2013-01-24 / Front Page

Town councilors decide to replace golf course building

Safety concerns will lead to demolition of current one
BY MARGO SULLIVAN

The Jamestown Golf Course building will be demolished and replaced with a new structure, the Town Council decided Tuesday night.

The vote to move forward with a new building was unanimous, but councilors left the specifics to be decided later. At the minimum, the building will include a clubhouse and storage space for the golf course operator as required under the terms of the lease. Also, the town may opt to add a second floor and square footage to accommodate a banquet hall, meeting center and conference rooms.

Councilor Eugene Mihaly said the panel should make a commitment to “replace the building and start the process of what comes next.”

Mihaly said the issue was safety because the building is not up to code and has numerous structural problems.

“The real issue on the table here is not design, but do we replace the building?” he asked. He went on to say “the case is compelling” to knock down the clubhouse.

Mihaly said Fire Chief Jim Bryer has been “very strong” about the risks and dangers due to an insuffi cient number of exits and problems with electrical wiring.

“In other words, it’s a potential town liability,” Mihaly said.

Mihaly also said the town should hire an architect to start designing a new building.

Before the vote was taken, the councilors heard from Duncan Pendlebury, chairman of the Buildings and Facilities Committee. Pendlebury said the committee’s recommendation was to replace the building.

Pendlebury had offered the same recommendation to the previous Town Council and he referenced the structural engineer’s 2011 report when he described the building’s serious safety problems.

Currently, the golf course, which is a seasonal business that opens April 1, has a pub in the building and uses basement storage space for lawn mowers and other equipment. In addition, the Recreation Department has been using the building for classes and community theater rehearsals, but the building has been closed periodically – primarily during the winters – due to safety problems.

In September 2011, structural engineer Peter Grafe of C.A. Pretzer Associates completed a building assessment for Town Engineer Michael Gray and responded to several safety questions.

Grafe recommended closing the building to the public in the winter and during hurricanes and tropical storms as a short-term solution due to problems with the roof.

He also indicated the town needed to make repairs to the foundation. Otherwise, the basement was not safe for the golf course to continue using. Also, no more than 20 people should be in the building for recreational programs and rehearsals.

The committee considered the programs when they reviewed options for the building, but over the past year, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said, other options have emerged, such as a new yoga studio that opened in Jamestown. The studio could take over those classes at a cost within $2 of the price residents pay the department, he suggested.

“That’s something new on the table,” he said.

Keiser said the town did not want to be in competition with private businesses, and pointed out the rec department’s yoga classes had started before the yoga studio moved to town. If the Island Heron took over the classes, the town would not need the space at the golf course building.

During the discussion, the councilors indicated the new building might accommodate a meeting center, banquet hall and conference rooms if the facilities could successfully attract business.

Pendlebury said the location is good because the golf course is easily accessible from the highway. But he added the town would need to do some studies to decide if a small banquet room accommodating 100 people would be in demand.

Keiser anticipated other locations would be competing for the business and a small banquet facility might or might not be profitable, he said.

Keiser said the course operator’s lease expires in 2016. He suggested town staff should come up with a plan to accommodate the clubhouse needs while construction is underway, such as bringing in a trailer.

In other matters, the councilors voted to accept the Conservation Commission’s recommendations for Mackerel Cove and plant vegetation at the eastern end of the beach as a way to help control erosion. The plantings would create a coastal buffer and would eliminate up to six parking spaces at the beach.

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