The Municipal Golf Course
Extracted from the Norfolknet Notes.
- 5/17 12:47pm Last night the was the final chapter of the proposed golf course on Lawrence St. Although I was not a proponent of a golf course at that site, I would like to say that Joe Byrne deserves the respect of every citizen in Norfolk for having the tenacity to pursue his passion of building a golf course in Norfolk. Joe, I truly hope that someday, somewhere you have the opportunity to see your dream come true and are able to play on a course you were instrumental in building.
- - MA
- 12/19 9:22am ``Another one bites the dust.'' - JW
- 12/19 12:04am The Selectmen voted 3-0 last night to stop authorizing further expenditures for the golf course study. The Website Committee was on the selectmen's agenda, and I was there for almost three hours, but came away with some good quotes. - Wm.``To be perfectly honest, [the NGF study] made my decision. . . . I came away thinking that this isn't going to work. . . . [T]he piece of property gives me goosebumps.''
- - Joyce Terrio, Selectman
``I thought it was a great idea; I still think it's a great idea. . . . We [he and Joe Byrne] both know it's in trouble because of the numbers. . . . My responsibilities to the town have to outweigh the desires of my heart''
- - Jack McFeeley, Selectman
- 12/7 1:28pm Andras on 11/29 at 11:48 you stated "it's from someone who personally spoke to the consultant and heard it from him". That is the fact. - JB
- 12/7 11:41am Regarding Wm's. response to JB on 12/6, I think you need to re-read what you wrote before responding. A quote from the post of AR to PG on 11/29 @ 11:48am, [ . . . ], "it's from someone who personally spoke with the consultant and heard it from him." Sounds like someone did speak directly with Rick Norton of NGF. Since the agreement with all parties was that Bob Markel would be the only person to contact NGF, it must have been Bob! Either that or someone failed to adhere to the agreement. The way I see it, business as usual in Norfolk!
- PS: You can put all the spin that you want on what the Feasibility Study says and in the end it still says the same thing, the price of the land is too high, end of story!
- - PR
[That AR did, yes. My mistake, and I apologize to have mis-spoken. But is asking Rick Norton the person a few questions the same as talking to NGF the consulting company? Always? Is it the same even after the report is done? After he changes jobs? Admittedly, debating this point is arguing semantics; the truth is it never occurred to me that the exclusion might apply to the circumstances as I understood them. - Wm.]
- 12/6 3:15pm To Andras (Wm.), Without getting specific once again you quote several inaccuracies, don't know if you are doing this to be self promoting on your website or not. Last week you made a comment on people talking to NGF directly, to back up your claims we are still waiting for you answer "WHO" to legitimize your comments. Until then no credibility is found in your comments.
- - JB
[Ok, I'll bite ``once again'' - what inaccuracies? As to validating comments - a rumor is either true or not; the source is not relevant. But I never mentioned anyone ``talking to NGF directly,'' what I said was the consultant ``feels pressured to change the conclusion.'' He could have been asked through any number of intermediaries for all I know. - Wm.]
- 12/6 12:16pm Paul, I object to your assertion that I ``slammed the owners.'' I pointed out that the town would be placing itself in a position of having no protection other than the word of a few individuals, and no matter how well-meaning, the property is ultimately controlled by a corporation subject to a board, shareholders, solvency, and heirs. Simply as a matter of policy, no public agency should place the citizens' interest in a position where there are no legally enforceable guarantees.
- As to investing the $12 million, sure - if it is borrowed, then for the first 20-30 years it will be paying itself off. Once paid off, however, all the income would remain in town. Of course, it's not likely that anyone would approve a loan for such a scheme.
- But I was actually thinking that if instead of overrides to pay for golf course debt, town voters were to pass an investment override for the same $400K a year, $12 million would accumulate over the next 30 years. During that time, the annual revenue would steadily increase - $240,000 per year after 10 years, $480K after 20, etc. After 30 years, it's $720,000 pure profit, every year, forever. I don't see a circularity.
- - Andras (Wm.)
- 12/6 11:39am To Wm - After listening to the presentation of the NGF's feasibility study I reached the following conclusion: Given the cost of debt service and the cost of land purchase and the cost of construction the golf course is probably not feasible at that location.
- However, I have to take issue with two of the points you made; your response to the idea of the town possibly leasing the 12 acres of land that is in question regarding contamination was to slam the owners. "[. . .] I don't see anything to prevent the 12 acres from simply being abandoned and left to be claimed by the town for failure to pay taxes." You opinion, then, of the owners is that they are untrustworthy and their word is worthless. I'll bet they don't appreciate that opinion of them. The other issue is your example of taking the $12 million dollars and investing it in 6% yield bonds is a circular argument since that $750,000 would have to be used to service the debt at the same rate.
- The truth seems to be that the golf course at that location under these conditions may not be a very good idea. We could very easily have arrived at that position without once having to slam anyone. It really does not serve a usful purpose.
- - Paul Guertin
- 12/6 9:23am The Boston Globe has an article on the NGF golf course presentation in today's paper. (Sorry, I couldn't find the article on-line; I must have missed it.) They summarize nicely the issues that were presented.
- Speaking of the NGF presentation, I prepared a brief writeup on it almost a week ago, but then it got shuffled to the back of my e-mail pile. Prompted by the Globe article, I dug it out and here it is:Town administrator Bob Markel did a good job summarizing the contents of the report, and the consultant was on conference call to answer questions.- Wm.
Some highlights of the meeting that caught my attention:
- discussion of the golf course is no longer about how much money it will make, but about how much taxpayer subsidy it will require. The scramble now is to find a way to reduce construction costs and find unusual ways to finance the project to not be wildly in the red. There are no longer any positive revenue projections on the table.
- when asked how much revenue the golf course will bring the town, the only answer given was ``it depends on the bond rate.'' (By my reading, under most scenarios evaluated the course would be a net money loser for the town for the next 20-30 years or more. Looking at the return on investment, it's worse - consider, if the town were to invest the $12 million cost into goverment bonds at a low 6% yield, it would net us more revenue ($720,000 per year) than the golf course ever would.)
- the latest thinking on the contamination issue is that the sellers would keep title to the studied and known-affected 12 acres for 15-20 years, hoping that during that time the issues will be resolved. Of course, once the money changes hands, it shouldn't be difficult for a corporate attorney to transfer the title of the 12 acres to an un-funded corporation that will be unable to meet any cleanup obligations; in fact, I don't see anything to prevent the 12 acres from simply being abandoned and left to be claimed by the town for failure to pay the taxes.
- the tentative course layout impinges on three known vernal pools on the property; a more detailed look will have to be taken to see whether the layout can be modified without affecting the quality of play
- the golf committee suggested that they are looking at the possibility of building housing on part of the parcel to help finanace the golf course. The irony of their 180-degree turn, from promoting the course as a way of preventing development to building the houses themselves, seemed lost.
- 11/30 11:55am I was unable to attend the NGF presentation last night. Did NGF explain the reasons for this paragraph to change between drafts? I hope they had a better reason then the final draft took in to account a clubhouse with lockers.
- Final Draft The challenge that Norfolk may have is finding a way to pay for the land. Given an anticipated construction and permitting process of $ 5 to $6 million range, a $7 to $9 million level of warranted investment may not leave sufficient room for land acquisition after setting aside funds for bond issuance costs and reserves to cover interest expenses in the early years of operations.
- Final Presentation NGF Consulting concludes that the most prudent level of capitalization for the proposed Town of Norfolk Golf Course would be in the $6 to $8 million range. Development and permitting costs are estimated at $4.5 to $6.0 million. Additional costs that must be capitalized include land, bond issuance costs and capitalized interest expense.
- - MA
[The report now says (concluding paragraphs): The challenge that Norfolk may have is finding a way to pay for the land. Given an anticipated construction and permitting process of $4.5 to $6 million, an $8 million level of warranted investment may not leave sufficient room for land acquisition after setting aside funds for bond issuance costs and reserves to cover interest expenses in the early years of operations. - Wm.]
- 11/29 5:14pm The final version of the NGF Feasibility Study is out, check it out here (large, 928K PDF).
[Note: this revised version of the note links to a copy of the document on a different server - Wm.]
- 11/29 3:55pm Where this rumor came from is in the initial draft a clubhouse with lockers was included for a higher cost. With Bob Markel the Golf Comm. communicated this back to NGF as an error and they corrected their misunderstanding. Now I would like to know the person who has communicated with NGF directly because it was clearly stated several times that no one other than Bob Markel was to communicate with NGF to maintain the objectivity of the report. Feel free to call me or post the name on the your website. Thursday at 2:30.
- - JB
- 11/29 3:54pm To AR - "tampering" of course suggests something underhanded and dishonest, an act not to brought into the light of day. I think when you find out the facts of the situation you will think twice before you describe the acts of others with such moral certitude. It seems it would be better to find out the facts before you start accusing folks of things they MAY NOT be guilty of.
- - PG
- 11/29 11:48am To PG, who asked whether the rumour of "tampering" is true - well, it's from someone who personally spoke with the consultant and heard it from him. Since I have full trust in this someone, and the consultant has no reason to make it up, I'm confident that it is true. But I really really would like it not to be.
- - AR
- 11/29 10:10am To AR- Now do you know this rumor of "tampering" to be true or do you feel it necessary to protect the town from every rumor and innuendo that comes down the pike. And if you know it to be true, just how do you know it to be true. And if it is a rumor, why did you bring it up? Don't you think there is far too much rumoring in this town, all of which gets in the way of folks learning what is really happening?
- - PG
- 11/28 9:54pm Heard in passing something that, if true, really bothers me. The NGF consultant who wrote the feasibility study feels pressured to change the conclusion of his report to be more favorable for the golf course.
- Now, is it just me, or is this tampering with the expert advice on which the town is relying for impartial analysis?
- - AR
- 11/18 2:15pm RL inquired about the cost of debt service for the proposed golf course. As presented at Town Meeting in June, debt service was calculated at 6%. Assuming the special legislation was approved, debt service started at $567,000 in year 2, grew to $940,000 in year 3 and continued at that level for the 20 year life of the bond. Clearly, $519,000 in cash flow to service debt will be inadequate to cover $940,000 in annual debt service.
- The issue here is that the rate on the bond will not be fixed until AFTER the permitting and construction are complete. As presented by our Municipal Advisor, the financing plan calls for short term bond anticipation notes to be issued to fund the land purchase, permitting, design and development costs. Interest due on those notes would then be rolled into principal on the 20 year bond which would be issued at completion of the course. That's the capitalized interest of $1,255,000 included in the Town Meeting presentation as part of the total $10,725,000 borrowing. Because permitting etc. will take at minimum 30 months to complete, we are effectively saying that we believe the Town's interest rate in 2004-5 will be 6%.
- Given our financial condition and municipal rate history, 6% seemed a reasonable assumption at Town Meeting. However, two factors are important to note here. 1) According to the NGF report, the 30 month schedule is "optimistic" (p. 36) and the timing of permits etc. "is a function of numerous variables that are beyond the control of the Town or its consultants." (p.35) We could be looking much farther out than 2 1/2 years. 2)The Town will be looking at many major projects in the next 18 months, a major library addition, new fire station, significant changes to the middle, elementary and high schools. If we approve any or several of these, we will be adding to the Town's debt and leverage BEFORE the golf course debt is issued. In light of these two factors, a lower interest rate would seem unwarranted. The NGF report concurs with that conclusion. Despite showing the borrowing supported by 4.25% vs 6% debt, the authors explicitly state "Certainly arguments could be made that a running level of $675,000 to $750,000 in NOI (net operating income to service debt) could be obtained and that this course could generate sufficient income to retire $9 to 12 million of capitalized debt. However, in NGF Consulting's opinion, the risks do not warrant the rewards." (p. 47) That opinion is borne out by comparison with courses built in similar towns. Bridgewater, with a capitalized investment of $5 million, is profitable. Acushnet, with capitalized debt of $6.8MM, is not.
- - CE
[To summarize: debt service of $940,000 a year for 18 years, vs. expected income of $519,000 per year. Bond rate to be fixed after additional town expenditures (eg. library, fire station, schools) are taken on, affecting our credit rating and thus the interest rate (ok, I looked this up - US T-bills maturing in 20-24 years currently yield 5.6 %; would investors purchase municipal bonds that are both less secure and yield less?) And, in the professional opinion of the National Golf Foundation, borrowing $9 million or more for a golf course in Norfolk is too risky and not warranted. - Wm.]
- 11/17 2:34pm Now having skimmed the NGF Feasibility Study (the third, ``definitive'' and hopefully final look into whether building a Norfolk municipal golf course has merit), following are some excerpts. Starting with the bottom line, the NGF recommendation:``Certainly arguments could be made that a running level of $675,000 to $750,000 in NOI could be obtained and that this course could generate sufficient income to retire $ 9 to 12 million of capitalized debt. However, in NGF Consulting's opinion, the risks do not warrant the rewards.'' (p. 47) [emphasis added]And, of course, nowhere in the report are the costs associated with the site remediation and environmental cleanup addressed.
