Commissioners Present: Carl Blanchard, Andrea Johnson, John Kissida, Wyn Morton, Anne O’Connell, Jeff Odell, David Valcourt
Others Present: Mark O’Brien, Peter Lombardi, Bill O’Brien, Bill Meehan, Donna Potts, Jane Samiotes and Jay Packett
THIS MEETING WAS HELD REMOTELY WITH AUDIO AND VIDEO RECORDED
Anne O’Connell called the meeting to order at 4:00 pm after reading remote meeting guidelines and procedures.
Update on Golf Course Finances (Mark O’Brien)
Before reporting on finances Mark reviewed a time line of course operations beginning with the shut down ordered by the Governor on March 16. The course was closed, no employees in any building, all work done remotely. On March 30 some maintenance staff were allowed to work on the course. On May 8 the course reopened to walking members only. On May 11 carts for those with disabilities okayed. On May 18 a more complete maintenance staff was approved. On May 21 guest play was added. On May 25 single rider carts and push carts were introduced. June 8 saw phase 2 approved. 12 minutes tee times, reservations for guests, outside dining, grab and go food, and 3 port-a-johns were implemented. Range and shop will open soon when staffing is completed. During this time Mark and staff sent out 14 emails keeping members up to date.
Mark wanted to let everyone know how much support he received from all town departments during this very difficult and changeable time. Often changes were approved with little or no notice. Many town employees made extraordinary efforts to help the course do all that was needed to follow all guidelines and keep all staff and customers safe. Mark noted names of departments and employees that had a hand in all that went on during the shut down and eventual reopening phases.
Mark reported that the expected deficit at month end which coincides with fiscal year end will only be $50,000. Initial projection was a deficit of $330,000. A big reason for this reduction is the number of new members.
Update and Review of Golf Course Operations
- Membership (Mark O’Brien). Mark reported that there have been 164 new members added in 2020. Of that number 95 are new non-resident members, 69 resident members and the remainder twilight and collegians. The number of new members and dollars generated are both larger than 2019.
- Current Operations (Mark O’Brien). Currently tee times are spaced 12 minutes apart. Mark is making sure that the reduced number of tee times will not affect how many tee times are available to members. The percentage of times will change but not the actual number that are available. Through June 15 monthly play is equal to 2019 and that is mostly member play.
- Trash Receptacles (Mark O’Brien). During phase 1 of the reopening no trash receptacles were allowed. Customers were instructed to take their trash with them at the end of the round. Not everyone did this. Mark has added some trash receptacles and put safety measures in place.
At the conclusion of Mark O’Brien’s report Peter Lombardi, Town Administrator, asked for a chance to add his thoughts. He wanted to recognize Mark, Jay and Steve for all of their efforts in getting the course back open and ensuring that all guidelines were adhered to. With some help help from the town each change was incorporated safely and quickly to get members back out on the course. Each commissioner added their kudos to a job well done under the most difficult circumstances.
Mark O’Brien announced that because our financial situation has improved dramatically a decision has been made to narrow the field of original candidates from 12 to 4. The process will go forward beginning in July with a decision made by early to mid September and start date negotiated.
During the search period the town has hired Steve Mann, a retired Superintendent, as a consultant to continually monitor the state and health of the course. He will co-ordinate ordering key supplies such as chemicals. Mark has arranged a site visit from an agronomist from the USGA who will look at the health of the turf overall as well as helping find ways to reduce nitrogen as outlined in the Pleasant Bay Reduction Act. Tom Flynn will arrange a spraying program utilizing product already in stock.
Peter Lombardi added that the search was put on hold because of a town hiring freeze on 4/1 due to financial situations. Those situations have improved and this important position can now be filled. Current maintenance employees will meet with candidates and their in-put considered.
Refund Requests (Anne O’Connell)
Refund policies for one and two year memberships were read. 3 written request were read. It was noted that only one of these had played any golf so 3 votes were taken: 2 full refunds (a one year, a 2 year) and a one year refund that reflected the cost of two rounds played that lessened balanced due.
Each of the 3 requests was voted upon. All motions were made by Jeff Odell, seconded by Carl Blanchard and resulted in 7-0 votes in favor of 2 full refunds and one adjusted refund.
Questions and comments from Associations (Bill O’Brien (Mens Golf Association), Donna Potts (Ladies 9-Hole), Jane Samiotes (Ladies 18-Hole), Bill Meehan (Liaison)
Bill O’Brien thanked Mark and his team for all of their hard work in getting us back on the golf course so quickly and so safely. Bill also thought that having the employees involved in the Superintendent search was a good idea.
Jane Samiotes wanted to add her thanks and appreciation for Mark and team.
Donna Potts expressed gratitude for Mark and his team.
Bill Meehan commented on the impressive numbers that Mark reported and he was happy to take these to the next finance committee.
Update on the Proposed Communications to Members ( John Kissida/David Valcourt)
Anne O’Connell thanked John and Dave for the draft email.
During the polling of the commissioners it was suggested that during the discussion of the financials that Mark O’Brien be recognized for the huge decrease in expected deficit at year end. It was proposed that this type of communication by sent on a regular basis. John Kissida asked Mark if the divot mix mentioned in the proposed email had been introduced. Mark promised it would be out next week.
Update on Solar Project(Jeff Odell)
Jeff reported that the amendments to the improved financial arrangement were being reviewed by the Town Council and test borings were being done.
Mark reported that John Gammon from CFD was at the site and talked about starting staging in September. The permitting process has begun. The project should be ready to go in late September or early October. The window agreed upon was to start in late October because the range will have to be closed for the year when it gets under way.
Peter Lombardi agreed that once they gain approval the company will be eager to get going. However we must ensure that the timeline works best for us.
Jeff added that with a November start the expectation is an April connection date. That is important because the fee is paid to us upon connection.
Peter was fairly certain that payment would be a lump sum payment upon connection.
Additional Questions and comments from Associations (Bill O’Brien (Mens Golf Association), Donna Potts (Ladies 9-Hole), Jane Samiotes (Ladies 18-Hole), Bill Meehan (Liaison)
Bill reported that the drink cart was driving too close to the greens. Mark will communicate to Sean.
Bill asked about drinking water on the course. Mark responded that after speaking to Town Health Director it was decided that there would be no water containers on the course at this time.
Donna asked if customers could make purchases from the pro shop while it is closed. Mark said yes, after a phone call a remote sale can be arranged.
Minutes from meeting 5/19/20 with one correction:
Misspell Jeff Odell
Motion to approve corrected minutes Jeff O’Dell
Seconded by Carl Blanchard
Topics that the Chair did not Reasonably Anticipate ( Anne O’Connell)
Mark wanted everyone to know that cup lifters had been ordered and will be in next week.
Peter Lombardi reported that future meetings through the summer will be held remotely. A tentative schedule is being worked on. Meetings will continue to adhere to Open Meeting Laws.
A motion to adjourn was made by Jeff O’Dell, seconded by Carl Blanchard, and passed 7-0.
Meeting was adjourned at 5:15pm.