Story by Ed Townsend
ROSCOE The economy, finances and making sure the budgets stay in the black have become major management topics among owners and operators of small nine-hole golf courses and this has now prompted the Roscoe Twin Village Golf Course (TVGC) to explore a $188,500 conservation easement offer from the Open Space Institute (OSI).
Bob Anderberg, New York OSI general counsel explained the OSI offer before the club’s certificate holders June 27 at the Twin Village clubhouse.Anderberg explained that OSI protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats and to sustain community character. It achieves these objectives through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships and analytical research.
He acknowledged that much of OSI’s work in New York is accomplished through a permanent endowment fund Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace set up in 2001.
All of OSI's work is guided by a consistent conservation strategy that emphasizes permanent protection on a landscape-level scale. Since its inception in 2000, the program has made more than 70 loans and grants for nearly $80 million to protect 1.6 million acres valued at more than $530 million.
Under the proposed environmental easement, Anderberg explained that TVGC would continue as a golf course, but not be able to develop the land or sub-divide it. Ownership would not change, no fracking would be allowed, the clubhouse could be expanded up to a total of 3,000 square feet, additions could be made to the maintenance shop building, a golf cart protection shelter could be added on the course and there would be no restrictions as to what the club does within the clubhouse.
The 29-acre, nine-hole 2,045 yard par-32 TVGC is presently appraised at $400,000 and would receive $188,000 from OSI -- after paying taxes the total would be approximately $141,000. TVGC could opt to receive annual payments of $32,000 over a five-year period.
Certificate members attending this meeting voiced positive and negative responses with those supporting the OSI offer saying that the $32,000 per year for five years would help the club purchase needed maintenance equipment, make clubhouse improvements, add new sand to the bunkers and allow the purchase of additional golf carts.
TVGC board of directors treasurer Chuck Husson, a strong supporter of the proposal said that the only way the club has been able to stay out of the red is through money received from an annual year-end fundraiser. But that money has never been enough to make needed club improvements. Husson said that expenses are up, membership and income are down and the club cannot continue to depend on the end-of-the-year fundraiser to sustain operations. He projected that with the easement the club could make needed improvements and be financially sound for at least 10 years.
Several certificate board members expressed concerns that the club was meeting existing expenses and the easement would not have any effect on the present assessment. They noted that some land owners who have made these arrangements with OSI regretted what they had done.
Of the 24 certificate members attending this informational meeting, 18 voted in favor of exploring the OSI offer and agreed that consideration should be given to hiring an attorney with environmental easement background to examine the OSI easement proposal.
The TVGC board will also mail a ballot to all certificate club members.