2008-11-26 / Letters to the Editor

Committee needed to protect town 'asset'

This letter was sent to the Town Administrator and copied to the Jamestown Press

Mr. Keiser,

I am writing to you with regard to the Jamestown Golf Course and in particular to the creation of a committee to interact with the contract managers of the town's property there. I attended the Jamestown Town Council meeting in July when the golf course was a major topic of discussion. The need for a golf course committee was examined and, as I recall it, you were going to evaluate that action vs. our current status.

While I am sympathetic with the issues of the neighbors of the course and their objections to the cavalier manner in which they are treated with regard to plantings affecting their views, etc., I am even more concerned with the revelation that the town's people have little in the way of a management role in affecting the performance of the course. There can be no doubt that the course represents the town's single largest piece of property. The Mistowskis have managed that asset for the town since 1986. I was surprised to learn that their current stewardship has been awarded without the benefi t of a public bid. At that Town Council meeting, the Mistowskis, who were present, seemed to have an exalted status - being praised several times by council members as great citizens, etc. - causing me to wonder if the Mistowskis and their performance could be viewed with an impartial eye by the town's elected officials.

I play golf regularly - not very well, but regularly. I have played at the Jamestown Golf Course since arriving in Rhode Island and Jamestown in 1970. I've also played at a number of other courses that are owned by towns - Braintree, Mass., Old Scotland Links-Bridgewater, Mass., Acushnet River Valley-Acushnet, Mass. to name a few - and they are all either managed directly by the town or have active oversight committees that collaborate with and coordinate the actions of the golf course. Those operations and others are very popular and financially profitable for the communities. To me, it makes a lot of sense. After all, it's a town asset. It's a substantial town asset. It's a very visible, tangible town asset - and yet it's awarded on a no bid basis to a firm that has no oversight from the town? Moreover, when a meeting is convened and the principal subject is the Jamestown Golf Course, the Town Council seems to be somewhat in thrall to the contract managers, the Mistowskis, and a bit defensive regarding their management.

This is an active community. Why not take advantage of that activism and put a committee in place to interact with the managers of the course and see if we can't enjoy a higher level of satisfaction all around?? I can't see a down side to this action - can you??

Jack Sheehan


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