Golf course decisions questioned

Mayor Ann Thane’s recent actions regarding the Municipal Golf Course were scrutinized further by mem

Mayor Ann Thane’s recent actions regarding the Municipal Golf Course were scrutinized further by members of the golf course and city aldermen Tuesday.

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, introduced an ordinance that would rescind a previous ordinance giving the mayor and Common Council greater control over the Golf Course Commission.

On another front, the council also narrowly defeated a resolution tentatively adopting the city’s $3.62 million Capital Improvement Program. Aldermen Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, and Richard Leggiero, R-5th Ward opposed the resolution.

A few members of the golf course spoke Tuesday against Thane’s policy to change the tee time reservation system at the course. Thane implemented a policy earlier this month to hold three tee times for non-members during peak hours on weekends and holidays in an effort to generate more money for the course.

An ad hoc golf course committee set up by Thane determined that reserving those tee times for nonmembers during peak hours could generate $13,000 over 22 weeks.

Golf course member Carl Leo was critical of the policy change that he said could affect membership in the future. He also said changing the policy in the middle of the season was unfair to members who had already paid their fees in January.

Leo said he was in favor of “taking politics out of the golf course.”

“I think we should change things back to the way they were. We had a good group of volunteers,” he said referring to the Golf Course Commission members.

Isabel agreed with reverting to the old way of managing the course. In March, the council voted on changes to the city’s Charter, which redefined the Golf Course Commission as an advisory panel and gave the mayor and Common Council the final say over most course matters, including fees, and personnel.

Isabel said those changes have “not been in the best interests of the city of Amsterdam.”

Thane defended the changes, saying it was the city’s way of taking responsibility of a city department rather than letting non-elected volunteers run it.

She also said she would work cooperatively with the members of the Golf Course Commission and encourage the members of the ad hoc committee to do the same. However, she said communication between the two groups was not one-sided.

“I’ve done my part to reach out to the commission and I expect them to do the same,” she said.

The $3.62 million Capital Improvement Program, which was rejected by the split vote Tuesday, included purchase of expensive items for many of the city’s departments.

The program included $80,000 for improvements to the Public Safety Building, along with $57,000 for two new police cars.

The fire department asked for $1.1 million to purchase a new fire engine and ladder. Fire Chief Richard Liberti said the last time the department purchased new equipment was in 2002.

The program also called for $267,000 for the Department of Public Works to purchase plows and trucks and also to make bridge repairs at three locations along the Chuctanunda Creek, $453,500 for the Sewer Department and $340,000 for improvements to the golf course.

Roth said he thought $3.62 million for these items was too much, especially when there are larger concerns in the city, including demolition of blighted buildings and combating crime.

Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said the city does not have to have a Capital Improvement Program. He said the items can be voted on individually as capital projects and there is no time limit on approving them.

Categories: Schenectady County

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