Panel recommends putting Meriden golf course banquet hall project on hold

Panel recommends putting Meriden golf course banquet hall project on hold

reporter photo

MERIDEN — The city’s Golf Commission acknowledged this week that it doesn’t have a viable project and will recommend that the city hold the $875,000 earmarked for a new banquet facility at Hunter’s Golf Course and revisit the idea next year. 

The recommendation goes to city officials who will decide among several options, including scrapping the project and de-authorizing the bond, City Manager Tim Coon said.  

“There is no short term timeline on when the $875,000 needs to be spent, so the council need not do anything right now,” Coon said. 

The new banquet facility was to replace a temporary tent structure, set up next to Violi’s Restaurant, currently used to host golf tournaments and other events. The city agreed to bond $875,000 to build the banquet hall which some said would pay for itself after 20 years. 

Earlier this month, the City Council deadlocked on a request to spend an additional $125,000 for the building after members of a committee overseeing designs did not like the look of the facility that would have been built under the original budget.

The council voted 6-6 on whether to approve the additional money, and unaffiliated Mayor Kevin Scarpati broke the tie by voting in opposition. 

But Democratic City Councilor Brian Daniels, a strong advocate for the project, said he hopes to have more discussions in the next couple of weeks that will lead to a funding solution. 

“This facility is badly needed in Meriden,” Daniels said Thursday. “It’s embarrassing that everybody said they strongly support the project and we can’t get the votes. The general support is for the $1.5 million (project).”

Violi’s lease

The golf commission will also set up a subcommittee for lease negotiations with Violi’s Restaurant next month. The lease for operating the golf course restaurant ends Oct. 31 and the city hoped to negotiate a new lease that would have Violi's operate the restaurant and the new banquet facility. The city expected the lease would include higher rent payments, which will help offset the cost of the banquet facility. 

The Golf Commission negotiates the lease agreement and presents it to the City Council’s Finance Committee and eventually the City Council for approval.

Commission members considered a one-year extension on the current lease.

The extension is “so we can wait and see what happens with the banquet room,” said golf course Superintendent Thomas DeVaux. “There was also some discussion about placing amendments in the current lease to cover the banquet room if it gets adopted.”

Commission Chairman Patsy Papandrea asked for an update on the condition of the existing tent. 

“It has to last,” DeVaux said. “The tent will need Band-Aids. Sometimes it’s necessary. It’s been necessary for a couple of years.”

The Banquet Building Committee would have no input on the golf commission’s recommendation, Coon said
Twitter: @Cconnbiz

The existing tent at Hunter Golf Club. | File photo.