``NGF Consulting concludes that the most prudent level of capitalization for the proposed Town of Norfolk Golf Course would be in the $6 to $8 million range.'' (p. 47)
``At a 6.0 percent cost of debt (figure used in June of 2001) the warranted level of investment would be more in the $6 to $7 million range. An investment level of $7 to $9 million would be considerably higher than the experience of other recent municipal projects in the state.'' (p. 48)
``NGF Consulting learned that even before September 11 th , overall golf rounds were generally down anywhere from 10 to 15 percent in 2001.'' (p. 3)
``The challenge that Norfolk may have is finding a way to pay for the land.'' (p. 7)
``Compared to other metropolitan areas of the country golf is relatively inexpensive in Norfolk County. At the best courses green fees rarely exceed $40 on weekdays and $50 on weekends. Even guest fees at the better private courses are within this range.'' (p. 26)
``Maplegate, Glen Ellen, Brookmeadow and New England CC represent the principal market competition for the proposed Town of Norfolk golf course. The Town of Norfolk golf course must provide services equal to or better than these existing golf facilities.'' (p. 30)
- - Wm.
- 11/15 9:56pm Hello, I quickly scanned the Golf Course study - it seems like a thorough piece of work.
- I found the below facts especially relevant. Income before Debt service by year 5 reaches $519,000. And if the rounds played are lower by 10% this amount decreases by $155,000.
- What is the expected annual Debt Service on the $10 million dollar bond?
On Pg 6 (and repeated later in more detail) they evaluate the "warranted investment" is $9.8 million with a 4.25 % interest rate and only 6.9 Million at the higher 6 % interest rate - these figures are lower if the expected rounds is less. [and higher if there are more rounds played]
- Do we know what the expected interest rate of the bonds is?
From a prudence standpoint it seems one should plan for the worst-case - so an investment of $10 million seems too much for a successful course that would contribute to the town finances. The appendix with comparison courses is also interesting. Bridgewater is highly successful - but that course has a bond of only $5 million (half the proposed cost of Norfolk) because the land had been purchased 20 years before. (Pg 48)
- The report answers a lot of questions but for me brings the viability of the course (even aside from environmental issues) even more into doubt.
[Excerpted from Pg 5]
TOWN OF NORFOLK GOLF COURSE OPERATING CASH FLOW PROJECTIONS- RL
($ thousands of dollars)
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Net operating income before debt service $ 16 $ 329 $ 340 $ 430 $ 519
- 11/14 12:37pm The final draft NGF report has been released; we have not read it yet, but put a copy on-line here (830K PDF). It's also not clear what ``final draft'' means.
[11/14 11:49pm Update: It's draft because some diagrams and maps are still missing. The report is also available from the golf committee documents page; it's the topmost one, ``Draft Feasibility Study 11/13/01''. I'll leave the local copy for the time being, but will eventually remove it and simply link to the one on the golf committe page. - Wm.]
- 10/30 10:53pm Proposed Golf Course Update -
- In response to those who've asked for a summary of the current status: At Town Meeting on Saturday, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) gave the town an update on the project. He indicated that, following the Spring Town Meeting vote, the National Golf Foundation was commissioned to do a feasibility study that will provide a more detailed analysis of the financial viability of the project. The results of the feasibility study are due in early November, and will be available for public review. The results will be formally presented by the NGF and BOS at a dedicated meeting of the BOS on November 19, and there will be a Q&A session following the presentations.
- Also at Town Meeting, the Town Administrator confirmed that there is currently no written agreement between the town and any of the property owners for the proposed golf course site. There is a draft purchase and sale agreement that includes indemnification language to protect the town from liability associated with contamination, but the property owners have been unwilling to sign the P&S with this language. Negotiations are expected to continue until the October 31 deadline, which may be extended if both parties so desire.
- Finally, the BOS Chairman confirmed that none of the $10.7M voted on at the Spring Town Meeting had been spent, and that the BOS anticipates reaching a Go/No-Go decision on the project in early December.
- 10/25 9:50pm Where is the Golf Committee's web site? And will it explain why the committee is focused exclusively on the Buckley & Mann property? - HPK
[They are linked from the menu bar on the side of the page (in the Municipal Pages section), and the direct link is through here - Wm.]
- 10/25 3:50pm In response to JB:
- I explained that the timing of the posts depends on the rest of my schedule; I'm sorry if I can't drop everything else to be prompt enough to your standards. I didn't get to any other of the afternoon posts until late yesterday night; I needed to get some other stuff done. The Golf Committee already has a web page of its own, maintained by the town at town expense, perhaps that could be a place to look for faster updates. There are also a number of sites on the internet that host discussion forums of all sorts, fully automated, and those might have posts appear immediately. Think of this site more as a small-town newspaper that happens to be published several times a day. There are articles, there are letters, and there are editorials, but the publication appears when the publisher feels that it is ready.
- The following, however, bothers me: ``My problem with this site continues that when messages are posted the webmaster takes liberty of posting their comments and changes these comments after people submit their own.'' You've said this before, and I guess I don't understand what you are referring to. Perhaps you could give a for-instance to help me see what you mean.
- - Wm.
- 10/25 3:05pm Allow me to provide an analogy and then a proposed plan for the Golf Course project. The Golf Committee spent many months talking with course owners and managers and golf industry experts to determine if a municipal golf course would be financially viable for Norfolk. They strongly concluded that such a course would be financially successful. However there was an opposing analysis by residents and the BOS requested an independent financial feasibility study. The Golf Committee and Bob Markel worked diligently and finally selected the National Golf Foundation and we are awaiting their report. Now for the analogy. CDM has spent years investigating and remediating the contamination at the Buckley & Mann property. They strongly believe that the clean up, within their scope of work (12 acres, excluding the existing buildings), was completed in accordance with state environmental laws. Town residents, some with expertise in the environmental profession, have diligently analyzed the work done by CDM and presented a case that the town faces risks with possibly large financial implications. Just as the town is paying for a financial feasibility study by an independent firm, perhaps the town needs to pay for an independent environmental analysis of the property. The Golf Committee has always sought to obtain the property free of un-remediated contamination. The Mann's (relying on CDM's expertise) have assured the town that the property will be sold in such a condition. Now the plan. First, give the Mann's the opportunity to demolish the existing buildings, clear the land, have CDM investigate, test, remediate (if necessary) these areas around the buildings. Second, hire an independent environmental firm to investigate the site and the reports prepared by CDM and the PIP group. I realize that some believe that the MEPA process will provide the town with the needed environmental assessment, however it is my understanding that the MEPA process will not determine whether previous clean up efforts were performed properly or completely. A separate, independent environmental investigation should give the town a better understanding of the risks associated with purchasing the property.
- - RN
- 10/25 3:04pm TO: Wm
Written by Wm:Re: post by Todd Monjar on deceitful wrongdoing - I'm sorry you perceive my objections as ``accusations of lying and false deeds.'' I was trying to point out actions and statements that I found repeatedly incorrect, and unwilling to be corrected. Insisting that there is no contamination on the site after having been informed by town counsel, in writing, that the opposite is true is not very forthcoming. I don't know why the continued insistence, but one may consider this ``factual evidence of dishonesty or deceit.'' And with that substantiation, I suppose that should now dissipate the ``highly dangerous atmosphere for one to live in. And one highly distasteful.'' I agree about the distasteful, though I ought to make certain and ask, dangerous to whom? One in general, or to me in particular? Why, if I didn't know that we live in such a peaceful little town, filled with kind warm-hearted people, I would think that was a threat.ARRGGHHHH!!!! This is so frustrating. When has anyone said there is NO contamination on the land? Maybe you heard that we were told by CDM that levels were acceptable with in the state boundries. The GC are not environmental experts, supposedly CDM is. This seems to be an issue with CDM and their responses (or lack thereof) and the CURRENT owners of the land. We are on the same page sir. But let me state this for the umpteenth time: the GC's clear position from it's inception (and LONG before any folks opposed to the idea ever took a position) is if along the way there arises issues that would prove detrimental to the Town, that we would SUPPORT THE DECISION BY THE TOWN TO CEASE DEVELOPMENT OF A GOLF COURSE IN TOWN. You seem to know so much about the state of our minds, intentions and thoughts so let me ask this again: What is in it for us as residents to do something that is detrimental to our own well-being?
- In your mind you have substantiated dishonesty and deceit but what proof do you have? This is a serious accusation and I am highly disturbed that you can come to such a certain conclusion from not having attended ONE Golf Committee meeting or knowing any of us personally. What is " a dangerous atmosphere for one to live in" refers to me. The tone of accustions towards the GC deeply troubles me. Now I know what the women of Salem, MA centuries ago felt.As to my common sense analysis, all of it fits into one short paragraph on this page. But the next line, even though it incorrectly parses my use of the term ``common sense,'' requires comment: ``I suppose we had no common sense when we used multiple data sources from multiple courses?'' If using data sources from high-profile tourist spots like Cape Cod to compare to out-of-the-way backwater like Norfolk is common sense, then I suppose you used it.Next time please get your FACTS straight. Are Brockton, New Bedford, Bridewater, Lexington and Holliston (towns that we used) on the Cape? Last I checked they were not....(Ok, that was a cheap shot. I'm sorry.)Par for the course, pun intended. I'm sorry.But I do have to correct some of the claims stated as ``fact:'' ``[T]here are steps in place to determine the severity [of soil and water contamination left] and acceptability is a fact'' - umm, no, this is not a fact. No consultant has been hired to run independent tests, and without them, the extents and severity can not be measured.Very much agreed and until those studies are done NO ONE knows what is fact. The steps I referred to are IF the project moves forward.The Earth Tech report has such a tiny budget that it will barely reach to reading the existing reports, and we know what they say (well, ok, if one chooses to ignore the PIP group then one has to repeat that work and pay for it, but the rest of us know what the reports say).It would be nice to be so clairevoyant. The scope of the feasibilty study is limited. The purpose is to help determine if there is enough revenue potential to warrant developing a course. Earth Tech will assess what to expect for environmental issues. They are not contracted to solve every environmental issue at this early stage.As to the area needed for an 18-hole course - forget 150 contiguous acres; how large a golf course will fit on 117 total? Championship size? This is another important question that affects the financial projections, which has been quietly ignored. The CSM report ``assumes'' ``permitted availability,'' ie. that special permits will be given to allow some environmentally restricted land to be developed. The BSC report ``assumes'' this will not happen. The BSC group specializes in wetlands assessment, the CSM group in building golf courses. Which one would make a better assumption about wetlands? Two assumptions - place your bets, folks, and let it spin!And you are so certain that only 117 will be available? Why should the Town spend money on consulting and permitting studies when they can ask you? I choose not to make any bets on assumptions if I can help it. I would prefer to see real facts that cannot be disputed. We have not got there yet.``That the buildings and materials left on the property are safe and the purchase of the land is contingent upon that is a fact.'' - See, I again have a problem with that statement. Asbestos siding? Lead paint? ``Safe?'' Sure, as long as we don't have to drill, hammer, scrape, wire, plumb, or demolish. But the real problem is not safety, it is the legal liability for cleaning up contamination as required by law. Town counsel informed the golf committee of this before. We don't know what's in the yard, below the foundation, under the drains (But we do know what's at the bottom of the carbonizer lagoon, and that alone will be a pretty penny to remove). What we don't know will cost real money to find out, more than all the feasibility studies to date combined. Until that's done, saying ``safe'' is dodging the issue, and playing donw a serious concern; not about safety, but about cost. Oops, was that another substantiation, again helping dissipate that oppressive atmosphere?If you have followed the course of action then you would know that the Mann's said they would be responsible for any cleanup of the buildings. Before the Town makes any purchase. If after this activity the buildings or land are not safe then I suspect the land could not be permitted and we stick to our initial position and do not go through with the purchase. But we don't know that yet.``[T]hat the taxpayers of our town would receive full effects of additional revenue from a successful course is a fact'' - umm, again I have to dissent. Technically, the above is true, but technically, all that it says is that the town will get the benefits of any money the town will get. A tautology. By my understanding of how Enterprise Funds work, the golf course can keep as much of the profits as it wishes to reinvest in the course. Anything spent on the course would not benefit the taxpayers, even if we had the nicest and shiniest carts and the lushest and greenest lawn (well, with the exception of the golfers among us taxpayers, of course). I.e., the golf course takes all it wants, and what it can't use is the town's. Unless another Enterprise Fund business is started, which will automatically has first dibs on the money. Now, since I'm not fully up on this aspect of town finances, I can't argue that this is yet another unsubstantiated claim just to sway support; perhaps someone familiar with Enterprise Funds can educate me.You say, "the golf course can keep as much of the profits as it wishes to reinvest in the course." Who do you infer the "golf course" is? Are you aware that the Town and the BOS are to decide how to allocate generated funds back to the town? The GC has no say in how to manage the town's funds.``[I]t is a bad habit to offer irresponsible opinions regarding the integrity of other people.'' - fully in agreement here.
