Golf course left to fend for itself

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Town board declines option to purchase

Former town commissioner Charles Salter suggested the $270,00 purchase price for the golf course would be better spent to acquire public access to the Neuse River waterfront.

MINNESOTT BEACH – Town commissioner Adam Garfinkel – who owns property on the golf course – voiced his strong support for the purchase Tuesday night, Aug. 13, but chose to recuse himself from the actual vote in order to avoid even “the appearance of impropriety.”

That meant the decision came down to just three – Cliff Braly, Starr Murphy, and Pete Hall – since Mayor Tim Fowler only votes when his board colleagues are locked in a tie.

When Fowler called for a show of hands – none went up, which meant that the much ballyhooed proposal was dead on arrival.

Sort of anti-climatic, you might say!

However, sentiment in favor of the proposal had certainly not waned in recent weeks. In fact, the overwhelming majority who took advantage of a three-minute time limit for comments were ‘pro-purchase’ – a choice that would have drained town coffers by approximately $270,000.

Eber Warren, a former town commissioner often hailed as a fiscal conservative, surprised some with his stance.

“If the town doesn’t take over this property, then we won’t have a golf course,” said Warren, “and people’s private property values will go down.”

Former mayor Josh Potter also came out in support of the purchase.

“I am 100 percent for this proposal,” said Potter. “The golf course is a valuable asset not only for Minnesott Beach but also for all of Pamlico County. If you lose it now, you won’t have it to offer in the future when you’re going to see more people coming in here (to reside).”

Others were inclined to support the town’s purchase, but with caveats.

“I’m in favor but I think we need to watch over the club’s finances,” said Bill Chandler, suggesting that the country club should allow one or more non-members to serve on its board of directors.”

Town Commissioner Pete Hall echoed that approach, and hinted the club had been less than candid during negotiations.

“I have concerns,” said Hall. “I think our priorities are a bit screwed up. I think there is a way forward, but I do think we need a representative on the MGCC board.”

Steve Hurst, who lives within a stone’s throw of the clubhouse, elicited chuckles with his opinion.

“Our property values are directly related to that golf course,” said Hurst, adding: “Oriental has boats. Minnesott Beach has a golf course.”

That left an opening for another former town official, Charles Salter, who was the last of more than 20 or so people to address the board. Salter decried the fact that there is no longer “a beach” in the town of Minnesott Beach.

“Maybe we should use this money in another way,” suggested Salter. “Minnesott Beach is on the water, but if you don’t live on the water, you can’t get to the beach. I don’t think that is fair.”

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