BERLIN - The Public Golf Commission is up and running, having held its first meeting Thursday in the Community Center at Town Hall.
Peter DeFazio, a parks and recreation commissioner and president of the Timberlin Men’s Club, was elected chairman over Jim Norton by a 5-2 vote.
Norton was then elected vice chairman 4-3 over Jim Bugella.
Dana Borges, an independent consultant, was hired to be recording secretary, a job she also does for the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The golf commission, which was formed after residents complained to town officials about how the golf course was maintained, then discussed the financials of the course, including a capital improvement plan Golf Director Jonathan Zuk has.
Bridge reconstruction, cart path repair, drainage, work around the clubhouse including tree pruning, lightning protection on trees and work on the entrance were among the ideas discussed.
Also discussed was the funding of those capital improvement plans through a $1 to $2 additional charge to the rates golfers pay to use the course.
Member Richard Nappi asked about working the new fee into the rates.
“Unfortunately I think if we were going to charge another $3 and not label it ...that’s going into general revenue, then we have to go ask for that money back,” said Zuk.
He added that, with the current financial climate, it may be hard to get that money back by not being in the special account Zuk worked with the Town Council recently to establish.
About $41,000 sits in the capital improvement account now, with roughly $7,000 generated a year.
Following an explanation of the bidding procedures enacted by the town, which require going out to bid for any projects over $10,000 and certain stipulations on projects costing less, commission members discussed sharing costs with other towns.
During the discussion on rates, DeFazio said that Timberlin has about 40,000 starts a year - people starting on the first and ninth holes - which is well above the numbers of municipal golf courses in New Britain, Meriden and West Hartford.
“We’re screaming, ‘Raise the rates,’” said Nappi. “People like coming to our course and playing our course. They’ll pay the extra $5. It’s a desirable course, can’t forget about that.”
Marc Bayram, the course golf pro, noted that GolfNow, an online booking source, has been a great help. The service helped bring in an additional $40,000 in revenue by offering one time slot for golfers to book online.
“It’s huge,” he said.
The commission also discussed updating its golf carts, since the current lease is entering its final year, as well as maintenance of the course in preparation of winter.
“I thought it was great,” said Zuk of Thursday’s meeting, adding that he didn’t think the Parks and Recreation Commission, which previously oversaw the course, didn’t necessarily do a bad job.
“I think there will be a little bit of a learning curve,” Zuk said. “These guys are focused on the course.”
The commission will meet at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @CPaullinNBH.