- - Wm.
- Todd Monjar
- 10/25 3:00pm One clarification - the questions asked by the PIP group were not ``legal questions.'' Those would be questions about matters such as CDM's contractual obligations, which are a matter between CDM and the current property owners. The questions asked by the PIP group were technical questions based on the MA laws that govern environmental cleanups of this type. They were well within the scope of the public hearing, and having them answered was the reason that the public hearing was held. Because CDM did not complete the technical work required by MA law, there is a legal liability placed on future property owners to complete the technical work.
- - VR
- 10/25 2:58pm
- To VJ, WM, AJ, DC...ALL
- It appeared at the meeting on Tuesday that all the PIP Questions submitted prior to that night were answered by CDM, the legal questions presented at the end by VJ were deferred by them with good cause. They represent a major firm they will not and should not respond to legal questions without going to their counsel, but they did say they would get back to the town within a month.
- The enterprise fund referred to is run by the town, if the town feels they need the money rather than the golf course down the road it is the towns decision.
- The golf committee with out a doubt has supported, listened and will continue to listen to all issues concerning environmental problems on this site. We appreciate all work done by the PIP group and all other concerned citizens but continue to ask that we keep going in a positive direction. Ideas to these issues maybe hiring a town LSP to review all the work done and having an objective opinion given and/or performing our own 21e. GSC is open to all suggestions but they all cost money to do !!!
- My problem with this site continues that when messages are posted the webmaster takes liberty of posting their comments and changes these comments after people submit their own. The second is the timing of the post (which Andras alluded to) and example is VJ' post was at 3:15 Todd's came in shortly afterwards and didn't get posted until 11:42pm when he submitted it in the afternoon. One suggestion maybe to have this function given to someone objective who works for the town and only post during the day and have cutoff time.
- Well life goes on Yankees keep winning (this may spark a different controversial subject) and believe it or not I have a job to do of managing individuals money not the Town's.
- - JB
- 10/25 2:14am ``In a war of facts vs. faith, the facts don't have a prayer.'' I just made that one up. I've been at these posts for the last four hours, but when it's after 2am and my mind starts to wander like this, it's time for sleep. (``Don't let your mind wander. It's too little to be let out by itself.'' Vijay read that one yesterday, and forwarded it to me :-) Oh well, goodnight, all. - Wm.
- 10/24 10:54pm A couple of administrative matters -
- - First, I wish to apologize for the several hour long gap this afternoon while I was unable to posts the arriving comments. This forum is maintained by hand, and although it may not seem like it sometimes, I do have a day job; sometimes unexpected deadlines do come up. (I am paid hourly, and I do not bill the time that it takes to post messages or reply to emails. So yes, in a sense it costs me real money to offer this forum where we can all be heard.)
- - Second, it was pointed out (by my Mom, as is happens; hi Mom!) that not all browsers can correctly render both Roman and Italic fonts, which might make it difficult to tell which post was contributed (if Italicized) and which is Webmaster comments (plain text). I, the Webmaster, take full responsibility for all unsigned posts, and almost all such are written personally by me. Now that this issue has been pointed out, I promise to be more diligent about attributions.
- - In the future, the only unsigned posts will be from the Webmaster; all posts where attribution is left off intentionally will be indicated with ``N/A'' (not attributed). (Note, however, that anonymously sent posts are not welcome, they make our life too complicated. See the posting guide for a short discussion.)
- - Wm.
- 10/25 1:15am To the chairman of the Golf Committee:
- I thought I made it clear to you last night that I was in no way representing DEP. In your post below, you seem to be implying that I was speaking on behalf of DEP to address Jack's concerns. Let me say to you again and anyone else who is not clear on this, my involvement in last nights meeting and any other discussions regarding environmental issues in town are as a concerned citizen of Norfolk only. I have no more control over DEP decisions regarding environmental issues in this Town than you do. This case is being handled by the Northeast Regional Office, I work in the Southeast Regional Office. Furthermore, it would be a conflict of interest for me to even attempt to use my position at DEP to try and influence the outcome of the golf course or anything else.
- In review of the conversation you referred to between yourself, Jack and me, Jack was concerned that CDM had down played the presence of PCBs on the property among other things. Jack was right to be concerned about any levels of PCBs found on the property. While the levels are very low, it is still important to ask "Where did they come from?" I simply stated to you and Jack that levels found were below the reporting standard for residential soils in Massachusetts. That does not mean the DEP will not require more work to address the PCBs.
- You stated that most of the discussion was like a foreign language to you. With that said, you and the rest of the golf committee should listen closely to the environmental professionals who are speaking up. They aren't doing it for their health. There are important and potentially costly environmental issues on the Buckley and Mann property that must be investigated and resolved. Don't brush their concerns aside as frivolous opposition.
- Finally, a note to Steven McClain: You are correct that CDM appeared to be knowledgeable and believable. I think they did a great job of representing their client. Most of their answers were legally correct and they avoided using negative terms such as "contaminated" to describe the fill material left in the landfilled area. However, last nights PIP meeting was not the proper forum to enter in a technical debate with CDM. I disagreed with several statements made by CDM. However, last night was not about technical details, it was an opportunity for Norfolk residents to learn a little about the work that was done in the assessment and remediation of the 12 acres to which the Response Action Outcome Statement and the Activity and Use Limitation applies. Had we entered into a technical debate about such topics as horizontal and vertical groundwater flow or sampling locations and procedures, the majority of those present would have been lost, confused, and disinterested. Then the PIP group would have lost credibility.
- Dan Crafton
- 10/25 1:13am Tuesday night was not ``the PIP group's opportunity to convince supporters of the Golf Course that there is a significant problem.'' Tuesday night was CDM's opportunity to explain to the town why they feel that the issues identified by the PIP group would not result in legal and financial liabilities for a future owner of the property. By choosing NOT to answer specific questions that had been provided to them in writing 3 weeks in advance, CDM did in fact decline to answer the key questions pertaining to legal responsibility in a public forum that had been set up specifically to address these issues.
- Some background for newcomers: The PIP group was created in order to help the town understand the potential liability associated with buying the Buckley and Mann property in its current condition. To that end, the group used its technical expertise to conduct a thorough and documented analysis of the work that has been done to date, and identified a series of significant legal obligations imposed by the Massachusetts Contingency Plan that had been disregarded by CDM. It should be noted that Town Counsel, after reviewing the CDM reports filed in August 2001, independently arrived at the same conclusion as the PIP group - i.e. that there is highly probable risk that the town will incur further environmental cleanup costs if it were to buy the property.
- Prior to the public hearing, the PIP group presented its findings to the town in various forms:
- (1) In early October 2001, the PIP group submitted a detailed 8-page technical memorandum to CDM and the appropriate town boards in preparation for the public hearing. This document cited the regulatory reference for each of the applicable laws that had not been addressed, described how each of these legal requirements had not been met by CDM's work product, and asked CDM for an explanation of each of the areas in which their work product did not meet legal requirements.
- (2) On October 8, 2001, the PIP group submitted a less technical but still comprehensive 4-page memorandum explaining the issues to the town boards for their review.
- (3) Also in early October, a 2-page Q&A explaining the issues was made available to town residents by the PIP group.
- (4) The issues of concern were made public via press and television interviews and on-line announcements
- (5) The PIP group documents were added to the two public depositories at the library and Town Hall, with the public informed of their location.
- An unbiased follower of these events would have to agree that the PIP group made every effort to inform town residents as well as town official about the issues at both a technical and everyday level. With the detailed list of questions provided to CDM in early October, the group had every reasonable expectation that their documented deficiencies would be specifically addressed by the LSP-of-record at the public hearing. Instead, a careful viewer of the broadcast and reviewer of the PIP public documents will note that CDM bypassed the specific issues raised by the PIP group. Moreover, several of CDM's general statements, as well as their answers to follow-up questions, did not provide a full or accurate representation of their work or of site conditions as described in their report.
- The PIP group was pleased to note that several audience members were following CDM's answers closely enough to recognize the inconsistencies, and to ask pertinent questions regarding their partial answers. It was interesting to see that CDM could not, in fact, define the extent of contamination in the landfill or lagoons; had no documentation regarding the risk posed by PCBs at the site; could not explain why it was OK for them to leave contaminated soil in place without a liner despite DEP regulations to the contrary; could not document that they had analyzed the river and stream for contaminant compounds as required; never even began to talk about the key issue of the legality of the AUL that's been implemented despite exceeding applicable standards in the landfill . . . the list goes on.
- In our ongoing effort to make sure that the status of the site is fully known to those who will be making property-transfer decisions, the PIP group will follow up in writing with CDM on these issues, and will forward any responses we obtain to the Board of Selectmen.
- - PIP group (VR)
- 10/25 1:02am The golf course will never make a dent in Norfolk's financial problems, even if it is the most successful municipal golf course ever. How many of these things do we consider important to our lives here: spacious new houses and smooth paved roads, multiple children and pets, a new school for every generation, grand public buildings, green lawns and water on demand, big stores to stock our closets with inexpensive goods..? We believe that we've worked hard and we deserve whatever our money can buy. But we can't have everything -in fact, we'll never have everything we want. Our town is cracking under the weight of our collective desire for more. Yes, if a business like the golf course were successful, it might make Norfolk's tax bills a little lower. But the only long-term solution will come when we decide - personally and collectively - which things are worth spending our lives working for and which things are just gravy. One revenue generator is not going to feed everyone's desires. One of these days, we may just have to talk about that old-fashioned idea of making do with less. And when that time comes, I hope there are some old wise folks left to show us how it's done.
- - HPK
- 10/25 12:58am True, it was a majority vote (265/105 or 72%). But it was also a very close majority, close as in 18 votes. Not a very comfortable margin given that only 370 voters out of 5,726 voters (or 6.5%) turned out for the town meeting. Didn't we recently have an election that taught us that every vote counts :-)
- - SF
- 10/25 12:58am In response to V. Radics and Wm -
- The purpose of my post was to draw attention to misrepresentation and you did it again! The representative from CDM did not "decline to answer the question in public". They stated that the answers would be in their written response which is their legal responsibility. That will show up in the televised broadcast.
- My comment about keeping the information in the public forum had to do with the PIP groups opportunity to convince supporters of the Golf Course that there is a significant problem. They failed to do this. If the PIP group wanted this meeting there should have been some attempt to have at least some control of content. This can not be done by putting up a slide and staying silent.
- For the record... I am not a proponent or opponent of the Golf Course. But I am forming an opinion on which side is more believable. Credibility is important!!!!
- - SM
[(``Now, there you go again'' - Ronald Reagan.) Providing a written answer, instead of in person, and at a later time, not at the meeting at which the question was asked, IS ``declining to answer the question in public.'' Giving a public answer (ie, disclosed but written) is not the same as giving an answer in public (ie, subject to feedback and follow-ups). - Wm.]
- 10/25 12:48am
The Spring 2001 Town Meeting did not vote $10 million plus dollars to do a study. It voted for land purchase and construction money. What it gets after the fact is a feasability study, paid for by monies voted at an earlier meeting. Can you see where perhaps the chronology is a disordered here? Am I misrepresenting, exaggerating, or lying yet?
- As to the voters at the Town Meeting, the GSC did a very good political job of getting out the vote. "Golf Course or Bust" could have been their motto. Minds were made up beforehand. Was there credibility for any Stone Thrower to lose? Did you see the tide of yea votes flood into the hall just before the vote? Aren't cell phones wonderful? Can someone misrepresent, exaggerate, or lie if there is no one to hear them do so?
- And how about those facts at the Town Meeting? Two pages of numbers that support what? Seems like nothing. Did the Selectmen not order up a feasability study? We await it with interest. Apparently, the facts weren't good enough as presented at Town Meeting for the Board of Selectment to move forward, but I infer.
- And thanks for providing another label. That helps. I know who to join.
- - One more Stone Thrower (RG)
- 10/25 12:44am Re: post by Todd Monjar on deceitful wrongdoing -
- I'm sorry you perceive my objections as ``accusations of lying and false deeds.'' I was trying to point out actions and statements that I found repeatedly incorrect, and unwilling to be corrected. Insisting that there is no contamination on the site after having been informed by town counsel, in writing, that the opposite is true is not very forthcoming. I don't know why the continued insistence, but one may consider this ``factual evidence of dishonesty or deceit.'' And with that substantiation, I suppose that should now dissipate the ``highly dangerous atmosphere for one to live in. And one highly distasteful.'' I agree about the distasteful, though I ought to make certain and ask, dangerous to whom? One in general, or to me in particular? Why, if I didn't know that we live in such a peaceful little town, filled with kind warm-hearted people, I would think that was a threat.
