During a recent Amsterdam Common Council meeting, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis told those who believe the makeup of the city Golf Commission is “illegal” can bring a lawsuit against the city at any time.
A small group has decided to take him up on that offer.
Amsterdam town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza is a member of that five-person group who hired Ronald Schur, of the Law Office of Ronald R. Schur Jr. in Mayfield, to file an injunction against the city.
The contract of golf professional Joseph Merendo is set to expire by the month’s end, and the city has already canceled a provision that allows it become a month-to-month agreement until another contract is signed.
Because of what has been described as the under-performance of the course, and at the request of the Common Council, the commission has considered restructuring its framework based on a three-prong system: Replace the professional, replace the concessionaire, and replace the maintenance department.
The commission has released requests for proposal nationwide to find those replacements, but DiMezza and the group are fighting to have that process halted until the legality of the Golf Commission can be resolved.
“If there are illegal members of the commission, then they had no right to recommend going out for RFPs for the pro shop,” DiMezza wrote in an e-mail to Schur.
The city charter stipulates that committees and boards are to be filled with city residents. If a nonresident of the city is appointed to a city office, that appointment will require a majority vote of the council for approval.
Currently, there are two commissioners who live in the town of Amsterdam, not the city.
During the council meeting when DeCusatis suggested filing a lawsuit, he explained why he feels the noncity members don’t pose a legal threat.
"The commission is basically advisory in nature," DeCusatis said. "It doesn't wield municipal authority, so there's no requirement that it be a city resident."
DeCusatis said one could make an argument about whether the golf commission has municipal authority "if you wanted to."
Current pro Joseph Merendo first worked at Muni in 1972 when he returned from serving in the Vietnam War. Aside from a brief four-year hiatus, during which he switched courses, he's been there ever since.
Countless “Joe the Pro” fans have appeared at Common Council meetings to speak during the public participation portion to voice their support.
One fan, Sandy “Rogo” Roginski, has distributed two lists of signed petitions citing pledges of current golfers who will not return to the course if Merendo is no longer the professional.
“Joe Merendo has been a great asset, the golf course is Amsterdam’s greatest asset and it should be run properly,” Christopher Sapia, another member of the group, said. “It should be done legally. Do we feel we are absolutely right in what we’re contending? Absolutely we do. And I believe our attorney does also.”