The North Hempstead Town Board during a special meeting Wednesday morning passed a resolution to add 26 private outings to Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington, drawing criticism from some users of the public course.
Private outings at Harbor Links, and how many there should be, have been a topic of concern since last summer.
Port Washington’s Jack Genicoff, a golfer who brought up issues with the course last year, disagreed with the board’s decision to hold the vote on short notice.
“Twenty-six outings take up almost an entire month of the season,” Genicoff said. “I think it’s absolutely shameful that I receive an email Monday afternoon that you are voting Wednesday morning for this proposal. You should have just told us last year you don’t care about what we think and we would have gone elsewhere.”
The vote passed 5-1, with Democrat Mariann Dalimonte the only opponent of the resolution, saying she wished to continue the vote and wanted more time to discuss the matter with residents and golf officials.
Republicans Dennis Walsh, David Adhami and Supervisor JenniferDeSena voted for the resolution along with Dems Peter Zuckerman and Veronica Lurvey. Democrat Robert Troiano was not present during the meeting.
The board in December extended the management contract with Harbor Links, a taxpayer-funded course, for one year which included a provision that limited the number of private outings to once a week on Mondays. Under that resolution, any additional outings would have to be approved by the Town Board.
James Viras, general manager at Harbor Links, said the outings that happen on Mondays run from the second week of April to October for approximately 22 outings.
He went on to say that the proposal includes at least two outings per week, four weeks with three outings and outings would be held on six Fridays of the year. Viras added that the senior rate would be extended to Fridays this season, making a round of golf $57 instead of $81 and outings that start at 1p.m. or later would allow residents to play that morning.
Eleven of the outings are slated to start at 1 p.m. or later. An 18-hole round of golf takes approximately 4 1/2 hours, according to the United States Golf Association.
“Last year and in years past we would have weeks where there were five events a week,” Viras said. “We were almost in essence closed to the public for an entire week. I think going from five to two is a reasonable request and I feel like a lot of people would be very happy with that.”
Genicoff told the board in July the course was partially closed to the public on 66 of the 109 weekdays from May 1 to Sept. 30 – or 61% of the time.
Under the new schedule, there will be 48 outings this upcoming season. In 2022, there were at least 60 golf outings.
Supervisor Jennifer Desena said the special meeting was called for a different public hearing held that same day involving contracts with local fire departments. She said arranging the vote for March 1 allows the organizations looking to host events at the course a head start in planning.
“We have many charitable organizations in the Town of North Hempstead and this can be their only event all year,” DeSena said. “I said we were going to work with the operator to manage the outings so that it’s fair to our residents, but we cannot completely shut our eyes to what has been the use of the course for many years.”
Members from the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, which holds an annual golf outing at the course, said the organizations looking to have outings are also taxpayers.
“I do think we need to scale it back, but not just back to Mondays only,” past President Ralph Ventura said. “That would hurt a lot of these nonprofits.”
Built in 1998, Harbor Links is owned by the Town of North Hempstead and operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management.
It features an 18-hole championship course, nine-hole executive course that is not closed off to the public during private events, a driving range, pro shop, athletic fields and a full-service banquet hall and restaurant.
Since at least 2013, the town has had a management agreement with the golf course, according to a financial and operational review released in 2016.
The dates approved for private golf outings include May 2, 3, 11, 19, 24, June 1, 8, 13, 16, 22, 27, July 13, 14, 21, 27, Aug. 3, 15, 23, 29, Sept. 7, 12, 20, 21, 27, 29 and Oct. 6.