Michael J. Wozniak: Urges South Hadley to keep Ledges Golf Club open

  • seb_ra

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Urges South Hadley to keep Ledges open

The recent news articles which discuss the possible closing of the Ledges Golf Club has put the next golf season in financial jeopardy (“Town looks for savings as Ledges Golf Club bleeds money,” Sept. 28).

League and tournament decisions are being made for next year. Also on the short-term horizon is the one- year $572,000 International Golf Maintenance contract that runs from December 2017 to December 2018 and is up for renewal.

I would counter those who advocate that the town take over the maintenance of the Ledges, and say that’s a bad idea. IGM owns the equipment which the town would have to buy and the last thing we need in town is more staff on the payroll with the associated costs of health insurance and retirement benefits.

In regards to staffing, there will be a savings going forward due to the terminations of the golf pro and the restaurant manager. In fiscal year 2018, the Ledges is still responsible for the partial salaries of those individuals along with unemployment costs, but we will start to realize a $96,000 annual savings going forward in fiscal year 2019.

The Valley View Grill is another issue that needs to be addressed. In the four years prior to fiscal year 2017, the restaurant had an average nominal profit of $27,000. In fiscal year 2017, the restaurant sustained a $35,000 loss. As a municipality, we are forced to pay a minimum wage of $11 per hour for wait staff and $15 per hour for cooks and the town is also on the hook for unemployment benefits. Subcontracting this out would lower the risk of a loss on the food and beverage side and should be strongly considered.

The town is still required to pay off the annual $345,910 debt and interest payment going forward until 2028 whether the Ledges is closed or remains open. The bottom line is that the town is stuck between a rock and the proverbial hard place.

The Ledges is every bit as valuable as its parks, walking trails and bike trails. The Golf Commission is asking the Select Board for the time and authority to get the Ledges back in the black. If the Ledges is closed, we have zero chance of making an operational profit.

We also need a quick resolution to this matter so as not to further jeopardize the financial operations for the next golf season.

Michael J. Wozniak

South Hadley

The writer is a member of the South Hadley Golf Commission.