By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff
The Amsterdam Municipal Golf Commission will answer questions Mayor Michael Villa posed after members had sought guidance from local officials about a plan for the golf course’s future.
Golf Commission Vice Chairman Matt Beck discussed Tuesday a memo Villa had sent to members for their feedback on the golf course. Beck said Villa asked the golf commission to answer what has worked at Muni, what needs to be improved, any recommended changes, if the course could be marketed outside the area, and whether it could partner with local companies for outings.
Beck asked each golf commission member to answer the questions so an overall response from the commission could be sent to the mayor and city council. He said the golf commission would likely discuss its response at its next meeting.
The mayor’s memo comes after most golf commission members last month appeared reluctant to develop a plan for the course’s future before hearing from city officials.
Beck said Villa’s memo clarifies the role of the golf commission.
“Prior to this current mayor and council there was a lot of power in the golf commission. That was removed and that’s when a lot of the people on the former commission resigned,” Beck said. “All I was looking at [Alderman Rodney Wojnar] and the mayor for was to say that all happened, before we get back into those circumstances help us understand what you want from us. I think the mayor’s memo clarified that.”
The golf commission had more power prior to when the current administration in March 2016 approved an ordinance limiting the commission’s authority to only making recommendations about fees and rates to the mayor and Common Council. Commission members had previously held total authority over setting rates and fees.
Pamela Ritter, who served as golf commission chairwoman, and Robert Karutis, who served as vice chairman, each resigned from the commission on the same day about a month before the ordinance was adopted.
The ordinance also changed the terms of golf commission members to be co-terminous with the appointing mayor instead of being five-year, staggered terms.
Last month, commission members requested for city officials to provide clear goals regarding the course, such as pursuing improvements to the course and clubhouse or improving the courses revenues.
Golf Commission member Peter Bylina said Monday the commission would seek to enact cost saving measures and not increase membership and greens fees prices for next season.
In July, golf commission members expressed they wanted guidance from city officials about the golf professional contract for next season to avoid an agreement being hastily reached.
About a month before the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course opened on April 19, aldermen authorized Mayor Michael Villa to sign a contract with Golf Professional Joseph Merendo before the agreement was finalized. The contract with Merendo was only for this season.
A request for proposals is planned to be issued for next season’s golf professional contract.
Beck said Monday that Golf Commission Chairman Matthew Ossenfort is “adamant” to conduct a survey to gain feedback from all golf course members. Ossenfort was absent from the commission’s meeting Monday.
Beck said Ossenfort and other commission members are concerned the loudest voices are often the only voices heard, so changes are made based on feedback from a small amount of golf course members.
“We make changes based on the five, 10, 20, or 30 people who complain the loudest when the other members don’t mind it and they like it,” Beck said. “We really should start to think about the majority rules — not the loudest voice.”
Due to the Columbus Day holiday, the next Golf Commission meeting is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the annex adjacent to city hall.