City Council, Golf Management Company Finally at Even Par
NEW BEDFORD — Despite being just around the corner, the recent blast of snowstorms this month has made golf season seem like a distant fantasy. However, those who frequent the Whaling City Golf Course may want to start thinking about pulling out the clubs.
In an 8-2 vote on Thursday, the City Council authorized the award of a contract between the City and W/S Golf Management to oversee the operation and management of the Whaling City Golf Course.
The vote solidifies a 10-year contract with W/S Golf Management that includes two additional five-year terms at the City's discretion.
Bruce Carlson, who owns and runs W/S Golf Management along with his wife, Susan, was relieved that the council voted to award his management company the contract, calling the past four meetings “a long process.” He says that he expects to begin working on the course within the next week or so, after all necessary paperwork is finalized.
“I can see how they might be frustrated, but we're straight shooters, we're going to do the job and they're not going to have to worry about us at all. I can promise you that,” Carlson said. “We're very happy it came out our way. We're going to do a great job for the City of New Bedford. We're going to make that golf course better. Everything will be much better with us in there.”
Council President Lina Morad and Ward Four Councillor Dana Rebeiro provided the two votes against authorizing the contract, arguing that it's a misuse of city funds that could be put to better use. They argue that City will lose money since it has to cover the operational costs of the course while only collecting a lease of $20,000 per year for the land the course sits on from W/S Golf Management.
“I'm concerned that it's actually a loss for the City for the next ten years because there are services that are going to be provided by the City that aren't going to be compensated for,” Morad told WBSM News. “I tried to change the contract and I think the Carlson's were open to it, but evidently the procurement laws don't allow that to happen, so we are now stuck with a contract where we're going to lose, in my opinion, at least $40,000 per year for the next ten years.”
Multiple councilors who voted to authorize the contract publicly expressed their reluctance in doing so.
Ward Two Councillor Maria Giesta was one of the eight councilors that voted to authorize the 10-year deal but ridiculed its conditions, saying, “I truly believe that the contract was written very poorly.”
“I am willing to give the Carlson's a chance. I want the people who are in charge of the RFP and the Mayor's Office to know that we will not let this happen again,” Giesta said. “We should have been given more time to discuss the issue, but I do agree that the Carlson's deserve a chance. I do want to see the golf course opened.”
The council also unanimously voted to establish a Special Committee on the Golf Course Oversight under Council President Linda Morad. The committee will consist of the City Solicitor, a member of the Park Board, and three to five sitting City Councillors, one of which being Ward Three Councillor Hugh Dunn.