FLEMINGTON, NJ – In an action that was not a surprise, the Freeholders have voted to award a contract for building a new clubhouse on the county-owned Heron Glen Golf Course in Raritan Township.
The $2.1 million contract was awarded to A. B. Designs Contracting of Summit at the Freeholders' regular meeting Tuesday.
Freeholder Director John Lanza, who has said he ran for his office on the promise of building the clubhouse, said the plan was to “give the public a building that would continue to meet the current demands and to do it ... to minimize the cost while maximizing the benefit to those who use it.”
He said the cost “is well within the budget we set.” Lanza said of the 13 bidders for the project, A. B. Designs was the lowest most responsible bidder.
Lanza said county finance data showed revenue from the golf course “will more than offset the cost of this project,” a claim debated by Freeholder Rob Walton.
The fact that other counties have public golf courses and clubhouses “is simply not justification for us to have them, or to invest $2.1 million,” Walton said.
Walton insisted the golf course doesn’t make money, but is “$9 million in the red,” and he acknowledged he has been opposed to Heron Glen “from the beginning.”
Walton also objected to including a banquet hall as part of the clubhouse. “What does that have to do with recreational golf?” he asked. Deleting that from the plans would save “another $1.5 million easily on this project.”
Lanza said the “statistics cannot be rebutted ... this golf course generates an average, since its opening, of over $300,000 a year in positive cash flow to this county, which we use to put into our general fund.
“If you want to shut this golf course down tomorrow, you’re going to have to scramble to find $300,000 from someplace else,” said Lanza. “And where does it come from? It comes from the homeowners.”
At the meeting, Freeholders Suzanne Lagay, John King and Matt Holt said they had “no comment” about the plan.
The clubhouse was vigorously debated last year when the freeholders first began its design, with former freeholders speaking both in favor and in opposition to the plan.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include attribution regarding Lanza's promise of building the golf course during his freeholder campaign.