Harbor Links Golf Course Outing Compromise


On Wednesday, March 1, the Town of North Hempstead hosted a supplement town board meeting. There were only four resolutions on the agenda, and all except one passed unanimously. The fourth resolution authorized “certain outings at Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington and authorized an amendment to the harbor links golf course fee schedule.”
Harbor Links director James Viras handles golf outings and tournament schedules. He attended the supplemental meeting to explain the additional outings and fee amendments.
Mondays at Harbor Links are set aside for outings. When an outing is booked, the golf course is closed to the public until the outing is over. With all of the Mondays booked during the golfing season (from the second week in April through the beginning of October,) Harbor Links is asking to add one additional event per week, with an exception of four weeks in the season where a third outing is booked.
“We tried our best with some of the smaller groups of people, groups that are less than a hundred players, we are going to make them tee off a little bit later in the day to accommodate some players in the morning,” said Viras. “If it’s a one o’clock (outing), approximately 40 people would be able to get out in the morning. And then, as soon as any outing is done, we always reopen to the public in the afternoon.”
Regarding the rate amendments, Harbor Links is looking to offer a senior rate on Fridays. Usually, on Fridays, just the resident rate, non-resident rate and twilight rate are offered.
“The resident rate on a Friday is $81 and the senior rate of $57 would be available all day on Friday,” said Viras. “It is a big difference.”
Since the meeting on March 1 was a supplemental meeting, not many residents that are passionate about the golf course outings were able to make it. The ones that did attend were not in favor of adding more outings because it takes away play time from the regulars who attend the golf course.
Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte spoke on behalf of many concerned residents in the community. “In the Dec. 15 board meeting, Supervisor Jennifer DeSena stated that we do hear tremendous feedback from the community that a public golf course that is being paid for with taxpayer money should not be having private outings multiple times.”
Supervisor DeSena recognizes that many charitable organizations in the Town of North Hempstead rely on hosting outings at Harbor Links because it is more affordable than a private course.
“Some of these organizations could not afford to have an outing at one of our country clubs. So for some of them, this is their only outing, it’s the only source of funds for the work that they do. These are our chambers of commerce, our Kiwanis groups, our Lions clubs,” said Supervisor DeSena. “So we knew that we were going to be working with the operator, as I said. To manage this so that it’s fair to our residents. So our residents have the chance to use our course, but we cannot completely shut our eyes to what has been the use of the course for many years.”
Councilwoman Dalimonte wanted to wait to discuss the Harbor Links outings at the March 14 town board meeting because people would have time to research and prepare to discuss the outings.
Viras said, “The longer we wait, the harder it is for us operationally at the golf course. So we have all the people, these 26 different hosts, that are looking for an answer. And if they’re told yes in two weeks, then that’s fine, and they’ll continue with us. If they are told no, now they need to go try to secure another golf course. So obviously, the longer that they wait the more difficult it’s going to be for all of those groups to find another golf course. Now I know that’s not necessarily the golf course’s issue, but just to try to keep relations with our customers I want to try to give them as much notice as possible.”
Councilwoman Lurvey was hesitant to reverse the recently passed decision from December. “I’m worried that other outings are going to come up, and I really hope that they don’t, because if I vote yes on this, then this is already going back from what we approved in December. But I do like that there has been a decrease from 62 to 45 outings. I think that represents a compromise.”
Councilwoman Dalimonte expressed her desire for greater community input. “I don’t think we should eliminate all of the extra outings,” she said. “But I do think that we should work with the golfers, the residents who actually pay taxes for this golf course. I think that’s important. I really think if we sat around the table with them. I think that they really would want to compromise.” Ultimately, the resolution passed, with Dalimonte’s vote as the only nay.
At the March 14th town meeting, residents took advantage of the public comment period to voice their displeasure with the decision. Ben Marzouk of Great Neck spoke passionately about how the outing schedule was disruptive to public access to the course, because Harbor Links is closed when an outing takes place. While there are often open hours before and after, he contended that it is not enough time to finish a round. In response to the idea of the new outing schedule being a compromise, Marzouk said “I don’t think these guys are really happy about that. I don’t think this group is very happy. I don’t think the town, paying for taxes and not being accessible to the town members or the residents, that’s happy. You say they’re happy, but we’re not happy.”
William Hohauser of Port Washington, who served on the first advisory board when the golf course was constructed in 1998, addressed the original arrangement for the outing schedule. “From the very outset, there was specific discussions about the number of outings that were going to be heard. And any inference to the contrary is just false. Specifically, we’re supposed to have one outing per week and that was on Mondays only … The outings remained constant for 20 years. You had one outing per week. That’s it.”
While there are no plans to revisit the issue, Councilwoman Lurvey did state that she wanted more community input in future decisions. “You know, having talked to many of you, of the golfers, that were unhappy after the March 1 meeting. It’s become clear to me that the process needs to improve that the members of the Harbor Links advisory committee have a lot to offer. And I’m asking this board as we move ahead towards planning, you know for the next year, I think it’s critical that we involve these experienced and committed residents of the town that serve on the Harbor Links Advisory Committee, which is part of the contract for harbor links, to give input on matters before they come to a vote.”


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