Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

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Mam’k Partners With Trust for Public Land on Hampshire Purchase

According to a joint release from Mamaroneck Village and Mamaroneck Town on March 11, the municipalities are working with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to pursue the possible purchase of the Hampshire Country Club, which is seeking a buyer.

At the same time, private developers are also looking at the property, which has a list price of $14.9 million.

Mamaroneck Is Optimistic

“We’re very hopeful the purchase will happen,” said Mamaroneck Town Administrator Steve Altieri, administrator for Mamaroneck Town. “We’re hopeful the Trust for Public Land will be able to assist,” said Mamaroneck Village Manager Richard Slingerland. “They bring their expertise, possible funding sources, and their organizational resources. They can also help negotiate a price.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to  “conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.” It can help the municipalities negotiate and structure a land purchase and also help secure federal, state or private grants.

The municipalities have been in joint negotiations with the Hampshire Club board of directors since the end of last year. The 66-year-old club ceased operating in December and has retained only a skeleton crew for basic maintenance. In January, the club announced it was seeking a buyer, and in February it announced an asking price of $14.9 million.

Now, as spring approaches, the club is anxious to firm up a deal so it can assure that funds are available to keep the grounds in shape.

“The season is of as much concern to the Village and the Town as it is to the club,” said Mr. Slingerland. “We are concerned that the club is maintained in good quality and condition, regardless of who buys it, so there is no negative impact on the neighbors.”

Asked to predict if or when a sale might occur, Mr. Altieri indicated he could not comment. “It’s a real estate deal.”

Larchmont Village Not In on Negotiations

Last month, Larchmont Village Mayor Liz Feld said her request to attend meetings on the purchase had been turned down because no part of the club is in Larchmont. The property, 116 acres between Orienta and Hommocks Road, lies mostly in Mamaroneck Village with a small portion in Mamaroneck Town.

Mayor Feld raised the issue of a possible loss of property tax revenue if the club were to be bought by the municipalities. “This will certainly be an issue in their decision making,” she said.

Asked about tax implications, Mr. Altieri said “in the scheme of things, if you consider the entire property tax levy, the income produced by the club  – around $300,000 – is relatively small.” Further, he said, there is going to be a rather thorough analysis of the income possibilities – and the taxes get mixed into that analysis.”

A possible option is partitioning off a few acres for housing, which would then generate property tax revenue. Most of the acres, however, are in a flood zone and not practical for residential development.

Competition From Private Developers?

The municipalities are not the only entities interested in the property. A number of developers have approached the Gazette confidentially looking for information. At the right price – considerably less than $14 million –the developers thought the property could remain a golf facility.

Private and public interest in purchasing the Hampshire Country Club is ongoing, judging by messages received by the Larchmont Gazette this week. However, spring maintenance season is fast approaching, which puts pressure on the club and potential purchasers to firm up a deal so funds are available to work on the golf course.

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19 comments to Mam’k Partners With Trust for Public Land on Hampshire Purchase

  • Taxpayor

    “Now, as spring approaches, the club is anxious to firm up a deal so it can assure that funds are available to keep the grounds in shape”

    I hope that the small-town negotiators (an oxymoron, alas) understand that time is on their side : there is no rush to get to an agreement from the village side, there is no reason to even consider the $14.9Mio (could have been $149Mio for all the broker knows) number pulled out of a hat by the broker.

    The CURRENT owner has to maintain the property. It costs them money, they have no revenue. Start negotiation at $1 to take it out of their hands.

    • LocalGuy

      A lowball offer initiates nothing. If there is almost $9,000,000 of debt, any offer below that would be of no interest to the Owners. Before the secured creditor can accept a lower offer, it has to obtain title, by foreclosure or otherwise.

  • The property would have sold fast at 10 million as a private golf course.

    • LocalGuy

      Hampshire has had a loyal membership group, a nice property and adequate capital for several years, but couldn’t make it. Why do you think another private club, starting with zero members, can make it at any price?

