Golf course oversight to remain as is for now

After a lengthy debate, the Common Council agreed Tuesday to take no action for now on an ordinance
Gary D’Lugas tees off on the first hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Gary D’Lugas tees off on the first hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday.

After a lengthy debate, the Common Council agreed Tuesday to take no action for now on an ordinance that would rescind a previous measure giving the mayor and Common Council greater authority over the Golf Course Commission.

The council passed a resolution in March that clarified language in the city’s charter to make the Golf Course Commission an advisory panel that reports to the mayor and Common Council.

Mayor Ann Thane’s decision to alter the procedures for booking tee times at the golf course came under fire in June when she side-stepped the commission and Common Council and told course employees to hold some tee times during peak hours for nonmembers. The idea came out of an ad hoc golf course committee Thane organized to help generate ideas for creating more revenue at the course.

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, said he felt strongly that Thane had overstepped her boundaries and he sponsored the ordinance rescinding the previous measure giving her more power.

“The old law was working,” Isabel said Tuesday.

Previously, the commission had to consult with the mayor and Common Council before making any changes at the course, Isabel said.

Ron Barone, chairman of the Golf Course Commission, said he thought the ordinance giving Thane more authority was “utterly ridiculous.”

“If you aren’t going to let the Golf Commission act the way it has for 70 years, then abolish it and let the city run the course,” he said.

Barone said he was angry that Thane changed the rules in the middle of the season, when golf members had already paid their fees.

“Please, please use common sense,” he said.

Thane said the first two weeks of the new policy raised $1,250 for the golf course.

“All the angst that you are feeling is that you’re uncomfortable with change, but it’s all good,” she said.

She said more people are talking about the golf course and getting involved than ever before, which is also a good thing. She said she had never heard about the needed repairs to the course until this year.

“We’ve opened up a box and it’s a little murky in there, but it’ll straighten itself out,” she said.

Thane said the reason why she wanted to adopt the ordinance in the first place was so a group of volunteers weren’t in charge of a city department.

“It’s a large business up there and it’s not fair that it’s run by non-elected volunteers,” she said. “It’s just not good government.”

Isabel said the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency is a board of seven volunteers appointed by the mayor that controls millions of dollars.

The council decided to table the ordinance after Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, made a motion to amend the previous ordinance to clarify the chain of command for enacting change at the course. He said any ideas should first be brought to the Golf Course Commission.

Categories: Schenectady County

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