Home » Concord Councilors to Vote on $10.3 Million Bond for New Golf Course Clubhouse, Public Pushback
Concord Economy Featured Global News News Technology US

Concord Councilors to Vote on $10.3 Million Bond for New Golf Course Clubhouse, Public Pushback

Concord city councilors next week will vote to approve, deny or delay the appropriation of a $10.3 million bond for the construction of a new clubhouse at Beaver Meadow Golf Course.

The financial request includes $5.9 million for the building construction, $1.4 million for parking lot and site work and $3 million in other, smaller construction, landscaping and engineering costs, according to city documents.

In August, developers proposed an 18,000-square-foot, three-story model, which was abandoned in September when the New Hampshire Golf Association decided not to lease space in the clubhouse. The final plan asks councilors to approve funding for a one-level facility that’s been scaled back to 15,000 square feet and includes the construction of a new parking lot and surrounding walkways.

Ward 5 Councilor Stacey Brown has been outspoken against the $10.3 million project, $4.5 million of which was included in the budget for construction in 2025, not next year, she said. The council did not learn that the project cost ballooned to its current price until Nov. 9.

At the City Council meeting last month, Brown made a motion to table any action on the vote to a future, undetermined date to give the public time to review the new plans and provide feedback. Her motion failed 3-12 and a public hearing was instead set for Dec. 11.

“I definitely feel like the city has not been engaged or involved in the decision. Folks are struggling with property taxes and costs and I think we can take care of our municipal facilities reasonably and I want to see that facility assessment,” Brown said in an interview with the Union Leader Sunday. “It’s way too soon to vote to set aside $10.3 million for the golf course ahead of other needs. I think it’s being rushed and I don’t think it’s right.”

Concord resident Bob Maccini is petitioning for a public presentation ahead of voting and more than 200 city residents have agreed.

“This decision has been made without proper public consultation or transparency. We believe that taxpayers have a right to understand how their money is being spent and should be allowed to provide input on such a significant expenditure,” Maccini wrote.

In the comments, residents that signed the petition called on city officials to use the money to address more pressing issues, like affordable housing and homelessness.

Mayor Jim Bouley, who voted against Brown’s motion and has been a strong proponent for the golf course, could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

At the November meeting he said, “This is not a rush by any imagination. We have a responsibility to the citizens of Concord to fulfill our obligations when we sat there two years ago and we held their hand up, and we took our oath. So I would strongly encourage that we move forward with a public hearing.”

Visioning sessions

During visioning sessions for the clubhouse in the spring, community members said they wanted to see public access for all residents, restaurant and patio services, space for community ski groups and simulators for golf play and a pro shop. Without transportation to and from the golf course, which is located north of the city center and not accessible via public transit, the fear is it won’t be the community hub some councilors envision it to be.

The facility is designed to support activities at the golf course for the next 50 years and incorporates activities for golf, cross country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, golf simulators and other community uses.

In 2019, councilors authorized $100,000 in funding for the replacement of the doors and windows and restroom upgrades. The following year, City Manager Tom Aspell requested an additional $130,000 as part of the annual capital budget to complete the project.

However, during budget negotiations, councilors did not approve the funding and instead requested a facility assessment. An ad-hoc committee appointed by Bouley worked with H.L. Turner Group to complete the assessment which showed that the current facility was in need of more than $1 million in renovations. The assessment has not been presented to councilors or the public.

Instead of completing the renovations, the committee suggested building a new facility instead of spending any money on the existing. This past year, $490,000 was included in the Capital Improvement Project for the design of a new facility.

If approved, the property tax impact per $300,000 over the course of the 20-year bond would begin at $30 in 2026, increase to a maximum of $39 during 2030 and 2031 and taper down to as low as $6 during the last year of the bond’s life in 2044. Construction is expected to take around 12 months to complete and there will be a disruption to golf course operations.

Source : Union Leader