Critics blasting Amsterdam golf course policy change

Mayor Ann Thane felt the backlash Thursday of her decision to modify the tee time reservation system

Mayor Ann Thane felt the backlash Thursday of her decision to modify the tee time reservation system at the city’s Municipal Golf Course.

Members of the Golf Course Commission and aldermen have been critical of the way Thane implemented a policy to set aside tee times for nonmembers during weekly peak play periods in an effort to raise more money at the golf course. A committee that recommended the policy change to Thane indicated that an additional $13,000 over the roughly 22-week season could be generated.

Thane implemented the policy without discussing it with members of the Golf Course Commission or bringing a proposal before the Common Council.

One alderman wants colleagues to consider restricting her authority over the Golf Course Commission, a power the council more clearly defined in March.

Members of the Golf Course Commission unanimously voted Wednesday to offer a resolution asking the members of the Common Council to overturn Thane’s golf course policy change.

Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, said he doesn’t disagree with the policy change, but disagrees with the way Thane handled the implementation.

“There is no reason for the Golf Course Commission to be there if she is going to go behind their backs and implement changes,” Roth said.

Roth said he plans to air his concerns over the way Thane handled the situation during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. Roth said he feels like Thane is putting a “bad taste in the community’s eyes” about the Golf Course Commission. He said there are more important issues that Thane could be tackling besides tee times.

Golf Course Commission Chairman Ronald Barone said a procedure for policy changes should be established.

Barone suggested that Thane and the committee recommending golf course operation changes should bring their suggestions to the Golf Course Commission, which would then recommend to the Common Council. The Common Council would then decide.

“She should have come before us,” Barone said. “We’re not dummies. I’ve been on this course for over 40 years and I’m not here to hurt it, that’s for sure.”

Barone said he fears Thane’s changes to the course have given it a “black eye” and the course will lose membership.

“This is going to cause disharmony and next year my fear is we’ll be 200 members short and then we’ll have to say, ‘Goodbye,’ and close the doors,” Barone said.

Barone said it is also unfair to change the rules in the middle of the season when residents have already paid for their memberships.

City Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said Thane has the authority to implement changes at the golf course without consulting the Golf Course Commission.

“She has operational control of city government,” DeCusatis said. “[The commission] has no authority to direct the operation of the course.”

Thane said as CEO of the city it is her responsibility to make these types of changes.

“If you don’t change anything, nothing will change,” Thane said.

Thane said she had no idea that the policy change would cause so much controversy and said she would change the way she seeks to implement future golf course policy.

“I hear them. I hear where [the commission members] are coming from and in the future I will run our suggestions by them,” Thane said.

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, said he was apprehensive about giving Thane more authority over the Golf Course Commission in the first place. He said he intends to talk with aldermen about removing the oversight they granted her in March.

“We have a lot more serious problems than the mayor going up there and worrying about tee times,” Isabel said.

Alderwoman Kim Brumley, C-3rd Ward, said she believes both the commission and Thane have valid points, but everyone including members of the committee, need to work together.

“This separate decision-making makes things chaotic,” Brumley said. “Everyone has good intentions, but the commissioners have been there awhile, they know this stuff and they may have ideas too.”

Brumley said she understands Thane has the ability to implement change without anyone’s input, but that doesn’t mean she should.

“The mayor has the ability to do these things, but she needs input from all parties.”

Brumley said she doesn’t see any reason to consider removing Thane’s authority over the Golf Course Commission.

“I would need to be persuaded to reduce her power. And at this point that is not anything we should be discussing,” Brumley said.

Brumley agreed that more attention needs to be paid to other city departments.

“All this attention paid to the course is not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to spend just as much time on other city departments. Codes [enforcement] is the biggest one.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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