This page contains questions residents have had about the Norfolk Municipal Golf Course. The first list is mine, the second list is one developed independently that we attached with permission.

Natick course not doing as well
as hoped, either (7/24/02 Metrowest Daily News). Club pro Pete Meagher was hoping for better the first year, "I thought with the market in New England it would be a lot busier. ... It certainly didn't live up to my expectations."
Walpole decides against golf course
Town residents voted 3,255 to 2,147 against allowing their golf committee to continue their feasibility study for an 18-hole course located on the former Adams Farm (by North St.).
Walpole looking to build
a municipal golf course (5/12/02 Boston Globe) (two groups, one studying 100 acres near Norfolk for a 9-hole course, a town committee looking into an 18-hole course)
Abutters' experience
with the Natick Municipal Golf Course (5/12 Boston Globe) (assessments doubled, mowers at 7am daily, voices at 5am; residents find comfort in moving: ``You can take the money and run when you sell. It's not too much to cry about.'')
Golf Study Committee Page
The web site created for the Golf Study Committee as part of the Communication Plan intended to improve the dialogue between the GC and its skeptics. In particular, the documents page contains some of the transcribed work product of the committee.
The BSC Report
The wetlands consultants' feasibility report, dated 4/27/2001, that cast a pall on the possibility of an 18-hole course. These results did not make it into wide public circulation until five months later, when posted to the web site in late September/early October 2001.
My (the Webmaster's) analysis
My notes on what I see as the major unaddressed issues facing the golf course.
The archived golf course discussions
that have taken place on Norfolknet.
detailed technical review
PIP group's analysis of how the CDM report filed with the DEP fails to meet state environmental law and DEP rules governing contamination cleanup. This is a very detailed and technical document addressing specific sections of the CDM RAO with references to state law showing what work was perfomed vs. what was required. Very thorough, very technical, very air-tight.
Executive summary of results of technical review
PIP group's memorandum to the Town regarding the review of the CDM RAO filed on the Buckley/Mann property. Briefly summarizes the conclusions reached in the technical review.
PIP group Q&A sheet
PIP group's informational description of why the issues relating to the Buckley/Mann property are important to the Town.
Issues in Plain English
PIP group non-technical summary of the RAO filed by CDM. This is the non-technical counterpart to the detailed, technical review, and lists the shortcoming without resorting to specialized technical language. detailed technical review and the summary were written by an environmental expert with sufficient qualifications to have conducted the remediation and written the original report.
Unmet legal requirements
PIP group critique of the RAO filed by CDM with the DEP, listing some critical omissions and referencing state law by paragraph number. This is the slide with the question that was up when the CDM consultant shut off the projector instead of answering.
NGF Study
The feasability study prepared by the National Golf Foundation, which was commissioned in an attempt obtain reputable expert opinion on the subject of whether the golf course as proposed would be economically feasible and advantageous.

Questions regarding the Town Golf Course
My original list, 7/8/01

Sheesh, I never paid any attention to anything having to do with this town golf course until after it got voted in, when we started getting all the posts about it! But now, the more I hear, the curiouser the picture becomes, and I've started this page to gather the questions that I've come across about it. If your questions are not yet listed, and especially if you can answer some of them, please write us! - Wm.

Questions concerning the proposed Norfolk Municipal Golf Course
CE's questions, attached with permission, 9/2/2001

Market Demand: In the face of increasing evidence that the industry may have overbuilt, how reasonable is our assumption of 40,000 rounds at proposed average fees?

  1. Has any estimate of demand been prepared based on available demographics or other data? If only 15% of rounds will be played by Norfolk residents (per Golf Study Committee), how large an area might we need to draw from?
  2. Do we have a complete inventory of existing courses in the area with fees, rounds played and similar data? (Local phone directories list 18 public courses in the area.)
  3. Have we identified all proposed and planned courses in the area? (TPC in Norton, proposed courses in Milford, Walpole, etc. : 28 under construction, 32 in planning in MA per MA Golf Assn) Are we comfortable with the impact of these courses on proposed greens fees, etc?
  4. Do we understand the implications of not having a clubhouse or other facilities (tennis, pool, restaurant, club house)? Does our plan assume any revenues from corporate outings?
  5. Why do we think our ramp up to 40,000 will be faster than that of similar clubs?
  6. Are we comfortable that residents won't demand lower fees for juniors and seniors?

Environmental Liabilities: Have we identified potential liabilities associated known contamination and proposed use of the property?