- As to my common sense analysis, all of it fits into one short paragraph on this page. But the next line, even though it incorrectly parses my use of the term ``common sense,'' requires comment: ``I suppose we had no common sense when we used multiple data sources from multiple courses?'' If using data sources from high-profile tourist spots like Cape Cod to compare to out-of-the-way backwater like Norfolk is common sense, then I suppose you used it. (Ok, that was a cheap shot. I'm sorry.)
But I do have to correct some of the claims stated as ``fact:''
- ``[T]here are steps in place to determine the severity [of soil and water contamination left] and acceptability is a fact'' - umm, no, this is not a fact. No consultant has been hired to run independent tests, and without them, the extents and severity can not be measured. The Earth Tech report has such a tiny budget that it will barely reach to reading the existing reports, and we know what they say (well, ok, if one chooses to ignore the PIP group then one has to repeat that work and pay for it, but the rest of us know what the reports say).
- As to the area needed for an 18-hole course - forget 150 contiguous acres; how large a golf course will fit on 117 total? Championship size? This is another important question that affects the financial projections, which has been quietly ignored. The CSM report ``assumes'' ``permitted availability,'' ie. that special permits will be given to allow some environmentally restricted land to be developed. The BSC report ``assumes'' this will not happen. The BSC group specializes in wetlands assessment, the CSM group in building golf courses. Which one would make a better assumption about wetlands? Two assumptions - place your bets, folks, and let it spin!
- ``That the buildings and materials left on the property are safe and the purchase of the land is contingent upon that is a fact.'' - See, I again have a problem with that statement. Asbestos siding? Lead paint? ``Safe?'' Sure, as long as we don't have to drill, hammer, scrape, wire, plumb, or demolish. But the real problem is not safety, it is the legal liability for cleaning up contamination as required by law. Town counsel informed the golf committee of this before. We don't know what's in the yard, below the foundation, under the drains (But we do know what's at the bottom of the carbonizer lagoon, and that alone will be a pretty penny to remove). What we don't know will cost real money to find out, more than all the feasibility studies to date combined. Until that's done, saying ``safe'' is dodging the issue, and playing donw a serious concern; not about safety, but about cost. Oops, was that another substantiation, again helping dissipate that oppressive atmosphere?
- ``[T]hat the taxpayers of our town would receive full effects of additional revenue from a successful course is a fact'' - umm, again I have to dissent. Technically, the above is true, but technically, all that it says is that the town will get the benefits of any money the town will get. A tautology. By my understanding of how Enterprise Funds work, the golf course can keep as much of the profits as it wishes to reinvest in the course. Anything spent on the course would not benefit the taxpayers, even if we had the nicest and shiniest carts and the lushest and greenest lawn (well, with the exception of the golfers among us taxpayers, of course). I.e., the golf course takes all it wants, and what it can't use is the town's. Unless another Enterprise Fund business is started, which will automatically has first dibs on the money. Now, since I'm not fully up on this aspect of town finances, I can't argue that this is yet another unsubstantiated claim just to sway support; perhaps someone familiar with Enterprise Funds can educate me.
- ``[I]t is a bad habit to offer irresponsible opinions regarding the integrity of other people.'' - fully in agreement here.
- - Wm.
- 10/24 11:10pm I've been questioned by people close to me why my tone has been so uncharacteristically blunt on this golf topic, and VJ thought that the questions and my replies may help explain some. Below are included, with permission, some back-and-forth emails about it.
The post by Paul Guertin that started the e-mails:10/23 2:59pm To Wm and others: I find it rather unfortunate in this debate over the golf course that because public money is at stake some folks seem to more than willing, and even anxious, to smear the motives and integrity of those who would spend it. I totally agree that there are some serious questions about the suitability of the property in question, but as far as I can tell no one is manufacturing data but rather seeing it in a way that bolsters their concerns. This goes for both sides. To suggest that someone is "criminal" by purposely misleading the town, in my mind, goes way beyond a civil presentation of one's case. It always makes me suspicious when one side decides that it all right to demonize the other side.
- - Paul Guertin
My reply:Hi Paul,
I'm sorry that things had to get this heated for these concerns to be come to fore, but it's been really hard getting responses. It was incredibly frustrating to be repeatedly ignored or not understood.
Public money is a part of it, but integrity and obligations are the core. This is more than just a difference in opinions, it goes to the heart of what is proper procedure to follow in large municipal undertakings.
The golf committee is a town agency, and they are entrusted with representing our interests in this matter. A golf course is a business venture, and a municipal golf course makes us all venture capitalists. This is not a little pet project to amuse and entertain the committee members. We have to be careful, since like in any risky business undertaking, we could all lose our shirts on it.
If the committee ``bolsters their case,'' then they are not doing their job. They are responsible for considering all issues fairly, both for and against, and addressing them. They can not pick and choose.
I believe they have every good intention, but when having such a large responsibility, it is not sufficient merely to have good intentions. Real care must be taken, concerns must be addressed, and questions must be answered, lest things go wrong.
A few hours after this e-mail, Vijay suggested that I consider posting the above reply, because she thought it does a good job of explaining my motives; I sent a second e-mail to Paul to ask his permission.
Paul's reply back:Andras-The implication in all that you say is that the Golf Study Committee is purposely withholding negative information from the public for some reason not directly stated by you. I can only assume from the tone and content of your comments that for the Golf Committee to rely on the Camp Dresser McKey report represents irresponsible and perhaps criminal negligence of their mandate as a town committee. It seems non-sensical to me for the Golf Committee to take your position, that the CDM report is not worth the paper it is written on. CDM is a respected, established firm that does this work everyday. The PIP meeting should have alleviated some of the PIP's group stated fears that "there has not been any work done on the site." It seemed to me that their report demonstrated that there has been quite a lot of work done at the site. You mentioned to me before the the PIP meeting that you expected the report that CDM was about to give would expose them with their pants down, showing them to be in violation of several laws and practicing shoddy methods. I did not come away from that meeting with that opinion. I believe that the bottom line is that if that land is unsuitable for us to purchase, it will become known without having to ruin anyone's reputation. If in out attempts to do the right thing, the opposition claims criminal conduct, my guess is that there will be fewer and fewer attempts to do the right thing out of fear of one's integrity being called into question.
I have no problem with you posting our back and forth comments and I would expect you to respond to this one as well.But my comments of yesterday and today should be included. With high regards, Paul
And again from me to Paul:> From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Oct 24 13:38:59 2001
> Andras-The implication in all that you say is that the Golf Study Committee
> is purposely withholding negative information from the public for some reason
Yes, this has been my strong impression, and I wanted to voice it. If they ignore a serious concern, one that is critical to the success of their project, the first time could be an honest oversight. Once it is pointed out and they still ignore it, it's negligence. When it's pointed out a second time and it's ignored, one begins to wonder why they are hushing it up - at this point they can't say they don't know.
This has happened, and this is no way for a committee to conduct official town business. I don't know what actual they may have had for it, but it is not right.
> not directly stated by you. I can only assume from the tone and content of your
> comments that for the Golf Committee to rely on the Camp Dresser McKey report
> represents irresponsible and perhaps criminal negligence of their mandate as a
Of course it does -- using the CDM report to gloss over serious doubts raised by another report is not acceptable. The CDM report and the work they've done covers a tiny fraction of the issues related to the site. The CDM report also points out a large number of issues about the site that have not yet been addressed, and additional work that will have to be done. To rely solely on a positive interpretation of it and ignore other issues is irresponsible. Their mandate as a town committee also includes being prudent and responsive to concerns.
> town committee. It seems non-sensical to me for the Golf Committee to take your
> position, that the CDM report is not worth the paper it is written on. CDM isa
> respected, established firm that does this work everyday. The PIP meeting should
CDM may be a well-respected engineering firm, but the work they did on the Buckley/MAnn property (as documented in the report they filed with the DEP) is incomplete, and will obligate the property owners to more work. Their report effectively documents that contamination exists at the site, that the worst of it was removed, but the amounts left at the site still exceed the legal limits. Now, you tell me what that says about their work. Vijay has over 10 years of experience in the environmental field (doing exactly this type of remediation), and I've picked up enough from her so even I, a non-expert, can clearly see that the work done is not up to state requirements. The details are highly technical, but Vijay did a good job of citing state law by chapter and paragraph to show which sections are being violated, and her review is up on Norfolknet for anyone to critique. She does excellent work, even as a volunteer, and you won't find fault with her technical conclusions.
The real point, though, is not about the quality -- it is that the CDM work is not sufficient to protect the town if were we to buy the property, because much more assessment and remediation remains to be done.
> have alleviated some of the PIP's group stated fears that "there has not
> been any work done on the site." It seemed to me that their report
> demonstrated that there has been quite a lot of work done at the site. You
It was never a question of how much work, but whether the work is adequate. Sure work was done at the site, but a lot of work was also not done which is required of the owners, which will be noticed during the audit. And if the owner is the town, the town will have to pay.
> mentioned to me before the the PIP meeting that you expected the report that CDM
> was about to give would expose them with their pants down, showing them to be in
> violation of several laws and practicing shoddy methods. I did not come away
> from that meeting with that opinion. I believe that the bottom line is
The consultant carefully dodged the real issues during his presentation. Jack caught on, that's why he was getting upset, and that's why he was pressing on several issues (like the PCB's, which were claimed both to be present and not present). Dangle also several times alluded to the "Method 3 Risk Assessment" which he did not perform, but he carefully omitted the fact that the state requires a Method 3 to file a valid RAO under conditions that exist at this site. Without it, he might as well not have bothered. And when Vijay's slide went up that pointed to his pants around his ankles, he did not answer, did did not even read it, but shut off the overhead projector as quickly as he could.
They are in violation of several laws. You can show the PIP review to qualified experts and ask their opinion -- none will argue. Vijay has shown it to four, and they all agreed with her conclusions. But it's specialized, technical law, and it's very difficult to explain to non-experts. But it's still the law.
> that if that land is unsuitable for us to purchase, it will become known without
> having to ruin anyone's reputation. If in our attempts to do the right thing,
I agree with you. I wasn't trying to ruin anyone's reputation, but I was angry at being ignored and brushed off. Unfortunately, it took direct, straight language for people to finally sit up and notice. I regret it having come to this point, but I feel it was important to get a dialogue going.
> the opposition claims criminal conduct, my guess is that there will be
> fewer and fewer attempts to do the right thing out of fear of one's
> integrity being called into question.
This sounds like shades of an argument I read about the recall petitions a long time ago :-) Ultimately, I believe people volunteer because they wish to contribute, and put up with the public exposure as part of the job. Integrity is demonstrated by actions and by explanations. I believe the best way to avoid being mistrusted is by being open, forthright, responsive, and honest.
> I have no problem with you posting our back and forth comments and I would
> expect you to respond to this one as well.But my comments of yesterday and today
> should be included. With high regards, Paul
Thank you, Paul, I really do appreciate you taking the time to write me in this much detail.
- 10/24 12:25pm To MR: We have chosen not to engage with any private concern regarding the golf course. The reason is that we want to maximize the benefits to the town. A private concern would drastically reduce potential revenue to the town. All that we would get would be taxes, not the pure revenue stream. Even though that is being debated (disclaimer)!
- Todd Monjar - Golf Committee member
[Taxes would be good. No housing, little money, zero risk - what's wrong with that? See also my comments about Enterprise Funds at the bottom of the previous post - Wm.]
- 10/24 11:42pm TO: VR, WM and whomever else has posted or felt compelled to accuse members of the Golf Committee of deceitful wrongdoing: Shame on you....
The GC has been active and working with the idea of potentially making the Town better by building a municipal golf course for almost two years. We have not been able to draw on much empirical golf course development experience and have sought out that expertise in the best way we knew how. We have worked under the Town's direction and various committees to ensure that we were addressing all the important issues and gathering all of the relevant information that is necessary to make the best decisions we could. We are not outsiders looking to cash in on an opportunity, rather concerned citizens who are directly affected by the outcome. One way or the other. What benefit is it to us to drive something through that is detrimental to the Town and to our own well-being? It's not just "other people's money".
Our intentions have always been sincere and the thread of the dialogue (here and in emails) paints a portrait of conspiracy and misdeeds. It is so disheartening to hear this from our fellow citizens that we live with and are trying to make a better place for. We acknowledge that as a Town committee we are held in the public view and as a result accept that we are open to criticism of our performance and process. We have been faced with opposition and attack for our idea yet we have refused to make it a personal issue and have kept to the task at hand. Further than disheartening it angers me greatly to know the level of effort and honesty that we have put forth, and then to be accused of lying and false deeds. One person wrote of fact and opinion and I will challenge anyone to produce any factual evidence of our dishonesty or deceit. To make such unsubstantiated statements creates a dangerous atmosphere for one to live in. And one highly distasteful.
