Wednesday, April 11, 2012

EVERY 20 YEAR BOND OR SO WE MAKE THE NEWS

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Farmington Woods Residents Consider Proposals To Improve Golf Course, Clubhouse

By BEAU BERMAN, FoxCT
The Hartford Courant
7:20 PM EDT, April 11, 2012


FARMINGTON — A battle is brewing at the Farmington Woods codominium complex as its residents are being asked to approve plans to make improvements to the community's golf course and clubhouse.

The complex's residents have long enjoyed a golf course and next-door clubhouse in their community, but the course's failing sprinkler system needs to be replaced and the clubhouse could use an update. So the condo association's board of directors is proposing borrowing a total of $4 million — $2 million for the course improvements and $2 million for the clubhouse renovation.


Over the 20-year life of the bonds, the complex would pay a projected $2.8 million in interest, bringing the total cost of the work to $6.8 million. The vote on the two proposals is scheduled for May 10.


Straddling the Farmington-Avon border, Farmington Woods is home to nearly 2,000 people, but fewer than 200 of them actually play golf. That's the argument some residents are making against the proposals that would fix the course and clubhouse and would increase the costs of living in the community. "I feel like they're asking us to bail out a losing business," said Amanda Barboza, a Farmington Woods resident.

Barboza is representative of the complex's changing demographic — young families who live here not for golf or the clubhouse — which have lost a combined $1.3 million over the past six years.

"The majority of us aren't golfers. I'm in Avon because my son is 2. I want him to go to Avon schools."


After the condo board announced the proposals at a December meeting, condo owner Lee Lagasse was upset. He started a blog to engage residents ahead of the May vote. "It's not making money and it's been losing money and they want the citizens to pick up the tab," he said. "It's just not right," Lagasse said.


But board President Irene Loretto, who has lived in Farmington Woods since 1975, sees it differently. "The golf course is very important to the community because it does enhance our property values," said Loretto, who fears that the course will fail and owners will sell their condos if the bonds are not approved.


Lagasse pointed to other failed or struggling courses in Woodbridge, New London and elsewhere. "What's going to ruin your property value is a golf course that's bleeding money and high condominium fees, which we have."

6 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more with you on this blog. Its absolutely insane to think that its orders of magnitude cheaper for me as a farmington woods resident to golf up the road on the public course than on the course in my backyard that I help pay for.

    No where in this proposal for investment is any incentive for residents who are on the fence about golfing. I might not mind the cost increase if they changed their resident golf policy to include discounted golfing any day of the week, and annual free golf vouchers(equivalent to the increase) . Its crazy to think this isn't already in place considering how much of this business we are supporting.

    Solution 1# Sell the business and club house to someone who knows how to run it. Get it off our back

    Solution #2 Shut it down and turn it into common lands as you said.

    There is little evidence looking at comparable units in the valley areas outside of farmington woods that the golf course itself brings any significant value to the community.

    Where is the business case here?

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  2. Replies
    1. Sky,
      There is none. It's all being done on a wing and a prayer by people who just can't come to grips with the fact that this phenomenon is not going to go away. Either sell the course or lease it, but don't leave residents who bought homes here with the understanding that the golf course was "self-sustaining" holding the bag. At the Public Hearing a golf committee member tried to minimize the expense of the course to residents, which he miscalculated at $100/yr. (It's actually closer to $200 not counting the $360/yr in restaurant minimums or the additional $200 that the bonds would cost me for my small unit.)His take was that it amounted to a couple of fill-ups at the Shell station in Unionville. I wonder, if I asked him to fill my gas tank a couple of times this year would he be OK with that?

      Delete
  3. Didn't the residents buy the condos with full knowledge that they had to support the golf course? Restaurant minima and that?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dave,

    When we bought in 1999 we were told that the golf operation was "self-supporting" and were never told that the district was paying off a 20 year $1M bond. We didn't learn about that until a few years later. We did know about the restaurant minimum which was $20. per month at the time, but the clubhouse was also only open 10 months a year. It has slowly worked its way up to $30. per month and we are charged that 12 months per year. So residents here contribute $390K upfront every year to the club and they still can't make a profit. I've talked to a lot of new residents who were never told about the failing golf operation even though they've been losing money for close to seven years now. Besides the club committee chairman has been quoted as saying that they only strive for break even or a slight loss. How can they have this philosophy when residents are giving themselves so much seed money. It's called crony capitalism.

    ReplyDelete
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