  • Bemused

    There is space here for 10-30 houses (revenue), some open space and playing fields (there are groups interested in partnering on field space so that the district doesn’t have to find the money).

  • private

    Ralph – exactly, and I hope that this is what happens. The public gets the same benefit at no cost (actually gets tax revenue). Make it public land, create recurring costs, and public jobs. I bet the staff is pushing for a public purchase, I can see at least half a dozen unionized jobs in there.

    Bemused – this is a swamp. I cannot see how this could be built up, especially with the recent memory of the floods…..the only place above water is where the club house is. Maybe we could built a block of flats for affordable housing, here’s an idea. Did not hear anybody suggesting it though. Too smart, probably.

    Prepare for howls of disagreement from the owners of the million+ houses nearby, though.

  • Concerned tax payer

    Is the thinking here that if the town buys it they will hang onto the golf course and keep it as a municipal course or turn the land into something else? Anyone know what plans the town would have for it if they did end up buying the land?

    • Anon E Mous

      Thinking? Let’s listen in on another conversation :-)

      Before the community buys the club shouldn’t the elected officials inform the citizens what their plans are for this property? Do they really plan on running a municipal golf course? To buy this property and then develop a plan for it’s use at some future date is to travel on the road to folly.
      What would it cost to maintain this property and it’s buildings? How would taking this property off the tax rolls effect the tax rate in the future? Perhaps there should be a public discussion of the pro’s and con’s before such a large expenditure is made.
      – tom murphy

      Tom, great expectation, great comment. But what in the municipalities’ past would give you the idea they would have a plan. Especially when they dismiss the loss of $300,000 to $450,000 of tax revenue as insignificant overall, although that would be annually and becomes millions over just a few years. Especially when they’re talking to a consultant rather than the public. Amazing how the information the public knows has been filtered through statements to the press while the meetings have been closed to the public, and apparently discussed with somehow chosen consultants. Your request seems quite reasonable, if perhaps unlikely to be realized. – LMP

  • Anon E Mous

    Wild idea – let’s fund this whole thing with savings from the compensation lines of the municipalities and the School District budgets :-)

    No funny numbers games though, please. Remember, as Bobby Bragan has been quoted, ‘Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.

  • Stacey Lopez

    I heard that Westchester Land Trust is involved with the municipal purchase of the Country Club along side Trust for Public Land.

    Anybody know if this is true? If not, they should be involved because of their vast experience and knowledge of Westchester County and the property and expertise in land preservation.

    Westchester Land Trust’s local knowledge is too valuable not to include them in any activity with the Hampshire transaction.

  • sad

    Hi – does anybody live near the club and can report on the tree down situation on the manicured landscape? also, how flooded are they ? great opportunity for brokers and potential $$$$$$$$$$ purchasers to check out on the property potential in what is becoming regular weather conditions.

    • Joel Negrin

      I had a sloggy run around the back 9 this AM. About 1/3 of the back 9 was underwater. There were no large downed trees. I didn’t get to all the front 9 holes, but it appeared that about 10% of the front 9 fairways were underwater and I didn’t see any large downed trees. The greens and tees looked fine. The traps were, of course, a mess.

      Some of the the drainage filters/screens appeared to be clogged. This property will not thrive without some minimum maintenance; hopefully part of the plan.

    • No Apprentice

      Oh, but please don’t let it be the Donald!!! I can’t handle any more Trumps in Westchester – Anything but that.

      God Save Mamaroneck and Hampshire C.C.!!!!

  • Former Larchmonter

    As a former Larchmont resident, I feel the Town needs to jump on this rare opportunity. Having recently left Westchester and moved to CT — to a town with an amazing town golf course and other recreational facilities (and much lower taxes), the Town is crazy to let this opportunity pass. What a great place for town golf, additional tennis courts, and even a possible event/catering facility or restaurant. If marketed and run properly, this could become a huge benefit for the Town for current and future residents.