  1. What level of diligence will the Town do to assure we will not be assuming liability for further remediation of the property under Superfund legislation?
  2. What is the likelihood (due to changes in legislation or ownership) that the Town may be required to remediate the 31 acres where contamination has been capped but not lined? What would be the cost?
  3. Has ground water contamination (as reported to the Bd. of Health) been successfully addressed? If not, how much will this cost? Who will bear this cost? Is it included in the budget? Will it be a liability for the abutters or the Town operating budget?
  4. What are the risks associated with extensive earth moving given known contamination of the property?
  5. What are the risks to wildlife & water supplies associated with the various pesticides, herbicides and fungicides commonly used by golf courses?
Water Resources: Have we explored the adequacy of water resources to support a golf course? (estimated at 20-25 million gallons/year)
  1. What are the implications of information provided at Town Meeting: the property rests on 3 aquifers: one feeding the property & abutters, one supplying the Town of Franklin and one serving the prison? The abutters, most of whom are on wells, are already experiencing problems with their water supply. What is the cost of supplying these residents with Town water?
  2. Given existing ground water contamination, is the Golf Committee's proposal that we use the river to irrigate the course feasible?
  3. Alternatively, has the cost of drilling wells and holding ponds been included in the proposal?
Design Issues: Does property contain sufficient available yardage for at least a 6,200 yard course? (current plans are 6,500 yds.)
  1. The course, as presented to date, does not comply with wetlands restrictions.
  2. Three holes rest on property whose owners are listed as unknown. One of these owners has apparently been identified. Can a viable course be built without these properties?
  3. Are existing buildings adequate to support cart rental and merchandise sales (30-40% of greens fees) implied in the plan? Are facilities adequate for maintenance & other equipment?
  4. Do we have suitable space to build a club house in the future? What would this cost? Have these figures been incorporated in the plan?
Financial Analysis: Do we have any detail on the plan as presented? What will be the process for revising and reviewing these figures so we can be comfortable that the course will indeed bring revenues to the Town?
  1. Do we have any details on land purchase prices including permitting and other related costs (design, consultants, etc.)?
  2. Do we have any details on the construction budget? How does our budget compare to other similar projects? (Glen Ellen just spent $3MM upgrading their facilities) Have we tried to ascertain costs to demolish or improve the existing buildings? How much is planned for equipment and inventory purchases given revenue reliance on these items?
  3. How do proposed operating margins compare to statistics gathered by the National Golf Foundation?
  4. Do we have any details on the expense assumptions in the plan? Why is the inflation rate lower for expenses than revenues? How much of these expenses are variable vs. fixed? What is the true break-even for the operation?
  5. Have we prepared a plan which accurately represents the reserve and interest income associated with the operation? (Proposal as presented inflates contingency reserve and income given proposed debt structure and applicable legislation (arbitrage)?
  6. Have we done any contingency analysis, e.g. cost overruns or delays, slower build up to 40,000 rounds? Do we understand how municipal golf courses perform in poor seasons and economic downturns? Do we understand how lower fees for seniors and juniors would impact the plan?
  7. Have we prepared a realistic analysis of actual maintenance and capital improvement expenses?
  8. Do we understand the impact of this debt on the Town's debt capacity and other imminent projects?
  9. Have we calculated the value of the course at various points of operation so we understand our fallback situation? (Prices are currently declining and range from 7-10 x NOI)
Infrastructure Requirements: Have we identified the related costs to the Town associated with this project?
  1. Will Lawrence St or its bridge need to be widened or improved?
  2. Will abutters need Town water? (See above) Are there costs to acquire the water usage rights?
  3. Will sidewalks be required?
  4. Are costs of additional services required of Town Depts. (accounting, insurance, snow & ice, etc) included in the plan?

Process Issues: Do we have a project plan, including identified go/no go decision points for BOS as promised at Town Meeting?

  1. Have we identified all permitting authorities, their submission requirements, review and approval time frames?
  2. Do we know what resources will be required to complete the following:
    • feasibility analysis
    • environmental due diligence
    • zoning & other permitting
    • design
    • construction management
    • financial review
    • accounting systems
  3. Have the BOS agreed upon their decision points relative to permitting, expenditures, liabilities, revised financials, etc.?
  4. Do we have a communication plan to keep residents informed of progress/status? Do we have resources committed to executing it?
  5. Have we verified that the process to funnel profits to the Town as revenue as promised?
  6. Have we thought about how we can align the management company's interest with ours without jeopardizing the tax exempt status of the bond?
  7. Does the BOS know how they will respond to operating shortfalls? Are there dollar limits to our funding? When would the Board consider sale of the operation?
  8. Who will manage this project on a full time basis on behalf of the BOS?
  9. What is the role of the Golf Study Committee during the development, construction and operation phases of this project? Do they completely understand and accept this role?

Philosophical Questions:

  1. Are we felling a forest and razing the land in order to preserve open space?
  2. Have we considered alternate uses for the property? Conservation land along with small "values" course?
  3. Why aren't we following the precedent of other towns in working with a partner to develop and operate the course?

From the Notes

  • 10/8  2:37am  
    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

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