How Bad Is Bad, And How Do We Make It Better?
The Country Club of Woodbridge/Roger Sherman farm/golf course – whatever you call it – has been the top challenge facing our town since we bought it over thirteen years ago. Early attempts to subcontract management of the property to continue golf operations ended for a variety of reasons. The Democrat majority has promoted three different large-scale proposals to build housing on the property, the first one defeated by voters and the other two yanked in response to voter concerns. It’s a painful history but lamenting mistakes won’t help us figure out what use of the property will be supported by a majority of Woodbridge residents.
Where are we today? First, let’s look at the condition of the grounds and clubhouse, as that’s the starting point for any effort to resolve the situation. We know the grounds are overgrown, at least in part because volunteer offers to address the overgrowth were rejected by Town leadership. As for the clubhouse, few residents know how significantly the building has been allowed to deteriorate. We have recorded video, taken in March of this year, that documents how bad things really are. That video can be found at WoodbridgeGOP.com and on our Facebook page. If you have ever attended a function at the club, the video will break your heart. If you’re a taxpayer, you should be outraged by how this asset has been handled – or more accurately mishandled – by both the Scalettar and Heller administrations. We encourage everyone to watch the video and assess for yourselves if the Democrat leadership has done a good job managing this town asset. Be advised the conditions and some of the graffiti are shocking.
Where do we go from here? The Board of Selectmen is currently making moves to issue an RFP for consultant advice on possible uses for the property. Sounds good – but the devil is always in the details. In 2013 the Republican Selectmen candidates suggested hiring a consultant – but were specific in proposing we engage a company specializing in golf course repurposing. Hiring a consultant is still the right approach ten years later. But since that time, town residents have offered multiple ideas for the property. Some want to re-establish the golf course and clubhouse, some propose leasing acreage for a solar farm, others would carve out the clubhouse acreage for development while preserving most of the land as open space, still others want to build affordable housing. The point is that Woodbridge residents have multiple visions for the property – so what we need now is analysis of those ideas. The RFP should be focused on expert analysis of each idea including feasibility, tax consequences, the impact on our schools, traffic and public services, housing considerations and population changes. Additional possibilities may emerge after this analysis is complete, but we first need to give residents the benefit of analyzing the ideas that they have repeatedly offered. And to be clear, what we DON’T need is an RFP that steers the consultant toward the same, tired proposal for large-scale housing development that the Democrat leadership has repeatedly promoted.
The analysis of each option should be presented to the Woodbridge residents in a public forum with ample opportunity to ask questions and offer comments. Multiple forums would likely be required. Our residents’ ideas deserve a thorough review with data, facts and figures.
Once we’ve received the analysis and given residents plenty of time for input, there may be opportunity to combine some of the ideas for further public vetting. Through this process, the BOS will be able to identify what option(s) are acceptable to a majority of voters. Armed with that info, the BOS could develop specific plans for the property’s future that would be put to voters by referendum.
Woodbridge voters should know that local Republicans are focused on solutions to the challenges facing our town. Republican creativity and leadership can strengthen our town as we present practical ways to keep Woodbridge the great town it is in many ways and protect it for future generations. The golf course is our biggest long-term challenge and the path we propose here for the golf course is an option voters should seriously consider. We can and will do better for Woodbridge.
<span class="fineprint">This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.</span>