    • Anon E Mous

      :-) Neighbors coming, make room! Your community is about to get more crowded.

      You’ve moved and gotten amazing amenities and ‘much lower taxes’; then propose that your former ‘Town’ should undertake a project to increase its taxes even further, with no evidence of the economic or other viability.

      (BTW, could you name the place in CT to which you moved? Inquiring minds want to know.)

      ‘The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’ – Albert Einstein

  • Mamaroneck Resident

    The existence of other town-run recreational facilities, which have survived the recession, such as those in Eastchester, Rye, or Westport, CT, constitute evidence of “economic or other viability.” If we follow a similar model, we will most likely enjoy the same results. These recreational facilities enhance the lives of the residents, and make their towns a more favorable place to live. If our community is about to become “more crowded”, ie., more attractive to buyers, that is a GOOD THING for all of us who have invested in the area. A very good thing.

    • Anon E Mous

      :-) Sorry Mamaroneck Resident, you greatly misunderstood!

      YOUR community is getting the SPACE it wanted; and whether it gets the Hampshire or not. You need only look at the EMPTY SPACE along Palmer and BPR. And no viable plan for it. Eyes open!

      It’s that CT town, with ‘much lower taxes’, that will have the ‘bootery’ on Palmer doing business, ‘neighbors coming’, and getting ‘more crowded’ with new residents.
      :-) Last one out ‘ahere’ is a rotten egg :-) .

      Mamaroneck Resident, you say, you’ll ‘most likely enjoy the same result’ as a few other government facilities – that’s evidence? that’s convincing?

      The out-sized and ever increasing taxes with unmeasured results in the three ‘Mamaroneck municipalities show that there is little hope that the proposed project would be viable. The municipalities have yet to release a plan that even shows such on paper.

      (BTW, ‘Former Larchmonter’, why did you leave? Did your use for the school system run out? Because the government didn’t own and subsidize the Hampshire? Other? Inquiring minds want to know.)

      So Mamaroneck Resident, perhaps you’ll enjoy your ‘GOOD THING’. Perhaps if it’s such a ‘GOOD THING’ you should be a bidder, as your comments would indicate you know how to make it a good investment and a benefit to the community. But forewarned, eyes open!

      ‘The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’ – Albert Einstein

  • Former Larchmonter

    Anon E Mous: You posed a few questions, which I’m happy to answer. I left Larchmont because of the taxes, plain and simple. Grew up here and love everything that Larchmont has to offer — many of my friends still live in town and I’m in town often. But now as an adult, I can’t justify the taxes. We moved to Westport, CT — the tradeoff? Yes, a longer commute to NYC on MetroNorth (by 30 mins), but on the flip side, twice as much land for a quarter of the taxes, #1 high school in CT and a town that gives back: Town Golfcourse (along the Sound), Town tennis, pools, community sailing and a beautiful beach.

    All I am suggesting is that for the Town of Mamaroneck, the opportunity now to purchase Hampshire is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The golf course is beautiful, with recently renovated facility for recreation, catering or dining. Why not create a Town golf course that requires caddies (giving some jobs to students in the community), offer more tennis courts, etc? If run properly, this could be a huge boon for everyone.

    You mention the open storefronts in town, I see that as a separate issue – the cause of owners charging too high rent and frankly the development of too many buildings on Route 1 over the years.

    “Mamaroneck Resident” raises many points that I agree with – other towns have a track record of success with running facilities such as this – Mamaroneck should be no exception. Plus, the more attractive the community is to others, the higher your own property value.

  • Anon E Mous

    Thank you! Thank you! ‘Former Larchmonter’. Your response is informative and provides a foundation for intelligent debate which can only benefit all, regardless of current opinions. Seriously, thank you!

    Some may take exception to the Anon E Mous(es)’ style; that’s OK. Some may enjoy the Anon E Mous(es)’ style; that’s OK. But most OK is if the Anon E Mous(es) of the WWW are encouraging the sharing of information, and the asking of hard questions of ourselves, as the future of our communities and nation must deal with the actions we all take now. And we can’t depend on the government alone to do that, as governments in our nation are simply the servants of the people they represent.

