Finance board approves $7M golf clubhouse bond
FAIRFIELD — The H. Smith Richardson Golf Clubhouse Committee’s $7,020,000 bond resolution for a new building saw heavy scrutiny — and even proposed amendments from the Board of Finance — but was ultimately approved.
Craig Curley and Hal Schwartz, chair and vice chair of the building committee respectively, presented the bond resolution to the finance board.
“We want to point out that $4.5 million goes to the clubhouse building itself. This is a bigger project than just the building. It requires professional services and a funding request,” Curley said.
The Board of Selectmen recently approved the clubhouse committee’s resolution — originally with a $7.3 million price tag — but amended the proposal to transfer $280,000 from the bond to the annual operating budget of the Department of Public Works. The department will now have to find funds for that amount for the upcoming budget season.
Finance board members were concerned with what the long-term benefits and revenues of the new clubhouse; Curley said the golf commission was looking at hosting more tournaments and pushing a marketing campaign to capitalize on the new project.
Ryan Scully, chair of the golf commission, agreed. “We’re looking at a website redesign and that’s important for bringing tournaments in.”
Curley said the last “value-engineering” session suggested by the selectmen — cuts, essentially — had done away with more aesthetic factors of the building, including an outdoor chimney, ornate doors and lighting on specific parts.
“We didn’t take the last set of cuts lightly,” Curley said. “Any deeper cuts would end up with a product that would feel cheap on the edges.”
Finance board member Christopher DeWitt wasn’t happy with the $7 million bond.
He proposed an amendment lowering the amount by $2 million. “I feel like this project has been designed for a small group of taxpayers rather than the 60,000 people of this town,” DeWitt said.
The amendment failed, however. Board member Elizabeth Zezima also proposed to return the $280,000 the selectmen took out from the bond resolution, but that change also fell flat when Curley said further delays to the approval process could cost the town $35,000 per month.
Ultimately, the Board of Finance approved the bond resolution with all board members, save for DeWitt, voting in favor.
The clubhouse committee has its final presentation with the Representative Town Meeting at the end of the month, where it needs a majority in the 40-person body for final approval.