Updated Friday, March 19. Under increasing time pressure, Mamaroneck Town and Mamaroneck Village are continuing to pursue the possible purchase of Hampshire Country Club with help from a non-profit land organization, but they are being stymied by the inability to schedule meetings with the club board.
Terence Nolan, senior project manager with the Trust for Public Lands, who has been working with the municipalities since mid-February, said “We believe the timing is critical to move ahead on this opportunity.” The club has substantial carrying costs it must cover, and faces increased expenses for spring maintenance.
However, Mr. Nolan reported, “We’ve had difficulties putting together meetings with the club board so we can get down to brass tacks on what a public acquisition might look like. There are a lot of ways to structure a project and before we go ahead, we would need to get all those i’s dotted and t’s crossed.”
Nor’easter Doesn’t Help
The March 13 nor’easter has pushed back the opening of all area golf courses and created its own set of headaches for Hampshire, which is impacted by tidal conditions. Large swaths of the course were underwater after the storm knocked out power to drainage pumps. “The whole of Orienta became a tidal basin,” said Mr. Stan Brettschneider, chairman of the the Hampshire board.
The club has been closed due to financial difficulties since December, but Mr. Brettschneider said, as of Wednesday, “we had personnel on site and due to this morning’s very low tide, we were able to evacuate a lot of the water.”
He reiterated his wish to move quickly on a sale. “We’re trying to finalize a sale that covers all liabilities pertaining to all debt – bank debt, taxes, payments to vendors and employees. I just want to settle this as soon as possible and move on.”
However, he was reluctant to comment on the status of negotiations over the club purchase. He deferred questions about possible meetings with the municipal boards to William V. Cuddy, broker with C.B. Richard Ellis, the exclusive agent for the club sale. Mr. Cuddy did not respond to numerous messages.
Update: Mr. Cuddy did reply on Friday morning, but said, “We’re not in a position to discuss the sale at this time.”
What The Trust For Public Land Could Do For Mamaroneck
On a deal as complicated as Hampshire – with a volunteer club board , two municipal boards and two sets of land use boards, Mr. Nolan believes the Trust for Public Land could greatly expedite the process and coordinate between the parties to put together a package that works for all sides.
“This is what TPL specializes in – we’ve been around since 1972 and we’ve done literally thousands of these kinds of projects, and I’ve been working with TPL for more than a decade,” Mr. Nolan told the Gazette. “These projects are often complicated, with lots of moving parts, but what we’re looking at here is similar to what we’ve done elsewhere. I’m confident we could help.”
Mr. Nolan said,” TPL does not charge a fee to the municipalities. We typically cover our costs by fundraising around the project.”
Among the services he could help with are: appraisals, environmental assessments, title search, and surveys, in addition to coordination on funding that might include local funds (bonding), cash, private donations and grants.
The possibility of splitting off part of the property for housing is still alive. This could be for a limited number of upscale homes or for acquisition by private properties that already border on the club.
“This is an economy where you only get opportunities like this,” said Mr. Nolan, echoing points made by Mamaroneck Village Mayor Norm Rosenblum and Mamaroneck Town Administrator Steve Altieri. “If this was 2004, the property would already have been sold to a developer.”
“People are thinking about their pocketbooks and economic situation, and it’s understandable that they’re cautious. But we have to take the long view,” said Mr. Nolan.