By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Fall Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved the King Rail Reserve Golf Course clubhouse project last week.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan gave an overview of Article 10. He said the $900,000 project will be funded by a $400,000 donation that National Development gave the town a number of years ago for golf-related expenses that was placed in the town’s Sale of Real Estate account. He said the remaining $500,000 will come from Free Cash from the Golf Enterprise Account.
“Lynnfield runs a business called Lynnfield Golf,” said Dolan. “It’s an enterprise fund, which means golf revenue has to stay within golf. Golf revenue cannot be used for teachers or firefighters. Over the last several years, golf has boomed in town. We are at the point where we are now seeing Free Cash, which is more revenue than we anticipated. We decided to reinvest in this business.”
Dolan recalled that the Select Board hit the brakes on the clubhouse project five years ago because of its cost. He said Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford established a goal this year to have the clubhouse project finally completed.
“King Rail is a very unique and beautiful golf course,” said Dolan. “The fact is driving down that dusty road and seeing a dirty trailer makes it look like a construction site. It’s an unacceptable business model both short-term and long-term.”
The clubhouse will include a pro shop and two restrooms. There will also be an office for the course’s manager as well as an utility/storage closet. There will be four tables that will each be able to accommodate 10 people inside the clubhouse. The clubhouse will have an outdoor patio that will be overlooking the course as well.
“There will be no liquor served at this time,” said Dolan.
While the road leading to the clubhouse will be paved, the clubhouse’s parking lot will consist of gravel due stormwater management reasons. King Rail’s golf carts will be stored in a fenced in area.
“This money will not impact any other municipal service,” said Dolan. “We rely on a lot of golf groups and clubs. We feel that in order to sustain the viability of this business, we must offer them and the employees a clean and welcoming site. The abutters also deserve a site that doesn’t collect dust and looks like a construction site that didn’t get finished. I believe our architect has designed a modest and practical building.”
The Select Board and Finance Committee both voted to recommend Article 10.
Speaking as a resident, Finance Committee Vice Chair Tom Kayola said he was “struggling philosophically with how the town owns golf courses.”
“We own and operate two different golf courses,” said Kayola. “They are extremely profitable, but the way the Golf Enterprise Fund works is that none of that money can come back into the town. To me, golf course operations are not a core public service. It’s not schools or public safety. It’s great that the golf courses are cash flow positive and are making so much money. There is over $800,000 in the Golf Retained Earnings Fund. I would like to find a way to get that money back into the town somehow. For that reason, I am against pouring this money into a clubhouse.”
Colonial Village resident Sal Yerardi, who is the president of L.I.F.E.’s Board of Directors, noted that the development abuts King Rail.
“It has been six years since the trailer was placed on the site to act as a temporary clubhouse,” said Yerardi. “The unsightly conditions and lack of improvements at the golf course experienced by the residents of Colonial Village have been well-documented. It’s important that the improvements to the site layout be implemented not only for the present residents, but the future residents of Colonial Village who are on our waiting list.”
Colonial Village resident Mary Tashjian said a number of golfers often drink, use profanity, loiter and go the bathroom outside after the course closes. She asked what is the town going to do to stop that behavior once the clubhouse opens.
“One of the issues we have at the golf course, as you very well know, is that people have no place to sit after they finish,” said Dolan. “What they end up doing is popping open their trunks, hanging around and drinking alcohol. There is a lot of chaos.”
Dolan said Golf Director Donnie Lyons and his staff will be undertaking security measures to stop the behavior. He said the town is looking into installing security cameras as well.
“We want to ensure that we don’t allow any alcoholic beverages and people don’t loiter by their cars,” said Dolan. “They either have to go home or come to the assigned area. We have to do a better job ensuring there is no profanity, no alcoholic beverages being drunk and there is no loitering.”
After the discussion, Fall Town Meeting approved the clubhouse project by a 205-43 vote.