View of Willow Ridge Club golf course from the clubhouse
Harrison on Course to Purchase Willow Ridge Club,
Club Says They Have Other Buyers
By Howard Husock
The Town/Village of Harrison is poised to use eminent domain to take ownership of Willow Ridge Country Club and operate it as a municipal facility. The Town Board will meet December 17 at 7 p.m., via Zoom, to consider a course of action.
“We are in a position where the Town can proceed to acquire the club,” said Harrison Town Attorney Frank Allegretti in a statement to the Board. He noted that the Town would lose only a modest amount of annual property tax revenue ($47,000) and stated his view that the 121-acre club could be operated on a break-even basis. The Club is currently losing members and operating at a loss.
Allegretti, in consultation with the Troon golf management consulting firm, says Harrison will consider permitting golfers to play the course by buying a day-use pass.
Day-use golf can be a relative bargain. Lake Isle Club, the only other public municipal golf course in Westchester County, charges $40 for weekday access to its links. Attorney Allegretti cites such an approach as one Harrison might adopt, open to all Westchester residents.
It’s important to note that the eminent domain proceeding is not a fait accompli.
In a statement of its own, Willow Ridge called on Harrison to “abandon” the eminent domain option, noting that it has potential private buyers for the Club and that the property could be sold for housing development.
Allegretti pointed out that much of the Willow Ridge property is a wetland and “not just a big flat area of land on which it’s easy to put up houses.” Further, he noted that seeking to develop the property for housing would be a lengthy process involving numerous local approvals.
The potential emergence of a Harrison-owned municipal competitor, which allows day-use golf, may have an impact on the operating practices and fees of Rye Golf, which itself is pledged to operate without imposing costs on City of Rye taxpayers. Rye Golf only allows day-use access to its swimming pool ($25 per adult, $10 per child.) The Club requires an annual membership fee of approximately $4,500 a year for a combination golf/ pool pass, and $3,100 a year for golf alone.