Against recommendations ... Council OKs golf cart fees


Against the recommendations of the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Comm-ission, the city's Common Council voted down a resolution Tuesday that would have implemented a $6 trail fee for non-cart owning riders and amended other proposed rates.

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler and 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero, following the lead of 3rd Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone, voted the resolution down 3 to 2. Second Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman and 1st Ward Alderman Edward Russo voted yes.

After amending the resolution, the new rates are: For 18 holes, it will cost a non-member $12 per person to rent a cart, and a member $10 per person. For nine holes, it will cost a non-member $8 per person and a member $6 per person.

The commission had proposed to set unlimited cart usage for the season at $500; however, the council approved it for $350.

Both the unlimited cart usage and the $6 trail fee are new items proposed at the course, but the trail fee was not well received.

"I'm proposing the trail fee be deleted totally on this resolution and the unlimited cart fee be lowered to $350," Barone said. "Delete that trail fee completely."

Commission chairwoman Michele Russo said the $500 is in line with surrounding courses, though the number of golfers who attended Tuesday night's meeting to protest the changes disagreed.

According to their websites, Hales Mills Country Club charges $500 for unlimited use and Fox Run Golf Club charges $475.

"OK," Mayor Ann Thane said. "So, you're not concerned about the budget? Call roll."

The amended resolution was passed unanimously.

"I'm sorry that Mr. Barone is choosing to want to see this city and the golf course fail," Michele Russo said. "That's very sad to me. ... Unfortunately Mr. Barone wanted to look like the hero here and risk losing the golf course money."

One reason for the $500 fee was to build revenue to pay off the 30 golf carts the city just leased from Five Star Golf.

"We need to make some money on the course in order to make the changes and make an investment into the course itself," commissioner Pam Ritter said after the meeting. "And that just shot it right in the foot. The taxpayers are going to pay for more expenses up there."

She said her efforts are being sabotaged.

"We're working very hard to make improvements to the golf course," Ritter said. "We've reached out to the Robert Trent Jones Society. ... We have changes that we'd like to implement. But it takes time. We have to have a plan together. Everyone just needs to be patient and calm down."

There was another change the commission discussed at its meeting that was not mentioned; however, it also was not included on the resolution.

According to the commission, the nearly 200 people who currently store their cart at the course can continue to do so for this season, but no new carts will be accepted. If a golfer used to keep a cart at the course and left, he or she will not be allowed to store their cart there any more.

"This is a business," Michele Russo said at the last commission meeting. "We're supposed to be moving the city forward and that's what I'm doing is moving the golf course forward into the right direction. We're not just here to let everybody ride and play for free."

The commission has scheduled an open house for Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. for people to come in, pay their fees, and mingle. Paperwork about the changes will be distributed and the commissioners will be available to answer any questions the public might have. A golf membership will be raffled.

Raffle tickets will be free and each attendant will be given one.