We have always held open meetings and invite anyone who wishes to contribute to the process to attend. It sure would have been nice to have all this effort put forth during the process rather than after we were approved to move ahead.
Having said that let me attempt to respond to some of the material posted previously. This is how it was. We had an idea, gathered as much information as we could, presented it to the BOS, and proceeded to take action to provide further information based on advice from those that are in the know and that we respected for their experience. We informed the town of our progress as best we could with the resources at hand. We presented to the Town Meeting and it was approved, understanding that at any time the BOS could cease the project if they deemed it to be harmful to Norfolk. We acknowledge there are outstanding issues to be resolved before moving further and support the BOS' decision to cease if they are not resolved. The sellers of the land and the Town agreed that any purchase is contingent on the land being fully permitted and clear of liabilities due to the state of the land at purchase. There are issues the town can take action on to protect itself that we are willing to address if necessary. We believe that all cautionary steps are being taken towards that.
We spent a lot of time researching the demographic feasibility of a course in town which leads to the revenue projections. WM cites his "common sense analysis" that leads to a $6.6M shortfall. I would be interested to see what detailed assumptions, factors and contingencies he/she used for ONE course. I suppose we had no common sense when we used multiple data sources from multiple courses? We have communicated many times how we determined our projections and acknowledge that there needs to be further, substantiated information produced on the feasibility. A third party, outside consultant has been hired to do this per the direction of the BOS and if the results do not come up favorable then again we support a decision to not move forward. That has been stated publicly.
From WM:There is a reasonably clear difference between opinion and fact. Since there seems to be some confusion on this issue, however, let's review: That the golf course is a good idea is an opinion.Agreed, that the golf course is a bad idea is an opinion.That there is soil and water contamination left in place on the Buckley/Mann property is a fact.Agreed, and that there are steps in place to determine the severity and acceptability is a fact.That the course will receive all the necessary permits and waivers is an opinion.Agreed, see above.That almost half of the total proposed course area is restricted wetlands is a fact.Based on the BCS report you summarize, BCS "assumes" (not a fact) that 150 contiguous acres are required for an 18 hole course. A professional architect familiar with Wetlands protection stated an 18-hole course could be built, depending on permitted availability. See next comment.
- Taken from the BSC report: If the Norfolk Golf Committee is interested in pursuing this project, the first step is to obtain an exact assessment of the extent of the Wetland Resource Areas on the parcel. An accurate and efficient way to accomplish this is delineating these areas in the field. The information thus gathered will allow the generation of a survey grade plan of the Wetland Resource Area. The Norfolk Golf Committee could then incorporate this plan into a conceptual layout that included the proposed golf course. These steps have not been taken yet until further review of the feasibility and also of permitting takes place. If the Wetlands Resource Area assessment delineates favorable to a course layout then the next steps can be taken to move forward.That players will flock out in droves to pay high prices is an opinion.Agreed, and I would be curious to know how to qualify "flocking out in droves". We have never used this term to identify potential revenue from rounds played. Please see above regarding awaited results from 3rd party feasibility study.That two, perhaps three towns draw their drinking water from the same area the course would be dumping lawn chemicals and pesticides on is a fact.That courses can be and are architected to protect nearby ground water from said chemicals, more so than the chemicals and pesticides that the abutters of the land put on their own lawns, is a fact. Case in point, Widows Walk Golf Course in Scituate has a Town well in the middle of the course.That the golf course will make money is an opinion.Agreed, that the golf course will not make money is an opinion.That the taxpayers of our town would be financially obligated to pay off the loan is a fact.Agreed, and that the taxpayers of our town would receive full effects of additional revenue from a successful course is a fact.That the industrial buildings, materials, and unlicensed dumps left on the property are safe is an opinion.Agreed, see above permitting and liability issues. That the buildings and materials left on the property are safe and the purchase of the land is contingent upon that is a fact.That the property title holder is responsible for cleaning up industrial contamination to applicable standards, regardless of the cost, is a fact.Agreed, see above and current title holder is Mann.Opinion and fact are not interchangeable. It's a bad habit to treat them as such. - Wm.Agreed, and it is a bad habit to offer irresponsible opinions regarding the integrity of other people.
- - Todd Monjar, Golf Committee member
- 10/24 3:13pm SM wrote:
> If an argument can't be made in a public forum why
> should we believe what is written here.
- As it happens, we're in concurrence on this matter, except that we differ in our opinion as to who failed to make their case in a public forum. The televised broadcast of last night's meeting will show that CDM, when asked specifically about the legal obligations that their RAO failed to meet, turned off the PIP group's slide and declined to answer the question in public.
- The PIP group is confident that we've made our case, in writing and with the appropriate regulatory citations, in sufficient detail for an objective review by town counsel and/or an independent consultant working on behalf of the Town. Furthermore, we're confident that a review by experts qualified to render an opinion on this subject will support our analysis. In the interim, we will continue to explain the issues in non-technical terms for those town residents seeking to understand the potential liabilities associated with purchase of this property.
- - V. Radics
- 10/24 2:24pm A question that I have been thinking about while reading the golf course discussion is this: Has any private company expressed interest in purchasing this land and building a golf course? The problem with government funded projects is that they have low accountability. For a private company to work like this would be financial disaster. Maybe we should invite a few private companies to review this to see if they would take on this project. If not, we know we have a problem.
- - MR
- 10/24 2:00pm There is a great deal of bolstering ones argument on the side of the "Stone Throwers" (the opposition). I found the presentation by the Golf Committee at Town Meeting to be an honest attempt. They never said they had all the answers, they wanted funds to hire a consultant who could give an independent, non biased opinion. As a member of the Norfolk Planning Board I hear presentations given in a public forum every week. After attending hundreds of public hearings over the years it becomes somewhat easier to determine who is misrepresenting data. The "Stone Throwers" lost all credibility with a super majority of attendees of the 2001 Spring Town Meeting by deliberately misrepresenting, exaggerating and outright lying about facts.
- At the PIP hearing on Tuesday 10-23-01 by CDM I found the consultant to be believable and knowledgeable. There were inconsistencies in some of the answers but these can be addressed easily within a 20 day period for follow-up questions. The PIP group claimed to have three members who were "environmental experts". Not one of them countered any statements by CDM. If an argument can't be made in a public forum why should we believe what is written here.
- "Stone Throwers" is a term inadvertently given to themselves by the opposition of the Golf Course at Town Meeting and how many townspeople refer to them.
- I have a request of the Webmaster. Please identify yourself as the Webmaster when writing extensive opinions.
- - Steven G. McClain, Norfolk Planning Board
[It should be pretty clear which posts are by the Webmaster, since they're the only ones that are unsigned in Roman (as opposed to Italicized) font.
- As to the credibility of the ``Stone Throwers,'' it must be a lucky thing that the criticism raised about the CDM report is unassailable on its own merits - the facts speak for themselves.
- But if you were at the PIP meeting last night, you must be aware that CDM never responded directly to the PIP group's concerns. He had a written copy of the PIP group critique for weeks now, he should have had plenty of time to come and present a ``consistent'' story. Why would another 20 days make a difference?
- And sure the consultant was believable and knowledgeable, he could choose which topics to discuss. But when confronted with the slide listing section and paragraph of the laws that he ignored in his work, he couldn't yank it off the projector fast enough. - Wm.]
[Update: I've had it pointed out that not all browsers render both Roman and Italic fonts as expected (oops, thanks, Mom! :-), and in that case I apologize for the confusion my practice may create. I will try to be more explicit in the future - Wm.]
- 10/24 1:26pm To VJ Radics (Alias VJ or WM-webmaster)
- I find it difficult communicating with this Website knowing that you edit things as you wish (i.e. adding my name or posting things when convenient for you) but I give you and Andras credit for doing this for the Town. I have been advised by several people to contain myself which I have and will do, but your comment on "the Comm. has no idea whether it is correct with its numbers and maybe be fudged is un called for, we have presented the numbers based on 12 areas golf courses that is fact. We have given it to your group several months ago. The two studies we referred to on a financial end are John Lapointe and Cornish Silva and Mungeam, BSC was not aware of the layout of the course and after they were comfortable with our layout. Once again NGF will be the deciding factor on the numbers and they have in fact contracted a firm called EarthTech and will give cost estimates associated with permitting, environmental, infrastructure, water and /or other issues that may be associated with the developing the property. At a minimum prior to taking ownership of this land the town will do a 21e on the property, the discussions last nite primarily focused on the 12 acres which we have no intention of building on the 21e will give the town a feel for the remaining 130 acres (in addition to the 130 we have the other properties total 90 acres). The PIP work (VJ Radics, Andy Bakinowski-Chairman Conservation and Dan Crafton-DEP employee) appeared to be well done and all issues that were previously addressed to CDM were answered properly. Most of the discussion last nite appeared to be in a foreign language to me but there was one point on the MW(?) level which one of our selectmen took exception to as to high, but after the meeting Dan, Jack and myself spoke and Dan mentioned the DEP views this as acceptable. Our next GSC meeting is Thursday November 1 at 8 Town Hall. I hope this gets posted as is and we can work together in a positive way on this project.
- - JB
[A couple of corrections - Vijay (aka VJ) is a member of the PIP group, Andras is the Webmaster (aka Wm.)
- We do not ``edit things as we wish,'' we try hard to stay with the original text. I added your name because you signed your post in your official capacity as the Chairman of the Golf Study Committee, and I thought it would be handy for the readers to see the name along with the title. It is public information, after all, they can look it up - and I removed it as soon as you indicated that my presumption was incorrect. In general, one should indicate ahead of time when a message should receive special handling (such as no attribution), and we try to accomodate.
- Of course we post things when convenient to us, we maintain this site by hand, and we also have other things we have to do during the day! We try to check at least two or three times a day for new messages, often even more frequently.
- The ``PIP work'' (the technical review of the RAO) is the product solely of Vijay; Andy and Dan (as well as other LSPs) merely read and commented on her completed work, and did not contribute or influence it. I was next to her on my computer as she was first researching then writing it, so I should know.
- Dan Crafton, a manager for the DEP, was not speaking in an official capacity to Jack. What may be acceptable to him may not be acceptable to the DEP agent that audits the Buckley/Mann property; if it does not meet the law, we are subject to being compelled to do it right.
- - Wm.]
- 10/23 11:56pm For those who were unable to attend Tuesday's public hearing re: contamination at the Buckley and Mann site, this document titled "PIP Issues in Plain English" explains the PIP group's concerns regarding the work done at the site. The technical and legal requirements pertaining to the site are described in a detailed memorandum to CDM dated October 4, 2001, which can be found here.
- To SF - the CDM report is not on-line, but it is available at the library and the Conservation Commission, as are the review documents prepared by the PIP group.
- - VR
[Update: the slide that was quickly removed by the CDM consultant, which listed the legal shortcomings of his report by reference to state law section and paragraph, is available on-line here - Wm.]
- 10/23 4:21pm I must be reading the wrong report! The BSC Group conclusions don't sound favorable. How will the project look financially with a 9 hole course? Are we going to change our zoning bylaws for our own benefit?
- Regarding the CDM report. Is this report available on-line? Why were only 12 acres inspected? Will the rest of the property be inspected and certified so as to guarantee no cleanup cost to the town down the road?
- To Joe, I do remember that Mr. McFeeley asked 'the Town to get behind the idea'. He also said that the town can stop the project at anytime before the project goes out of control. And on 7/5 he stated "Be careful of those who point the finger at you and say your wrong, without them being asked to prove that they're right.". Well it sounds like the many of the towns citizens and taxpayers have done as requested.
- - SF
- 10/23 4:01pm I will take the quote directly from [the GSC chairman's] post:"Enough with the numbers we have hired a consultant to give an objective comment on the financials (factoring in environmental issues cost). Environmental issues will be addressed at the PIP meeting tonight, the 12 acres in question have had work completed and submitted to the DEP by CDM (a leading LSP in Mass.) on behalf of the Mann's."Not all environmental issues will be addressed at the PIP meeting tonight. The PIP meeting is specifically for the contamination issues related to the Buckley and Mann property. The PIP meeting will not address the environmental permitting related to wetlands issues or water supply. Generalized statements made as above makes one believe that this meeting is all encompassing and that is not the case.
- - AB
- 10/23 3:26pm To Paul: I must disagree: To provide misleading information to the town when there is clear documentation to the contrary, especially when one is in a position to influence a critical financial decision, is more than "bolstering one's concerns". There has been a repeated pattern, visible to concerned residents, of disregarding or disallowing unfavorable data regarding the Golf Course, and this land purchase in particular. Instead of considered analysis and discourse on this very complex matter, one opinion has been repeated often, with no backup and with the implied support of town government. Any questioners, regardless of their expertise and background, have been relegated to the role of opponents, suggesting that there is no place in Norfolk for those who might want to have ALL the information publicly available before any financial commitments are made. It's time for the town to understand the difference between wishful thinking and reality, and to make an informed decision.
