Not everyone plays golf. So not everyone is aware, firsthand at least, that Meriden’s Hunter Golf Club is a gem when it comes to municipal golf courses. As such, it’s a source of pride for the Silver City, but city ownership can make it difficult when it comes to making funding decisions. Asking taxpayers to fund something that doesn’t directly benefit all taxpayers can be a tricky proposition.
But that isn’t quite what the City Council recently approved. A surplus in greens fees is going to be used to replace the 40-foot by 60-foot tent and finance a new patio nearby. The cost is about $60,000.
That’s a far cry from a little more than a year ago, when proposals under consideration included a $1.5 million banquet hall or a slightly larger $1.7 million banquet facility. While a banquet hall would have made Hunter a more attractive golf destination, there were residents who felt the money would be better spent on immediate needs, including paving roads, education, sidewalk repair and building a new senior center. There was also talk of whether Meriden would be better off selling the course.
Then arrived the coronavirus pandemic, and there were more pressing concerns than golf course banquet facilities. Golf also became among the few activities people could enjoy safely, and Hunter had a good year when it came to attracting golfers.
A year later the goal is more modest, and funding significantly different.
“The funding will be paid for from the operating account,” noted City Councilor Michael Rohde, who is chairman of the finance committee. “It will not be bonded and there’s funds available to accomplish this. I think that’s a real positive for the city. It’s something that’s much needed.”
The council agreed, passing the resolution by a 9-1 vote, with Councilor Bruce Fontenella opposing for reasons that included that the benefit “doesn’t flow to the taxpayers and to the residents of Meriden.”
Yet if the city is going to continue ownership of Hunter, there is an obligation to at least maintain the operation. This plan fits that goal, and the council made the right decision.