2018-03-15 / Editorial

Spend more time on golf clubhouse issue

The saying is that when opportunity knocks, one should answer.

Of course, the reason it may be knocking on your door is that everyone else in the neighborhood already has told it to take a hike.

That may be the predicament the town councilors currently is in regarding the proposed golf course clubhouse. They likely will decide between a $2.1 million single-floor plan and a $2.9 million two-story option at Monday’s meeting. While both would have public space, the larger plan has more and is designed to attract revenue-bearing activities like corporate parties, weddings and trade shows.

There has been little vocal public support at previous meetings for the plans. The golfers who have spoken against them, as well as the Mistowski family, have expressed an interest in keeping the site a golf-only facility. The Mistowskis have been good stewards of the course since 1986 so their opinion should carry a lot of weight in this discussion.

The concern is that unrealistic revenue expectations may be driving this decision. So far, the town has not produced any type of independent consulting report that indicates there is a local market for weddings, trade shows and other potential money-generating events, especially in such a small state where other such venues already exist.

If this idea was pitched on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” the experienced venture capitalists would require some type of proof of such demand before investing their own money. That’s exactly what the town would be doing – asking taxpayers to invest their money on this project. Without such proof, the would-be entrepreneurs would be, in the words of “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary, “Dead to me.”

Yes, the clubhouse space, which has been vacant for years, is a tempting site. Yet, to do something without a business plan in hand spelling out the potential revenue opportunities and a fact-based study to support those numbers is not good government.

Postponing a decision costs nothing and is the prudent thing to do. It would provide more time to see if those revenue opportunities truly do exist or if they’ve already knocked on someone else’s door and been answered.

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