The following letter was written to the City Council, the City Manager, and the Corporation Counsel and forwarded to the paper for publication.
I am writing about the two-tiered fee structure at Rye Golf for Rye residents. It looks as if we are going down the slippery slope again of treating the club as private, with membership-driven decision-making and little transparency and oversight – and public representation.
As a public facility, the value proposition of the club to all Rye residents is to get equal access to the amenity simply for being a resident. That lifts property values and the appeal of the overall community.
Rye Golf Club is owned and operated by the City of Rye. It is not a private or semi-private club. As taxpayers, all Rye residents have equal access to the club. The semi-private designation is for non-residents who do not pay property taxes but can apply and use at different rates.
As owners, the taxpayers pay the bill for all litigation and liability associated with the club. We hold any bonding. As one example, the legal and investigatory costs of the five years of crimes and corruption, that began in the Club Manager’s office in 2007 that were exposed by residents and the City in 2012, were paid for by the taxpayers at the request of the membership.
Further, Rye Golf Club members do not have special privileges or equity ownership in the Club like other semi-private and private clubs. Current RGC members pay annual user fees for a direct and immediate derived benefit for using the club. That does not give them more of an entitlement than Rye residents who used to be members or those who may want to join in the future.
The RGC commission acts as an extension of the Council, and the Club Manager as an extension of the City Manager to manage the day-to-day affairs. Any change in the business model of ownership and operating authority requires a referendum.