MERIDEN — Members of the City Council’s finance committee advanced city officials’ request to replace the tent at the municipal-owned Hunter Memorial Golf Club and install a new patio at the site.
Officials said the estimated $60,000 cost of that request would be covered by revenue surpluses the golf club had generated during the past fiscal year. The City Council is expected to vote later this month on a requested budget transfer to cover the proposal’s cost.
More than a year ago, the council had voted to table a decision regarding a proposal to construct a banquet hall on the golf club property, next to Violi’s Restaurant. Because the council did not take action on the proposal within 90 days after tabling it, the proposal did not move forward.
Tom DeVaux, superintendent of Hunter Golf Club, told finance committee members Tuesday night that the cost of replacing the existing tent, which is about 60 feet by 40 feet, and constructing an adjacent patio would be covered by revenue the club has generated.The patio would be 20 feet wide by 60 feet long and would be built by the Parks and Recreation and Engineering departments.
Members of the committee and Mayor Kevin Scarpati asked DeVaux questions about the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I know we’re increasing projections on the revenue side… Do you still expect we will come in in the black at the golf course this year?” Scarpati asked.
“We will have a good year this year. We will definitely come in in the black,” DeVaux responded.
While council members were previously divided on the banquet facility proposal, which had a significantly higher price tag, finance committee members supported the request to replace the current tent.
Michael Carabetta said replacing the tent is “a better solution” in part because its costs are covered by the club’s own funds.
“The patio will add to the look and feel of the tent and I fully support it,” Carabetta said, prior to the committee’s vote.
A day later, Carabetta said he didn’t believe the proposed banquet facility would net enough revenue to cover its expense.
“The old tent was tattered and worn and it didn’t look great. With the expanded patio, we’ll be able to get larger tournaments. It will look a lot nicer. It’s a nice addition. With them using their own revenue and not bonding any money it just makes more sense,” Carabetta said.
DeVaux said his hope is that the cost will not exceed $60,000. The cost to replace the tent would be $37,000, plus an estimated $2,500 for the patio work. Another $8,000 will cover electrical work, with air conditioning upgrades expected to be the remainder of the cost.
DeVaux said Hunter and the Public Golf Commission are not reviewing any new requests for a banquet facility. He said the tent should have a life expectancy of roughly 10 years.
“I do think that the banquet facility would be a tremendous addition. But I also understand in today’s climate, it would be a burden to taxpayers. The golf commission realizes that,” DeVaux said.
City Councilor Michael Rohde, who chairs the finance committee, said Wednesday he would have preferred a structure more permanent than a tent. But he understood there wasn’t enough support.
“I think you’d have more options to do events there, if it were an actual building rather than a tent. This was debated at length and there just wasn’t enough support to finance it,” Rohde said.
Still, he considers the patio and replacement tent a workable solution.
“This should be nice, and putting the patio out back will allow a few more people to use the tent area,” Rohde said.