At the May 22 meeting of the Rye City Council, the Rye Golf Club Strategic Committee presented their fact-finding, analysis, and recommendations regarding the future of the club.
By Robin Jovanovich
At the May 22 meeting of the Rye City Council, the Rye Golf Club Strategic Committee presented their fact-finding, analysis, and recommendations regarding the future of the club. In an extensive, fact-filled 63-page report, the Committee provided financial and operational data, a history of the Club’s governance, and alternatives for running the Club going forward.
Peter Marshall, who chairs the RGC Strategic Committee, recommended the City consider a variety of alternatives to get the club back on track: continuing to operate it as an Enterprise Fund, merge the operations back into the General Fund of the City, or transfer the land to a Land Development Organization, to be managed by the City of Rye “off balance sheet.” All of these structures have their strengths and weaknesses; the full report can be found online on the City’s website.
As far as managing the Club, the Committee, whose other members are Angela Sposato, Bill Gates, and Al Vitiello, found three major categories worth considering:
1. Maintain RGC as a City-managed facility (golf, pool, restaurant, catering). Obtain one to two years more experience to determine food/beverage viability under new management.
2. Outsource the restaurant (Whitby Castle) to a concessionaire with City of Rye exiting the restaurant business in 2014-15.
3. Outsource the entire facility, so the City exits golf, pool, and restaurant business.
Councilman Peter Jovanovich offered a fourth alternative related to the pool operations. Noting that a family pool membership ($1,450) at Rye Golf costs about three times as much as membership at village pools elsewhere in Westchester, he proposed putting the pool under the management of the Rye Recreation Department.
“Rye Rec’s emphasis on affordability is probably more suited to pool membership,” said Jovanovich. In addition, he asked that pool patrons be allowed to bring their own coolers of food and drink, something that was banned by the recently dismissed Golf Club Manager Scott Yandrasevich, and that the $300 food minimum be dropped for pool members.
The meeting ended with a discussion of whether or not to solicit an RFP for outside management of Whitby Castle.
Councilwoman Julie Killian said: “I feel very strongly, and I have since before we started this, that the City should not be in the restaurant business. We do not have the staff to monitor it properly. We never will unless we hire a whole lot more people, and I think that’s just not realistic for us.” Mayor Doug French also supported the idea of outsourcing the restaurant as soon as practicable.
A Golf Club workshop will be held, June 12, at 7 p.m., before the City Council meeting.