FREDON TOWNSHIP, NJ – The township committee disappointed some residents of the Bear Brook development at the meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9.
The 10 residents who attended the meeting hoped the governing body would purchase the maintenance equipment for the golf course.
Mayor Carl Lazzaro assured them it was the committee’s intention to spend $75,000 on the equipment to either use to maintain the golf course, or, if someone else took it over, to sell at a profit. However, he said, the auctioneer who is handling the sale of Bear Brook equipment insisted on an additional $32,000 to cover lost profit from the sale to the municipality.
Committeewoman Sandra Coltelli said the municipality was not on solid ground purchasing equipment without going through the bidding process, but they were willing to risk it.
Lazzaro said, “Our first intention was to find a way to salvage the golf course for the entire community.”
However once the $32,000 was added on, they decided it was not a good idea.
Bear Brook resident Peter Devito said “$32,000 sounds like a small fee for what we are going to lose.”
He pointed out residents of Bear Brook pay a premium in taxes for the golf course that no longer exists. Lazzaro pointed out the homeowner’s association’s last appeal changed that. Committeeman Douglas White pointed out there are 3,200 people in the township, with only about 160 in the development, and the committee has to be concerned with everyone.
White said the committee discussed the matter with golf course experts and were willing to take on the risk of taking care of the golf course until someone bought it and turned a profit.
He said if a new buyer replaced the kitchen the golf course might be profitable.
Devito said one of the major problems with the course was there was no way for a golfer to get a sandwich, or even a drink of water.
“They took out the ball washers. I don’t know why. They took away the water coolers,” he added.
Darrell Kelly of the residents’ board asked the committee to “look for any alternative” to having the equipment sold off the property. He noted the economy is getting better and more golfers may be attracted to the course.
Ernest Helleren, a 10-year resident of Bear Brook, said under the right management the course could be successful. He pointed out sometimes maintenance of the course was spotty and, worse, there was no requirement to join the club. “When we bought we expected to be told we would have to be members.” The owners, Kitson and Partners, would have made more money with that requirement.
Kitson bought the development 10 years ago after several “villas,” free-standing ranch houses, had been built by the original owner. Kitson added 42 single-family detached homes to the total of 44 small villas. They also expanded the golf course from nine to 18 holes.
Kitsen owes between $500,000 and $600,000 in back taxes, but the tax lien was purchased by a group of investors, Lazzaro said. He said the township has its money and the investors believe eventually someone will buy the development and pay them, at 18 percent interest.