Around Town Hall: New Poxabogue Manager Chosen, Again

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The Southampton Town Board has accepted a bid from a company that wants to manage the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack, after another management firm whose bid was accepted by the town in February backed out of the deal.

The new accepted bid was made by Steve Lee, a PGA-licensed golf professional who also runs the pro shop and golf instruction program at Calverton Links. The terms of the agreement have not yet been released as East Hampton Town, which still owns half the golf course, must still sign off before Mr. Lee can take over the course’s operations. The Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department is running the facility in the meantime.

Delays in East Hampton in approving the original bid were cited as the reason the company, Third Rock Management, backed out of the deal.

“They basically said that East Hampton took to long and they wouldn’t have time to get ready and, therefore, couldn’t enter into the contract,” Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi said last week. “It is what it is—they obviously couldn’t make it work for them.”

Mr. Nuzzi said the bid submitted by Mr. Lee was similar to the Third Rock bid with regard to the golf education program. The bids differed slightly in their financial arrangements, but both provide the town with the sort of management contract they were looking for, Mr. Nuzzi said.

The main component of the proposals sought by the town was that the new management company be responsible for the maintenance and capital improvements to the golf facilities, and share profits with the town. The contracts the two towns have used since they jointly purchased the property in 2003 focused on paying an operator to manage the facilities, leaving the town responsible for any major costs.

East Hampton owns half of the golf course with Southampton. The two towns purchased the course, the only public golf facility in Southampton Town, for $6 million to save it from being transformed into a residential development. East Hampton has been trying to find a way to sell its portion to Southampton but the sale has been held up by the rules of the Community Preservation Fund, which the towns drew the money from to cover the purchase.
Beach Rebuilding Project On Track
The Southampton Town Board last Thursday gave its final thumbs up to the modification of proposals by oceanfront homeowners to spend some $25 million to rebuild the beaches along a 6-mile stretch of beach in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack.

After Hurricane Sandy greatly worsened the erosion along the oceanfront last fall, the town had to alter the borrowing plan on behalf of the residents to fund the project. The money will be paid back over 10 years with the revenues of a special tax placed on those homeowners fronting on the beaches to be renourished. The project was approved by a majority of property owners back in February.

Consultants working for the erosion control districts are currently seeking permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for the project. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has already approved the planned work.

The engineers designing the project have held preliminary talks with companies that might dredge some 2.5 million tons of sand from natural supples located a mile offshore and pumping it ashore and into the shallow surf zone below the water line.

When completed, the project is expected to provide 10 years of more stalwart storm protection to oceanfront homes by widening beaches and sculpting the sea bottom near the shore to dampen the erosive effects of storm waves.
Town Credit Rating Remains Aa
The credit analysis agency Moody’s last month announced that it was keeping Southampton Town’s credit rating at Aa, its second highest rating, despite a push by town officials for an upgrade.

The Aaa rating is generally reserved for much larger municipalities, with larger asset reserves, than Southampton Town. Still, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Town Comptroller Len Marchese had made a case for an upgrade, pointing to Southampton’s record of conservative budgeting and substantial reserves.

In spite of the rating company’s decision, lenders are essentially offering the town rates that are comparable to those reserved for municipalities with a Aaa rating, Mr. Marchese told board members.

The town sold $8 million in bonds last month to cover the 2013 capital budget, and received a rate of 1.91 percent on its 20-year bonds, he said.

Mr. Marchese also told board members that the town has already taken in some $1.8 million in mortgage tax revenues for the year, more than $1 million more than it had received at this time last year. The jump is a good sign that the local economy is improving, Mr. Marchese said.

He also noted that the numbers are far in excess of the amounts the town forecast in its 2013 budget. In 2012, the town ended the year with a more than $4 million surplus above its adopted budget.

“So far this year, it’s gone surprisingly well,” Mr. Marchese said.
Two Trees Easement
The Town Board recently accepted an open space easement for some 72 acres of horse fields at the Two Trees Farm in Bridgehampton.

The site of the annual polo tournaments, the two polo fields and the farms’ iconic green-roofed barns that are visible from Scuttlehole Road will remain as part of a 17-lot subdivision on the property.

A 2-acre buffer easement along the shores of Long Pond was also accepted by the town.

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