Council discusses clubhouse findings
The Town Council this week discussed the findings of a committee report on potential next steps to build a new clubhouse for the golf course. While there wasn’t any consensus on the options for the replacement building, the councilors could see that the path forward won’t be clear until they decide on a related decision: the location of community programs held at the current structure.
The work session on the replacement strategies report from the Buildings and Facilities Committee was held on April 30. Council President Mike Schnack commended the committee for preparing a comprehensive and highly detailed analysis of a situation demanding resolution before much more time elapses.
The urgency arises from the condition of the broken-down building, which could conceivably collapse under the weight of snow. Consequently, the yoga classes previously held at the clubhouse during winter months have been shifted to off-site locations, including the recreation center, whose potential expansion was also a discussion topic.
Committee Chairman Duncan Pendlebury pointed out, “We worked with the town planning office to produce maps of all the town-owned space where we could spread out the various programs. But there isn’t any space available beyond the locations where we’re currently using space.”
What’s more, the Lawn Avenue School, which hosts a full slate of community activities, and the recreation center could only host a limited number of additional activities should the council decide that the reconstructed clubhouse will not be used for community activities. But that’s not necessarily likely.
In fact, one of the many possibilities discussed by the councilors and the committee members was the joint use of the facility for banquets as well as community activities, with the scheduling for those uses being handled by the Recreation Department, as Schnack suggested.
While there were fairly extensive discussions on clubhouse locations, which are presented graphically in the report, the discussions didn’t have much of a focus on the actual design of the replacement clubhouse and its caddy shack, except for brief discussions about a porch, the necessity for better bathrooms and the apparent disinterest of local golfers in lockers.
The absence of a detailed discussion on the structure’s design was due, in part, to the committee recommendation for the construction of a simple “grey box” whose interior spaces would be finished by the clubhouse operator. The committee is also advising the council to consider building a second floor because it would be cheaper to build it now than it would be to add one in a later year.
One activity for which the current building has previously been used is rehearsals for community theater performances. If the clubhouse was no longer available for that use, and it wasn’t feasible to schedule them at the rec center, the other potential venues discussed at the work session were the schools.
But committee member Mary Meagher pointed out that, under School Department policy, a school custodian must be on duty during any use of a school facility. So, as part of any consideration of this possibility, the council could consider providing funds for the custodial presence that would be necessary for rehearsals.
However, Recreation Director Bill Piva pointed out that the Lawn Avenue School already is hosting a myriad of the department’s activities. “Just look at our schedule,” Piva said, “and you’ll see just how busy the Lawn School is.” He talked about such activities as adult and youth basketball, volleyball, and winter practice for the Jamestown Soccer Association.
When the council holds its discussions on the clubhouse replacement options, one of the issues that will come up is the golf course lease and its potential renewal in conjunction with a decision on the layout of the new structure. The lease expires in 2016, and it was Councilor Bill Murphy who suggested linking its renewal with clubhouse replacement.
Murphy proposed including the structure’s functions (beyond its role as a clubhouse and caddy shack) in lease negotiations, pointing out that adding this wrinkle would result in a greater number of bid submissions. But Councilor Bob Bowen expressed a concern about the delays that would arise from holding in abeyance a solicitation for construction bids until the lease was closer to expiring.
In fact, the availability of any clubhouse during construction is a significant issue because leaving the old one standing while a new one is built would sharply reduce the 96 parking spaces currently available at the facility. Committee members pointed out, however, that all golf courses and clubhouses rely on trailers to accommodate golfers during their construction. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said that there is potentially additional parking available across the street in a lot owned by Bill Munger. “There would have to be a discussion about leasing space,” Keiser said.
Although nothing resembling a consensus emerged from the meeting, there was some support for the idea of building the replacement structure at the northern edge of the parking lot. “There’s a good elevation there, which would provide a good place for a walkout,” said Bowen. He added that the location would provide “an incredible view.”