    For those who have read this far, apologies in advance for the length. But, it appears in the Anon E Mous(es)’ opinion, we’ve now dug below the surface and under the water, and before we dig a hole, the points ‘Former Larchmonter’ should be addressed by many. Please contribute – real thinking and ideas, not money – to the discussion. (Thanks go to Judy and Paula, et al, for the providing the space and opportunity for a real community discussion; a town meeting.)

    Yes, ‘Former Larchmonter’, the ‘three’ Larchmont municipalities in its ‘Town’ have much to offer and perhaps its biggest loss is those who have been ‘forced to’ or ‘chosen to’ by high taxes, move away. Perhaps, one might consider the most important amenity of any community is its people, our neighbors. Sorry so many that are known by Anon E Mous(es)’, and other not known by Anon E Mous(es) have done as you did. But your reasons are quite understandable, and that is why more will continue to join you – yes make room. (Oh, wanna recommend a Westport RE agent? :-) )

    Yes, CT is a longer commute to NYC, and NYC is certainly a most wonderful place. But NYC – remember NYC is five boroughs, not just Manhattan – likely will continue to develop to provide housing of different types to attract people who desire various amenities and are of various socioeconomic levels. NYC, in Anon E Mous(es)’ opinions is structured better to do this. And BTW, this thing called the internet, this things we’re using now for this discussion, will affect that other thing, called commuting – not replace it right away, but supplement it, change it.

    Anon E Mous(es) don’t by any means oppose amenities or potential amenities in Larchmont/Mamaroneck, they strongly favor them, but they must be affordable, and represent fair cost and value to all. Perhaps some private business or individuals could run Hampshire as many of the Larchmont/Mamaroneck residents dream. Perhaps one of those will. But when Hampshire is viewed as a once in a lifetime opportunity, remember that many who invested with someone named Bernie thought similarly – unfortunately it turned out to be just that – unfortunately, just not the one they expected.

    That some other municipalities may have accomplished something in the past is not evidence of potential success in Larchmont/Mamaroneck. Indeed Hampshire ran successfully in the past. And Playland, for example, perhaps a different financial story.

    Remember the structure of governments in your former ‘community’. Not necessarily the most effective to undertake such a project as they are very likely overloaded and ‘underwater’ already. And the recent ’shared services study’ indicated little likely improvement to be expected.

    Remember, you said you left because you couldn’t justify the taxes in your former community. Do you expect a Hampshire purchase would enable you to do differently? Would it be a nice place for those who left to visit very inexpensively, paid for by even higher taxes by those who are able and choose to remain? (Just wondering, do some expect higher property values from this proposed ‘project’, making a move to Westport, CT more desirable?)

    Where’s a business plan and real evidence of likely success for this proposed ‘project’? Or, to put it differently, where’s the beef? So far we’ve seen only desire accompanied by cries of motherhood and apple pie from an ‘e-gen’. Perhaps what caused ‘Former Larchmonter’ to move to CT. Our municipal governments unfortunately have been, quiet on this critical issue – but they’re consistent in that respect, among others.

    And is ‘Hampshire’ really a necessary and proper function of government. And if it’s a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, would one reasonably expect bidding by private businesses with experience in projects such as this. If it’s really ‘a one in a lifetime opportunity’, probably any other offer is ‘trumped’ in the end. Simple!

    Open store fronts, yes in some ways a different issue. But, in some ways the same. Issues that the municipalities are unable to resolve successfully. So to put more on their plates – to be unable to handle – well, perhaps not the best approach. But really, the same issue – how do the governments and communities configure and manage resources so the community remains affordable, viable and a community of its people. Simple question; achieving the desire to address the questions and solve the problems, not so simple!

    ‘The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.’ – Source unknown.