- - VR
- PS - Did you, in fact, read the consultants' documents linked on-line? If not, do so - they're not very technical, and their conclusions are very straightforward. It's a worthy exercise for anyone before they jump on the "he said, she said" bandwagon.
- 10/23 2:59pm To Wm and others: I find it rather unfortunate in this debate over the golf course that because public money is at stake some folks seem to more than willing, and even anxious, to smear the motives and integrity of those who would spend it. I totally agree that there are some serious questions about the suitability of the property in question, but as far as I can tell no one is manufacturing data but rather seeing it in a way that bolsters their concerns. This goes for both sides. To suggest that someone is "criminal" by purposely misleading the town, in my mind, goes way beyond a civil presentation of one's case. It always makes me suspicious when one side decides that it all right to demonize the other side.
- - Paul Guertin
[If I went too far in using the word ``criminal,'' I apologize - Wm.]
- 10/23 1:41pm In rebuttal to the ``more of same'' from the GC chairman:
- Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. But it should take more than just an opinion to get the town to spend 10 million dollars. If not, I have dibs on the next pork-barrel project! :-)
- But I have serious issues with what you say. I have heard so much complete bogus on this subject, I'm about to scream. Having an opinion is one thing, but presenting inaccurate, misleading, or outright false statements as fact is another. If the town spends $10 million based on them, then it's irresponsible, if not criminal.
- 1. I read the two consultant's reports. One of them did no financial analysis whatsoever, does not ``support the golf course financially'', but evaluated only the wetlands issues. They pretty clearly say, ``The three upland areas within the parcel are non-contiguous and therefore, [ . . . ] are not sufficient to accommodate a course of this [18 hole] magnitude''. I do not consider this ``support.''
- 2. The Selectmen did indeed ask the town to get behind the golf course. That was before the town fully understood the implications of many of these issues. One can only presume that the selectmen were also unaware. But that was then; we can no longer profess ignorance. These are serious issues, and they will not simply go away, they have to be addressed. It's a lot of money you're talking about - other people's money.
- 3. The NGF is not looking at the environmental contamination issues. This has been explained on multiple occasions. Why are you still insisting that they are? An environmental assessment is not within the workscope of the NGF study, and is nowhere near within their budget to do it. Hopefully they will address some of the wetlands and drinking water issues, but that still leaves the contamination to the title holder.
- 4. Your ``very conservative numbers'' are completely unsubstantiated. I could not find any compelling argument to convince anyone why the revenues you predict will be so much higher than the other courses in our area. I used a much simpler, but much less questionable approach - I estimated income based on another course. The golf committee revenue approximation is so convoluted, I suspect even the committee has no idea whether is is correct.
- There are two fundamental problems with the revenue assumptions developed by the golf committee. One is that some numbers seem to be fudged to make the bottom line come out to where they wanted it, and related is that some of the presumed fees they expect to be able to charge only make sense in the same light. The other is that if anything unplanned were to occur, the numbers would no longer add up. It's a precariously perched set of assumptions, one that does not inspire confidence.
- 5. The PIP group has presented written, detailed technical proof that the work CDM did (and submitted to the DEP) is not worth the paper it is written on. In addition, you personally received a letter from town counsel two months ago in which he cautioned you about same, and yet you are still in denial. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away.
- 6. And yes, the deed restriction would permit active recreation, but the CDM report specifically states that the land is not clean even to industrial S-2 (let alone residential S-1) health standards. It's easy to file a document with the state, but a piece of paper will not remove toxic compounds from our soil or our water. And the irony is that the filed papers specifically mention that hazardous materials were found and were left.
- There is a reasonably clear difference between opinion and fact. Since there seems to be some confusion on this issue, however, let's review: That the golf course is a good idea is an opinion. That there is soil and water contamination left in place on the Buckley/Mann property is a fact. That the course will receive all the necessary permits and waivers is an opinion. That almost half of the total proposed course area is restricted wetlands is a fact. That players will flock out in droves to pay high prices is an opinion. That two, perhaps three towns draw their drinking water from the same area the course would be dumping lawn chemicals and pesticides on is a fact. That the golf course will make money is an opinion. That the taxpayers of our town would be financially obligated to pay off the loan is a fact. That the industrial buildings, materials, and unlicensed dumps left on the property are safe is an opinion. That the property title holder is responsible for cleaning up industrial contamination to applicable standards, regardless of the cost, is a fact.
- Opinion and fact are not interchangeable. It's a bad habit to treat them as such. - Wm.
[By the way, if you can attend, do consider going to the PIP meeting tonight (at 7pm in the Freeman-Centennial auditorium). The meeting will not address all the relevant environmental questions, since this is only an opportunity for the community to ask questions of CDM (the consultants who performed the partial cleanup work of the 12 acres), but it should be interesting to learn why they thought that looking at only 12 out of 140 were enough, why they did not deal with the other contaminated areas they located on the premises, and how leaving contamination in place will satisfy state law. - Wm.]
- 10/23 11:57am Response to the Wm. from Golf Course Chairman,
- Everyone is entitled to their opinion and clearly people in this town have strong opinions one way or the other. We are looking at this as an opportunity for this town to preserve land and make money!!!
- Several months ago the selectmen asked the Town to get behind the idea after the town supported this based on the two thirds vote at the Town meeting. The consultants we had both supported the golf course financially and in fact presented an 18 hole course at the town meeting. Everyone can present their numbers anyway they want, we believe our numbers are very conservative and at our most recent meeting we found that the numbers we used for construction, permitting and design was about $1 million more than the average of two local golf courses recently completed. Enough with the numbers we have hired a consultant to give an objective comment on the financials (factoring in environmental issues cost). Environmental issues will be addressed at the PIP meeting tonight, the 12 acres in question have had work completed and submitted to the DEP by CDM (a leading LSP in Mass.) on behalf of the Mann's. One comment worth noting in the report "Passive and Active recreation can be done over this land." This parcel of land was not used in our initial 18 holes designed, but it appears it could be.
- - Chairman, Golf Study Committee
- 10/21 11:49pm Remember the curious case of the municipal golf course? Now that I've had a little time to read the documents posted by the golf committee, I've collected my observations of the major issues regarding the project in this summary. For those who don't read summaries, here's an abstract of the summary:
As I said, this is the abridged version; I elaborate in more detail in the summary.
- Although the third feasibility study is currently under way, the two previous studies have already either definitely or effectively said No to the idea. They see a serious obstacle in the environmental restrictions.
- The proposed golf course would operate in and draw water from a Zone II wellhead protection zone for the towns of Franklin, Wrentham, and Norfolk. The DEP considers golf courses a threat to municipal drinking water sources, and the special permits required may be hard to obtain.
- The contamination cleanup costs of the Buckley/Mann property are a wildcard that have not been budgeted for by anyone. The contamination is certain, but its extents and magnitude never studied, so the dollar cost of the cleanup is unknown.
- Lacking any hard financial estimates, I did a little common-sense analysis of how much money a golf course could generate. Using raw data supplied by the golf committee, I come up with a loss of 6.6 million over the next 20 years that would have to be shouldered by the taxpayers.
- But I don't expect the golf course proponents to give up easily. Their championship course is not possible, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a scaled-down proposal for a 9-hole course. After all, if it made sense then, it sure makes sense now.
[Update: we are informed that the $10.7 million appropriations bill, HB 4423, was passed to be Engrossed by the House today - Wm.]
- 10/15 12:09pm In an effort to keep the flow of information flowing regarding the golf course situation and its progress, there is an interview with Golf Committee Chair Joe Byrne and member Jim Tomaszewski conducted by NCTV that may be of help to those who are following this issue. Many question about contamination at the Buckley and Mann site and the PIP group were addressed. Starting Monday, October 22, a similar interview with the PIP group will be aired. The Golf Committee interview is being aired at 10:30am, 4pm, and 10:30pm every day this week.
- Paul Guertin Station Manager, NCTV
[The full NCTV schedule is made available by Paul on this page - Wm.]
- 10/15 10:27am The PIP group for Buckley and Mann is a group of town residents who have requested that the public be kept informed about contamination and cleanup efforts at the site. The group was formed based on the MA Department of Environmental Protection's Public Involvement Plan (PIP) regulations, hence the term PIP group. In response to the PIP group's efforts, documents regarding the contamination at the site have been placed at the town library for public review. Also, a public hearing and question-and-answer session with the current owner's consultants regarding the contamination issues will be held next Tuesday 10/23 at 7 pm at the F-C school auditorium.
- Additional information about the PIP issues is available in an on-line Q&A here.
- - VR
- 10/15 9:36am Re: The Buckley & Mann property, who is the ``PIP Group''? - PR
- 10/11 6:59pm To JM: As a response to your comment "seriously, come on! you mean that the town actually allowed a developer to come into town, clear-cut trees, bring in umteen bulldozers and there are no tenants for the space." From what I know, I can respond with: yes, it did. The question now needs to be asked: why?
- But let's look at the intertwined events all dealing with this project to see why we ended up where the project is today. A conceptual plan was presented for review by Town Boards, as would any development in Town. The only difference with the Town Center project was that the plans of the multiple phases were conceptual and not final in nature. This set the events in motion which allowed for an earth removal permit to be granted. And you now see the results. A review of the package sewage treatment plant indicated technical deficiencies that suggested that insufficient soil was left on the site to allow 30,000 gallons per day of effluent wastewater being discharged into the ground. As bedrock is very close to the surface, the discharged waste water into the thin soil layer would encounter the top of bedrock and flow along the surface and likely come out onto the surface behind the homes on Union Street. A revision of the plan called for "a mound of earth" to be constructed and the treated waste water would be discharged into this earthen mound. Without engineering information that documents otherwise, this mound would eventually become saturated and breakout onto the surface would also occur. So the question is - Do you build a bigger mound which occupies developable land or do you discharge less? Under this scenario, the amount building is constrained by the amount of waste water that is generated, properly treated and discharged. If you are trying to attract a large business or store and the development infrastructure can't handle the waste water generated then you have a reason why tenants are not flocking to this development.
- Also JM as you pointed out, meanwhile our property taxes increase and our roads crumble away, as for the property taxes... this is a result of being a place that people want to live - can't blame the Town for that, nor can I blame the Tow n on the appearance of the Town Center ... this later point is simply inadequate engineering and planning. But the Town can be blamed for granting approvals without having solid, complete information before making the decisions that were made. The plans were conceptual.
- About "our roads crumbl[ing] away," others on this board have stated similarly a nd have noted on the roadway conditions so I won't regurgitate all of that.
- And as for the golf course being able to generate revenue - I encourage you to look at the numbers really closely, understand where they came from, understand what are the assumptions to support the financials. Are those assumptions valid? The consultants that spoke at the recently televised Golf Committee meetings are using their past project experience and already putting the course construction period six months to one year longer than the Golf Committee projected.
- - WB
[This would pretty funny too, if we weren't left holding the bag - first haul off all the topsoil, then try to dig a septic system into bedrock! - Wm.]
- 10/11 12:08pm This is a follow-up to the article in today's Globe (link) regarding the contamination at the Buckley and Mann site in town. The PIP group for the site has reviewed the documents filed by the consultants for this property, and has concluded that there is still contamination present. We've summarized our findings and the implications for the town if we buy the property in a Q&A available here. Additional information, including memos about the contamination submitted to the town boards and the consultants by the PIP group, can be found at the library
- - PIP Group
- 10/8 10:12pm To KT: The location of the proposed golf course lies within the aquifer protection areas or Zone II's for the Towns of Franklin and Wrentham. These are public water supply wells that are permitted with the Department of Environmental Protection. The Department of Environmental Protection will not permit (allow) nor will they permit (regulatory approval of) an irrigation well that would impact public water supplies. While Norfolk does not have a municipal well currently pumping water from this area, there are private residential water supply wells in the area. If the Town is one to follow past history (actually it is recent history) and to address your question, ``If the golf course causes water shortages for the people who live in the area, what recourse will these people have?'' If you have watched the Selectmen's over the past month may have some insight on the expected response from the Town, if your question were to become reality. The irrigation well associated with the recreation fields on Route 115 is adversely affecting the water supply well used by the prison. From what I can tell, the Town has not taken any proactive action, rather it is laying blame on the contractor.
- As for your other question ``What assurances do the people of Norfolk have that the proposed course will not use more water than allowed?'' A part of the current study being conducted by the Golf Committee is expected to look at the potential water supplies in the area.
- I encourage everyone to find out everything you can on this project.
