The Mitchell Administration's proposal to locate an advanced manufacturing campus at the Whaling City Golf Course is scheduled to come before the New Bedford City Council's Committee on City Property tonight. Here is hoping councilors do not "Phillips Avenue" the thing out of fear of angering some voters.

You may recall that in 2019 the city council rejected a perfectly sound plan, the only plan for rehabbing the former Phillips Avenue School. The developer wanted to convert the structure into apartments. It would have placed the property back on the tax rolls, provided much-needed housing units, and renovated a blighted, crumbling eyesore.

The city council, faced with opposition to the project by a handful of very loud neighbors, rejected the project. The neighbors had a city-owned parking lot for off-street parking and didn't want to surrender it. The building remains a mess today with no prospects for development, and the city cannot afford to remove it.

There are a handful of people who like the existing golf course as it is. It is like their own private country club. They don't want to see a new golf course replace what they have because more people might choose to use it, and costs might increase.

The golf course property is for the benefit of all citizens and not a select few. Mayor Jon Mitchell and his administration have a plan that would provide jobs, tax revenue, and yes, a new golf course at the site. The project could result in a more stable tax rate for property owners while providing new, good-paying jobs with benefits.

The council needs to do what's best for all of New Bedford and not just a handful of folks who would like things to remain the way they are. Councilors cannot "Phillips Avenue" the golf course project. They must do what's best for all of their constituents, not just a few.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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