EDITORIAL: Funding a banquet facility at Meriden’s Hunter Golf Course

EDITORIAL: Funding a banquet facility at Meriden’s Hunter Golf Course

Having recently opted for a less expensive plan to refurbish Meriden’s public library, the City Council now faces another similar spending challenge, similar because it involves the question of how much should be invested in the future.

In this case it’s not books but amenities surrounding golf clubs. The council’s Finance Committee the other night narrowly approved bonding an additional $124,999 for a banquet facility at Hunter Golf Course, which is city owned.

The approval raises the total bond authorization to just under $1 million. Just under $1 million is significant because anything above that spending limit automatically triggers an additional 20 percent in expenses due to the state’s “prevailing wage” requirement, according to Brian Daniels, the Finance Committee’s chairman.

As with the library, the different levels of spending add up to a significant difference. A successful golf course requires amenities beyond the greens and fairways. The improvement in question replaces a tent next to Violi’s Restaurant.

City officials decided to increase the budget for the project after seeing that the initial cost would deliver what was described as a “metal shed.”

Just a single construction company, LaRosa Building Group, of Meriden, responded to a request for proposals. An initial budget of $1.7 million would have covered a banquet facility accommodating up to 200 people. Because that was over the city’s budget, the company worked with a committee to reduce costs.

While reducing costs was a success, the result was far from satisfactory, a pre-fabricated metal building that would not match up with the restaurant.

So what’s now being presented to the full council is a compromise, a just-under $1 million metal building that would not connect to the restaurant but would allow for future patio space overlooking the 18th green.

A few significant questions remain. Those involve a new lease agreement with Violi’s, the question of the new facility’s ability to pay for itself over the years, and why there was just a single bid for the work.

Those do not seem like details. What is clear is that Hunter is a Silver City gem, one of the best municipal golf courses around, and a source of considerable pride. As with the library, any improvement needs to be considered as an investment in the future.