- - WB
- 10/8 10:38am I thought maybe other readers of NorfolkNet would better understand the purpose of the PIP meeting on 10/23 if they knew how and why PIP groups are established. As a person relatively unschooled in such matters, I found this information very useful: http://www.state.ma.us/dep/nero/bwsc/pubinv.htm I guess what I'd like to tell residents who haven't been involved with the PIP petition or with the golf course planning process (like myself) is: this is our chance to find out more about the Buckley & Mann property before the town actually buys it. Regardless of how much you worry about environmental contamination (some folks I know are concerned, some think it's overblown), wouldn't you want to know what the town's getting into before the deal is closed?
- - HPK
[And we're in luck; at last Thursday's golf committee meeting the chairman stated that there is no written Purchase & Sales agreement yet, and that the agreement specifies ``no contamination''. Apparently, the town still has some options open - Wm.]
- 10/8 2:37am More questions regarding the golf course:
- Will this course be developed in accordance with "The Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States," developed by a consortium of golf and environmental organizations?
- The Palm Beach Post reported on June 10, 2001, that 13 golf courses in Palm Beach County exceeded their water use permits by a total of more than 1 billion gallons -- enough water for 18,000 Florida residents for a year - and were not penalized.
- What assurances do the people of Norfolk have that the proposed course will not use more water than allowed?
- If the golf course causes water shortages for the people who live in the area, what recourse will these people have?
- - KT
- 10/2 8:27pm Public hearing about the proposed Town Golf Course site -
- Because of the known presence of contamination at the Buckley and Mann property, which is a key parcel of the proposed Golf Course, several town residents signed a petition asking the State to designate the site as a Public Involvement Plan site.
- In response, the State Department of Environmental Protection requested that a public hearing be held, at which Buckley and Mann's environmental consultants will explain site conditions and answer questions regarding the contamination. This hearing will be held on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 at 7 pm in the Freeman Centennial school auditorium, and is open to the public.
- The Public Involvement Plan (PIP) Group will be reviewing the environmental documents prepared for the site and presenting questions to the consultants at this hearing. The documents are also available at the Library for public review
- - PIP group.
- 9/29 1:21am Rick Gordon of the National Golf Foundation, the consultant for the golf course feasibility study, is coming to Norfolk. He will meet with the Town Administrator and will tour the proposed site at 2:00 p.m. on Oct 2. Golf committee members and some of the opponents of the proposed course will accompany him. Rick Gordon will also attend the Golf Committee meeting of October 4, 8 pm.
- - BM
- 9/2 11:06pm The Town created a web page for the Norfolk Golf Committee, accessible for the time being as www.norfolknet.com/golfcomm. Currently, the page contains a schedule, a calendar, and two requests for proposals (one for a feasibility study, the other for project development and construction management), but contains as of yet no specifics and no answers to any of the questions that have been raised.
- Apropos the golf course, we've been informed that Representative Scott Brown has filed Bill 4423 authorizing the bond for the course. To find the status of this bill, one may call (617) 722-2356 (House Clerk's office) to see if it has been passed yet. Information about Legislative Bills in general can be found on the state legislative web page.
- As to the questions about the course, we came across another written list of questions posed to the golf committee. It's similar to the questions we already had up on the page, but asks different, and often much more penetrating questions.
- 8/15 9:42pm It is ``a bit much'' to have someone from another Town participating in this debate on the Golf Course for a very simple reason: democracy. The rules of democracy are few and simple. Any citizen can participate in government. If not a citizen, you cannot. What is a citizen? It is someone who is resident within the boundaries of the governmental entity and at least 18 years of age. The government is Norfolk Town Government, and it includes the Golf Study Committee. Since GD is a resident of another Town, perhaps he can let us come to our own conclusions in our own way. Of course, as a private citizen, GD is free to develop a golf course, and promote golf, in Norfolk. Pull together investors, put together a plan, and submit it to the appropriate Town of Norfolk boards, who are amenable to commercial development, if you want golf in Norfolk. The Town Boards have worked well with the developers of the new golf and recreation business planned for 115 and Rt. 1A, so it seems. - RG
[Substitute ``loyalties'' for ``democracy,'' then re-read the paragraph for another way of seeing the point raised. Certainly we can agree that GD is an effective and loyal supporter of the game of golf, but he has no obvious incentive to see that Norfolk money is spent frugally, saved for later, or invested in another enterprise - Wm.]
- 8/13 6:46pm To GD: Thank you for responding to the various posts on this board about the golf course. I found this website with an informative article about constructing and maintaining golf courses. After reading this article I can now see where some of the budgeting numbers that the Golf Committee has been using in their various presentations came from. [S]ome, but not all, of the numbers for const ruction presented by the Golf Committee are very, very optimistic.
- However, the finances and the way this proposed golf course in Norfolk is going to be funded still raise questions for me. I reviewed this webpage that has a good discussion about financing the construction of municipal golf courses.
- This article discusses the procurement of a bond. The article states that ``under this type of financing, interest on the bonds is tax free and the taxpayer doesn't have to pay for the construction. General obligation type bonds may or may not require a public referendum. For these types of municipal bonds, a `market and financial feasibility study' is performed to determine the financial success of the proposed operation.'' If that is the case for the proposed golf course in Norfolk then what can be wrong with this plan? [D]oes a formal written market feasibility study exist?
- As I continued to read the article, a reference was made to an Enterprise Fund. The various presentations that have been made by the Golf Committee have used this term many times. Taken directly from the article above ``Many communities, which already have a course and would like to build a new one, set up an Enterprise Fund. Under this arrangement, profits from the existing course go into a special fund to help finance a new course. Another way for a community with an existing course to finance a new one is to levy a surcharge on greens fees. Instead of raising the greens fees, the course adds a 50 cent or $1 surcharge to each round. This surcharge goes back into the golf course instead of the general fund. This money is then used for the development of a new golf course. Community golfers, in effect, are financing their own facilities.'' My question: is the use of the term ``Enterprise Fund'' in this article the same as the Golf Committee is using the term or is the meaning something different? The Town does not have an existing golf course or any other revenue stream to support an Enterprise Fund.
- Any clarification to these financial questions would be appreciated. - WB
- 8/12 10:20pm Is it really ``a bit much'' to live in a neighboring town and promote the game of golf? I will support the game not just because I'm a member of the P.G.A., but because I've seen the game literally keep people alive well beyond their years. I've seen Junior players build confidence and self esteem through golf. I've seen people completely fail at the game and become humbled by its difficulty. All the while I still respect the fact that some people just don't play and don't care to. Do you really think that if the project was in my town that I would not be willing to take the risk of the liabilities involved here? Are people not willing to take a chance on securing a possible revenue source for the future even if it takes ten or more years? I can only hope Medway comes up with some sort of revenue source when my kids have kids so they can afford to grow up in a section of the country that is second to none.
- - GD
- 8/10 2:27pm First, in his 7/24 golf course comments below, Mr. Dowdell's most interesting sentence was that he is a resident of Medway. It's a bit much that an out-of-towner, who will not have to bear the many liabilites associated with the golf course - no matter how successful it might one day be - is actively promoting it.
- Second, was a time line to build the golf course, a schedule of events and dead lines, due to the Selectmen on August 3? If so, what happened to it? No mention was made at the August 3 BoS meeting, nor were Golf Committee members present.
- Third, the Highway Department has got to be one of the best around.
- - RG
- 8/4 12:54pm It is commendable that the golf study committee wants to create revenue for the town. However with 19 golf courses within the surrounding towns - are we creating our own version of the "Big Dig" that all Norfolk tax payers (golfers and non-golfers alike) will end up paying for in our taxes if it is not successful? [ 2 Sharon, 1 N. Attleboro, 1 Dedham, 1 Foxboro, 1 Franklin, 1 Millis, 1 Plainville, 3 Attleboro, 2 Norwood, 2 Bellingham, 1 Milford, 2 Walpole, 1 being built in Norton 140 past Tweeter Center - source http://www.golfcourse.com ]
- - WLS
- 8/3 12:11pm JM commented on another reader's response to Greg Dowdell's post about the Golf Course. I think JM missed the point. Greg's post about the Golf Course ended with the line "It's certainly better than the alternative...". That last line ruined an otherwise well written letter. It is the same veiled threat that if the Golf Course doesn't go in, there will be a development filed with a comprehensive permit. This will allow relief from zoning if below market units are built. This same comment was used about rezoning the Southwood site as well as other subdivisions. If a project stands on its own merit then the mentioning of comprehensive permits is unnecessary. The Golf Committee was told this by the Advisory Board prior to Town Meeting. As an aside . . . The Buckley Mann property is zoned commercially, so that is definitely an alternative.
- - SM
- 8/2 12:19pm In reposone to WB's commentary to Greg Dowdell ("there are several alternatives [...] - recreation, housing, open space, commercial business to name a few. - WB")...housing!? are you kidding? do you think that the town might be in need of a break in terms of housing starts? recreation? there is a new playground on Rte 115 which has not even been used yet!, open space? what is a golf course? and finally, commercial business? oh I see, we want a big ugly building like the one which was prefabbed up at the corner of Rtes. 115 and 1A instead of beautiful rolling hills, lush grass and trees with a much higher revenue stream...Greg, as a resident of Norfolk, I empathize with your challenge. We are all not as myopic in our vision for the future of the town!
- - JM
- 7/27 1:22pm [This is] a question to Greg Dowdell about his post about the Golf Course. As you stated in your message ``It's certainly better than the alternative...'' could you explain what the alternative is to which you are [alluding]. What little I know about the land of the proposed golf course, there are several alternatives [...] - recreation, housing, open space, commercial business to name a few. - WB
- 7/26 5:26pm In response to NR from Franklin. The Norfolk Golf Course is proposed to be within the existing gravel pit with the town line as a property line. When the Franklin portion of the Lorusso property was developed as a residential development, there were set aside Open Space Parcels. These abut the town line which runs through the gravel pit. The closest houses to the town line are on Meadowlark Lane, the town line being approximately at the end of it. Hope this helps.
- I read the article from the New York Times that was posted concerning an overbuilding of golf courses. It is important to highlight that the article focused on the problems in Myrtle Beach, SC. There are 118 golf courses with 5 new in the works within a 60 mile stretch. The article also pointed out that many of the courses in trouble are tied to housing developments.
- George Marderosian, president of Clubhouse Capital, is quoted in the article. It says; "The golf market, he said, has gone soft along much of the eastern seaboard with the notable exception of New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Around those cities, as golfers are all too aware, courses remain crowded." He is also quoted as saying; "If you can get permits to build a golf course within 50 miles of Manhattan, I guarantee you that you will not have trouble getting financing."
- I think it's important to get all the quotes and facts out there, not just the alarming ones.
- - PR
- 7/24 9:25am 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.
- [ C o n t i n u e d . . . ]
[We have also been in contact with the Golf Committee directly, and expect to have more specific details available in a short while - Wm.]
- 7/23 1:12pm I live in Franklin, but the back of my property abuts Norfolk. Our development used to be a gravel pit owned by Larusso and then developed by DiPlacido. Will the golf course be close to this area? I think in the distance I see the back of Park and Mill St (Franklin) There is a HUGE pit behind us. We were told that it was conservation land. I guess I am wondering where the golf course will begin and end. Thank you. - NR
- 7/22 20:43pm Someone e-mailed us an interesting article about the future of golf in the United States. Two quotes in particular caught my attention: ``There has been way too much construction activity without regard to market demand'', and ``Now, the industry is in a free fall''. Many golf courses were built as loss leaders by developers to raise real estate values, and the aging of the baby boom generation is not resulting in a corresponding increase in the number of golfers on the links. The article also mentions that the soft market has thus far spared the Boston area, but that most of the rest of the Eastern Seaboard is affected.
- 7/8 4:42pm Well, I wasn't paying much attention to the golf course, at least not until we started getting all these posts about it. But now, the more I hear, the curiouser the picture becomes. So I've started to collect golf-related questions on a separate page; please compare against your lists, and both more questions and especially answers are welcome!
- 6/25 10:37am There was an item by Mr. Byrne that appeared in the Sun Chronicle relating that he went into a shop for a bagel and people laughed at him and reportedly said ``People in Norfolk aren't smart enough to vote a course in.'' I submit that this type of anecdotal info is disturbing. I would like to know the name of the bagel shop so I can express my feelings about such an expression. - JO
- [ Information like this, especially taken out of context, can be disturbing. But it is hearsay, and can also be mis-interpreted and misleading. But how will you find the people that were in the bagel shop back then? - Wm. ]
- 6/22 3:20pm PCA, I'm not the fellow who got up and quoted the 5 years, but I happen to know the answer to your question. The majority of all new American businesses fail within the first five years, according to studies by the Small Business Administration (SBA), Coopers and Lybrand, and the National Business Incubation Association. 40 percent of all business fail within the first year! Another 40 percent will fail within the first 5 years.
- I'm disappointed that the Committee, which had obviously done some work, decided to ram this through without setting up a public comment period. The argument that they've been meeting every week for two years and everyone could have joined their meetings is silly. Think of this analogous hypothetical situation:
- The Road Safety Committee is set up to look into ways we could make the town's streets more safe.
