, but we decided to focus on 600 acres behind the present Recreation complex. Our first issue just came up. Where do we start? We had no idea. How do we buy the land? Is it even for sale? How do we know if it is suitable for a golf course? Will the area's economy support the facility? We weren't sure of any of these answers but we knew one thing: we needed money to do the studies. Next we had a state representative attend one of our meetings and he told us of a debt service to the state that would allow us to borrow the funds to build recreation such as a golf course. So we decided to continue to pursue the idea.
The Golf Committee then put together a presentation for the town of Norfolk and at a public town meeting in May of 2000 we were granted $25,000 for the study of this municipal golf course idea. This is when everyone both for and against the idea should have gotten involved. From this point on all of our meetings were public.
Next we hired the Boston Survey Company to look at our 600 acres and paid them to do a suitability study for the land. The study came back and revealed public wells too close to the area. The site was then abandoned by the Golf Committee.
The next parcel we began to look at was the Buckley and Mann location as well as the neighboring parcels. It was at this point that we began to realize what an incredible undertaking we had started and what a staggering number of bridges we would have to cross to achieve success. We asked ourselves all of the questions we are now hearing from concerned citizens. We discussed, debated, questioned, came up with "what ifs", "pros and cons" and then we did it all over again. Our conclusion: there was no way we could do this project without the help of all our resources. The townspeople, the various town committees and most of all we had to rely on the help of professional, experienced people.
When questions on local traffic came up we didn't try to guess at numbers and figures, we relied on someone with experience to give us answers. When construction costs came up we had a topnotch architectural firm with hundreds of projects under their belts give us answers and then we double checked those figures with software purchased from the National Golf Foundation. When financing and revenue came up we researched, gathered data, made phone calls, compared notes as well as personal experiences. When the sensitive issue of of environment came up we discussed a great deal of our approach. Again, we decided professionals would guide us.
After hearing all sides and after discussing every issue on the land, wetlands regulations, course layout, abutter concerns, etc.,etc., things started falling into place. Not only was the land for sale, but the owner was eager to work with us to see recreation was developed and not houses. All of our suitability and feasibility studies were pointing towards a beautiful setting that would yield profit. So we continued our research and discussions on every little issue we could find. We asked ourselves all of the same questions we are hearing today.
This project might seem like it is shrouded in mystery but believe me when I say this project goes well beyond the scope of the Norfolk Golf Committee. Incredible amounts of time and energy have been put into this project so far from the Advisory Council right down to the taxpayer. If we ever do get to play golf out at Bush Pond remember one thing: you can be sure that every single issue will have been discussed, analyzed, looked at, studied, dissected, reviewed and regulated by more than one committee whose job it is to see things get done according to the law. Please trust the Selectman and others and let's move forward! Conservation just may find a blue-spotted salamander, a geohydrologist just may determine the water supply inadequate, Lawrence Street may need constuction and we can't afford it, and if any or all of these things happen the project will come to an end. Period.
So let's look forward try your hardest to accept a golf course as both profitable and environmentally friendly where countless animals and plant species thrive and more importantly generations of people will enjoy recreation together. It's certainly better than the alternative...
Greg Dowdell, Advisor, Norfolk Golf Committee