MASSENA — Town of Massena officials say a resolution they passed last week seeking a partnership that would allow the Massena Country Club to stay open beyond 2020 does not have any financial commitment attached.
“There’s no promise to spend any money. The resolution doesn’t impose any obligation to spend any money. The idea is to develop a system so that the golf course can stay open,” town attorney Eric Gustafson said during last week’s Massena Town Council meeting.
The board passed a resolution asking the New York Power Authority to work with them, the village of Massena and the town of Louisville to ensure the Massena Country Club continues to operate despite its recent financial difficulties. Council member Susan Bellor voted against the resolution and Council member Samuel D. Carbone Jr. abstained from all discussion and voting because of his employment with the New York Power Authority.
“The town of Massena hereby requests that the New York Power Authority move forward to develop a partnership with the Town of Louisville, Town of Massena and Village of Massena to continue the operation of the Golf Course as a public golf course in the Town of Louisville,” the resolution reads.
Council member Robert Elsner initially wondered what “partnership” meant for the town, the wording that Mrs. Bellor opposed. He asked if that meant they would take over, operate and maintain the golf course.
“Is that the simple nutshell of what we’re trying to do?” he asked.
Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said they had met with Louisville officials and some members of the Massena Country Club, Inc. He said the Massena Country Club, Inc. members indicated that they could not continue operating the facility. They have, however, agreed to keep the country club open for the 2020 season.
Mr. O’Shaughnessy said they discussed asking the New York Power Authority to enter talks that could possibly lead to the Massena Country Club having the same status as the Massena Town Beach and other facilities. The Massena Joint Recreation Commission manages the Massena Town Beach.
“We do all the maintenance on the Massena beach. Then we submit bills and vouchers and the Power Authority pays for the maintenance. None of it is funded by taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Deputy Supervisor Albert Nicola said some golf courses in the state are already run by New York State Parks, including courses in Ogdensburg, Syracuse and Bethpage, where the U.S. Open is held.
However, Mr. O’Shaughnessy said they weren’t asking the Power Authority to run the golf course.
“What we want is the same sort of scenario we have with facilities at the beach and Whalen Park,” he said. “We haven’t been able to arrange a meeting with them yet. We asked for that back last year. There’s been some difficulty scheduling a meeting to talk about that.”
If that scenario played out, Mr. Gustafson said there would still be operational expenses, but there would be no property tax on the facilities. The country club currently pays town and county taxes and is behind $65,000 on property taxes, partially because of a declining membership.
Mr. O’Shaughnessy said his concern was that the country club remain open as a viable tourist attraction, and could be used for other activities beyond golf.
“We don’t plan to subsidize golfers,” he said. “I think we should stand with Louisville in committing to keep that facility open.”