- The Committee meets every week for a year and a half to discuss possible ideas for creating safer roads.
- The Committee comes to town meeting with a warrant to put the town $11 million in debt by creating a town transit system. They point to Wellesley and Hyannis - communities with transit systems that, through rider fares, return money to the town's coffers. The plan is to go into debt, buy the buses, set up the routes, and, in twenty years, the bus service will pay off all of the debt.
- At town meeting concerned citizens stand up and ask if a bus service is really the best use of our funds. If it will really make money. If the reward is enough to warrant the risk.
- The committee chair gets up and says ``Last night my wife asked me, `are their concerns warranted?' and I said `Gee, I dunno.' But then I decided, hey, we've been meeting for almost two years about this. They could have popped by our meetings in the past 3 months since we decided on buses and stopped us. Let's spend the money.''
- It isn't just silly, it is preposterous. Few people in town knew what the Golf Committee's plans were until Monday night. How were we to find out about it? To seek out the committee's meeting time, show up, and what, annoy the committee that was dead set on building a golf course in town? Is that how we govern the town now -- we hide our plans until town meeting?
- Anyway, it is all water under the bridge now. The site will not gain permits, I can guarantee that. And the town will have taken its eye off the real business of controlling our growth in an intelligent way. And we may be up to a million dollars poorer. Perhaps we'll have some nice civil wars between the town committees charged with protecting the environment, water, and health of the townsfolk and the BOS and Golfing boys. That should help us a lot. What a waste of energy.
- 6/21 6:06pm To those of you who came to the town meetings on Monday and Tuesday, thank you for listening to the positive constructive conversations that were held during the golf course discussion. As the Chairperson over the last 2 years we have spent a significant amount of time on this project. The people that worked with me have extensive relevant backgrounds on various areas related to what it takes to build a course as well as finances and land issues. As a financial adviser to people working in Franklin one of my motto's is to ``preserve and protect'', which worked out for me pretty good last year. We can preserve, protect and produce revenue off this project. This project is a town project which I hope all boards will get behind and try to make happen, a year ago the selectmen made a commitment to the comm. that if we got the vote they would coordinate a meeting with all boards to discuss issues to make this happen smoothly. Having served on the rec. comm over the last couple of years regarding the rec complex I have seen what can happen to delay things and learned from this. We have truly dedicated alot of time to this project and believe this can happen and be a valuable revenue producing asset to the town for years to come. I plan on living in this great town forever and have supported projects in the past like the Lind Property purchase (which I got up at town meeting and sang my version of God Bless America) and also spoke highly in favor of the senior center (which I supported from the get go). Someone overheard somebody saying these yuppies like Myself are over taking the town for no good. I am not a yuppie I was raised a hard working individual with a cop as a dad with a big family who taught me the value of hard work and good ethics. Anyone who wants to get involved contact me at 18775418141. Let's make this happen and be proud we made a difference to serve Norfolk.
- - Joseph Byrne, Golf Course Committee
- 6/21 1:49pm The CPA has three purposes: open space, historic preservation, and low income housing. Recreation is not a purpose according to the legislation enabling the CPA, both by intent, and now according to state regulation. No matter the intent of those who tout golf courses as open space, CPA cannot be used. And to the fellow who saw the heron, two points. The largest heron rookery in the state is here in Norfolk in the swampy lands between the state prison and 115 (Pond Street). You might find it interesting that not too many years ago a golf course was proposed on this very same site. The current golf committee also looked at it, but instead settled on the Lawrence Street site. Look at it, it is largely what most folks mean by open space - trees, squirrels, foxes, plants, wildflowers. Say bye-bye. Once the property is clear cut of trees, it won't be open space, just ``more open, space.'' - RIP
- 6/21 10:42am To MF: Sorry if I offended you with my ``cookie cutter'' statement. I actually live in an older subdivision myself. However, it was a well designed development where a lot of trees were left, houses were not spaced exactly 25 feet from each other and various styles of houses were built, not just colonials. There are a few developers in this town that find it more cost efficient to clear cut a section of woods, build 25 houses that look exactly alike and plant a few trees that will take 30 years to grow. Also, they destroy the landscape by making the terrain fit the houses vs the other way around. Personally, I don't find this attractive. However, I must be in the minority because of the speed at which houses turn over in this town, regardless of where they are located. My neighborhhood has enough green open areas where we have red foxes, deer, turtles and other wildlife living happily. In some of these newer developments there is no place to hide for these and other animals. My comment was mostly directed to those few developers who only care about how much profit they can squeeze out of a house vs caring about the look and feel of a community. - JP
- 6/20 10:23pm Here's how to finance the new golf course: With the town taking in $300,000 plus each year and the state matching it in the first couple of years wouldn't this be a great use of the CPA money and minimize the perceived monetary risks to the town. Even if the state only matched one time, this would make up to 80% ($550K-600K) of the CPA funds since this is a recreational project. Something to think about . . . . makes paying those extra taxes a little more worthwhile doesn't it. Also, some ideas to speed up town meetings:
- 1. Don't tell us all how you know it's late, you're going to be brief, we all want to go home . . . that just eats up time.
- 2. Be relevant.
- 3. Don't ask a question if you already know the answer. Nobody in the audience is impressed when you do that.
- - PA
- 6/20 1:23pm The $10.7 million bond for the municipal golf course passed at the town meeting last night. Needing a two-thirds vote, the tally was 265-105. The warrant gives the Board of Selectmen all final decision making authority. The golf committee will proceed with the permitting process. Being a wetlands area and a former (?) hazardous waste site, various town, state and federal agencies are required to sign off on the project. It is essential that the permits be obtained expeditiously. Once the bond is obtained, interest will start accruing, even though the town will not need to begin payments until 2005. I voted against this bond for a variety of reasons which are now irrelevant. I must now support the golf committee, Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen because failure to complete this project by 2005 will be too costly to the town. - RN
- 6/20 1:21pm To JP who said ``I'd rather have a golf course on the land than another cookie cutter housing development'' - I live in one of those, as you so eloquently put it, ``cookie cutter housing developments'' and I am rather offended by your statement. What is so wrong with people wanting to live in a nice community and have a new home?? I also was raised in what you call a cookie cutter housing development. Over the years, our neighborhood became a beautiful, friendly place to live - each house developed its own unique style due to each of the families that lived in them. I believe that the same will happen here. Just give it a chance . . . we all can't find completely different and unique looking homes in this real estate market. - MF
- 6/19 9:35pm I agree with PA: let's get our priorities straight, schools are more important than the golf course. Sell King Philip High School to Wrentham, and let's start fresh with our own Junior High and High School for Norfolk! It will be a smaller school, but at least we would have control over the quality of the school and the physical facility.
- It's over a week later, and I still can't understand the logic of the outcome of the vote. If you sit in the auditorium of King Philip for any length of time, you will notice the poor quality of the air circulation. Walk the halls and notice all of the deferred maintenance in the building. Would you want to spend seven or more hours a day there? How can you say that this is good enough for the kids?
- When I first saw the condition of the High School, in March, 2000, I was very upset, and cried. Being new to the community, I couldn't understand how this could have been allowed to happen. Years and years of decisions to not spend money and to defer maintenance on the building. For an average of a few hundred dollars a year per homeowner, this could all be fixed. How could this not seem like a good deal?
- Now . . . what? It's going to cost us more in the end, for sure. Millis has their own Jr. High and High School; why can't we? - CR
- 6/19 4:16pm I am a golfer so having a course in town would be great. I'd rather have a golf course on the land than another cookie cutter housing development. However, I've seen the golf committee's presentation and thought it lacked any depth of research. The site cleanup could be extremely expensive and delay the project for a long time (increasing the cost of the project). Remember, the Big Dig project was only supposed to cost $2 billion, not the $12 billion or so now. I think it worth spending a few thousand more to completely flush out any potential problems instead of hundreds of thousands more once they're found. I say let's delay it for another 6 months, get all the issues on the table and have an educated vote.
- On another subject, does anyone know what's happening with the road project at the corner of Union and King Streets? They started it last year and nothing been done since. - JP
- 6/19 3:28pm To all: I guess I failed to realize a lot of things, but I'm not alone in that regard. Let's scrap the golf course, pass the hat tonight, buy the land tomorrow, and start building Norfolk High School on Thursday! - PA
- 6/19 3:06pm I'm all for the golf course, but I am very concerned about the cost involved with the permit process; especially with no guarantee of approval. I also believe that the projected cost are low and wonder how we go about getting more money if the project scope changes. The land costs should be accurate but is the quote for construction valid for 3-4 years? What would be the projected increase if the permit process delayed construction one year?
- No doubt that a golf course is the best use for the property, but [it] still appears we need to do more homework. I would like to see the selectmen postpone this vote until they and the public are able to talk with other town officials that have done this and learn from there mistakes.
- There is an interesting report by the National Golf Foundation titled `` Operating and Financial Performance Profiles of Golf Facilities in the U.S.: 18-hole Municipal Facilities''. It costs $150 but sounds like it may have some good information for the selectmen and town.
- Perhaps my reasoning is more in the timing of this proposal. Had Wrentham approved the King Phillip project, I would have felt more comfortable voting for the golf course project. All the golf courses in the world cannot raise your property values if you do not have a good school system. Let's fix the schools and build the fire station before thinking about golf courses.
- Some people mentioned increasing property values. Well, number one, an increased property value does me no good unless I am thinking about leaving town. It actually hurts me in the form of more taxes. If you want to talk about increasing property values, perhaps the town should maintain its excellent school system image and provide adaquate fire protection.
- - SF
- 6/19 2:37pm To PA: You failed to mention that most of the existing courses used for comparison to evaluate revenue by the Golf Course Committee have a longer operating season and are 36 hole courses compared to the proposed course in Norfolk. One public course included in the analysis by the Golf Committee has brought in only $250,000.00 per year over the life of the course, obviously not near the projected 1 million in annual revenue. The courses used for examples show clear correlation that a longer time in the year operating equals more potentail revenue (emphasis on potential). You failed to mention that a financial presentation made last night disputes the revenue a forecast by the Golf Committee. This other financial analysis showed that no positive cash flow for at least three years and the revenue will not be anywhere near the 1 million in revenue for the first 5 to 6 years. - AB
- 6/19 2:16pm Risky Golf Scheme - It is apparent that the Golf Committee has myopia. They can only see their rosy financial projections but have not done any risk analysis and the possible risks are huge and numerous. The proposed cost is based on an estimate from one architect who has walked the property: no site analysis, no other estimates. The proposed cost does not account for site clean-up costs; the Conservation Commission has not reviewed the site for wetlands issues; private wells may be affected and require that town water be piped into the neighborhoods; Lawrence Street needs to be widened; the permitting process will take longer than one year (probably 3-5 years), during which the town will incur an interest cost of at least $500,000 each year. The best approach is to study these issues and get much firmer estimates before asking the town to vote for funding. However, if the bond vote passes tonight, I urge the Golf Committee, the Advisory Committee and the Board of Selectmen to factor in these issues even if it means increasing the bond to a more realistic $12 - 14 million. - [Anon.]
- 6/19 10:34am Congratulations to Joe Byrne and his committee for a very well organized and informative presentation last night. Upon coming in to the meeting, I was partial towards the golf course. After hearing our State Representative, and our Selectmen, and our Advisory Committee, I was absolutely in favor of it. Hopefully Article 6 gets passed tonight. - PA
- 6/16 10:11am We received a letter about contamination at the proposed Municipal Golf Course. It raises questions about additional associated costs that have not been publicly addressed. It's long, but it's worth reading - Wm.The article and editorial in Friday's Country Gazette about the municipal golf course are first, real solid pieces of information made public on this proposed project. The price tag of 10.7 million dollars is significant, but the financial schedule of payments, as I understand it, makes sense. However, I don't believe that all the costs for this project are known or have been considered in the 10.7 million. At an assumed market rate of $50,000.00 per acre and the plan calls for acquiring 200 acres (one lot alone is 140 acres) the land alone would be 10 million. The editorial cites land acquisition alone to be 4.5 million. The question should be asked, why so cheap?
C o n t i n u e d . . . [Anon.]
- 6/15 9:24pm Putting the school issue aside for just a moment, we in Norfolk have several other financial items to address at this Monday's town meeting. A municipal golf course, the library expansion, a new fire station, sewer lines, and budgetary issues - all of which would be wonderful additions to the quality of life here in town and all of which will affect our tax rate if passed. With the economy slowing and layoffs occurring by the hundreds each week, sadly many of you reading this will be unemployed a year from now. Just as you'll have to adjust your budgets at home, you've got to consider how each tax dollar is to be spent in town. Please make an effort to attend Monday's meeting and vote intelligently. It's YOUR money!
- - Norfolk Observer (NO)