By ALISSA SCOTT
Laura Elmendorf is now contractually permitted to get back to work in the clubhouse as the city's municipal golf course concessionaire.
Mayor Ann Thane signed her contract in her office after a Common Council meeting Tuesday night -- a meeting during which the aldermen present unanimously granted Thane permission to do so.
Fifth Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero was absent because of health concerns, but has been in support of bringing Elmendorf back since her contract expired in January.
Two aldermen, with corporation counsel Gerard DeCusatis and former chairman Michael Bucciferro, met to negotiate the contract last week.
Thane hadn't signed it originally because she didn't like the length of the contract or the rent reduction proposed by Elmendorf.
During negotiations, they were able to agree upon a five-year agreement at $18,500 a year. They removed an automatic three-year extension that was to be looked at in the fourth year of the contract.
They also discussed brief language changes during a committee of the whole meeting in council chambers. After the meeting, Elmendorf said she was satisfied with the result.
"Yes," Elmendorf said when asked if she was happy. "Just wish it didn't take so long."
She said although they removed the extension, she and the city have a verbal agreement they will sit down and work something out.
"Similar to what they did with Riverlink [Park]," Elmendorf said. "Because that was one of my questions. How did they get their extension before it was up? Did they have an extension clause? Corporation counsel kind of made it seem like it wasn't necessary and that if we're all agreeable, we can probably create a new contract going forward."
Elmendorf said a rent reduction will allow her to hire a new full-time chef and people should be looking forward to new menu items and "different changes up there."
"Hopefully we'll get the other components of the course situated and we'll be ready for a good season," she said. "Let the snow melt and we'll be good to go."
During the committee meeting, Elmendorf mentioned a mold problem the city was going to help take care of but wouldn't discuss details after.
She said work hasn't started yet, as they were waiting for her contract to be signed, but hopefully next week crews can begin work.
Thane said she is relieved that this step is out of the way.
Joseph Merendo, the course's former golf pro, is still without a contract and without a job.
Thane vetoed his contract during the first meeting of the year, because she said it didn't support the city or the golfers. The council overrode her veto and passed a resolution granting deputy mayor Diane Hatzenbuhler authorization to sign Merendo's contract.
Though that resolution was passed, the contract has not been signed.
"We are meeting with his lawyer and the golf liaison and Joe later in the week," Thane said. "Hopefully we can come to some amenable agreement."
First Ward Alderman Edward Russo, golf commission liaison, said he is glad Elmendorf's contract has been signed, but now they have to take care of Merendo's.
"We're talking to her," Russo said of Thane, "but I don't think she's listening. Joe's meeting with me. He just wants this over with. The more she drags this out, the more it makes us look bad. And Joe. And the course. People are leaving. We should have all this worked out."
"One down; one to go," Russo said.