Golf Course Buy on Ballot
TYNGSBORO -- Voters heading to the polls at the Annual Town Election on May 14 will be met with a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion ballot question centered on the Tyngsboro Country Club along Pawtucket Blvd.
“The ballot question will allow the town the ability to borrow the full amount necessary to purchase the country club, however, we’re pursuing options to reduce the long-term borrowing costs,” Town Administrator Matt Hanson said recently.
Special Town Meeting passed an article last November to borrow money to purchase the club currently co-owned by Tammy Garau and her brother, Bobby Spindell. The passage was contingent upon a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion question passing a town-wide ballot vote at the upcoming May town election.
“It’s not a permanent override,” Hanson said. “It’s a debt exclusion for a specific purpose.”
Garau last year said she and her brother were under agreement with Toll Brothers for the company to build a community for adults 55 and older. Tyngsboro, however, has the right of first refusal because the property on which the country club stands is under the state’s Chapter 61B program. The program gives preferential tax treatment to landowners who maintain their property as open space for recreation.
David Bauer, division president of Toll Brothers, said in an email Monday that the company is still in an agreement to purchase the property.
“This agreement contemplates the 204 home community that was previously presented at various town meetings,” Bauer wrote. “As you know, the Town has a right of refusal on the property, so we are awaiting a final determination on whether or not the Town will purchase.”
Town officials last year wrestled with what to do about the approximately 85-acre property. A public session held last October revealed that many residents were interested in having the town buy the country club. Many who spoke expressed a desire to not only maintain the open space but, in turn, preserve Tyngsboro’s small-town charm.
“Would we ultimately like to see it stay as a golf course because it’s been in my family for so long? I would,” Garau said Monday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s just too bad that we’ve gone through all this with Toll (Brothers). I feel bad for them and I know they’ve spent a ton of money doing all their processes. If we could have avoided that, I would be in a much better place.”
Hanson recently said he informed Toll Brothers that the town is only working and pursuing the purchase with the property owners. He told The Sun that the town administration is also looking at the potential for redeveloping, leasing or selling of small portions of the property that aren’t being used by the golf course.
If voters vote ‘no’ on the ballot question, Hanson said town administration would have to engage in a different type of discussion with the landowner.
“We would have to go back to the table to see if we can come up with some type of plan with the property owner,” he said.
In the annual and special Town Meetings on May 21, there are two warrant articles centered on the Tyngsboro Country Club. According to a draft that’s been uploaded onto the town website, below is a brief description of each:
* One article looks to see if the town will vote to raise, appropriate, transfer from available funds, borrow, or otherwise provide a sum of money not to exceed $4 million to be expended under the direction of the Board of Selectmen to purchase, take by eminent domain or otherwise acquire the country club.
* The second looks to see if the town will appropriate a sum of money, not to exceed $850,000 to purchase 48 and 56 Sherburne Ave. These are parcels adjacent to the Tyngsboro Country Club, according to the warrant.
The potential purchase of the Tyngsboro Country Club, as well as the warrant articles for the annual Town Meeting, will be discussed at an information session at 7 p.m. on May 7 at Old Town Hall, 10 Kendall Road.
Garau, who has been hoping to retire, said she wants this “to be done.” When she’s out, Garau she’s often approached by townspeople wanting to know what is in store for the country club.
“Everybody thinks I have a crystal ball. I don’t,” Garau said. “I can’t tell how this is going to go.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.