MOUNT CARMEL — City Clerk Rudy Witsman presented the City Council, and all those in attendance at the meeting Monday, with the city’s agreement with West Berwick Management to manage the city’s municipal golf course.
Witsman outlined the benefits of the tentative agreement and what the management change means for the city and frequenters of the course.
“As most would agree, our golf course is a very valuable asset to the city and we recognize the importance of having it,” Witsman read from a prepared statement.
“Unfortunately, maintaining the facilities for an enjoyable experience for both our residents and for those that visit our community on either business or pleasure has been extremely difficult with the on-going difficulty in finances,” Witsman continued.
With that difficulty in mind, Witsman said, city officials have tried to figure out a way to improve the facilities and player experience while not burdening city tax payers.
“The city has reached a tentative agreement with West Berwick to manage the golf course and achieve these goals and be a benefit to our community for years to come,” said Witsman.
Some points Witsman emphasized during his statements included that the course would remain public and that the city would retain ownership of the property.
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Additionally, as part of the plan, West Berwick agreed to make capital improvements to the city-owned property at no cost to the city. These improvements will include continued cart path improvements, fairway improvements and a complete clubhouse renovation including the dining and bar areas. The upgrades are supposed to begin this winter.
The fees for the 2019 year will “remain in line” with 2018 fees, Witsman said.
“I’ve been involved with city government for probably 20 years,” Witsman said.
“Within the past 10 to 15 years, it’s been a real struggle for the city to maintain the golf course at the level that it needs to be maintained, as we’ve all experienced,” continued Witsman.
Witsman said West Berwick will be able to accomplish more than the city has been able to, with its limited budgetary resources.
“It’s nothing by a win-win situation in my opinion,” he added.
Doug McPherson, representing West Berwick, spoke to the City Council following Witsman’s comments.
“We’re just excited for the opportunity to be able to manage it,” McPherson said.
Expressing an eagerness to begin with the capital improvements, McPherson said West Berwick officials were of the opinion the improvements have been a long time coming for the facilities.
“We are committed and looking forward to it,” he said.
Mayor Bill Hudson said his main concern regarding the deal was the two city employees at the golf course.
McPherson said West Berwick officials intend to retain those employees.
With a couple of details yet to finalize, the Mount Carmel City Council will hold a final vote on the issue Dec. 31, at 1 p.m. at the next meeting.
Because he was affiliated with both the city government and West Berwick, Commissioner Eric Ikemire abstained from the vote to proceed with the plan Monday.