Consultants Milone & MacBroom presented one recommended proposal and five other proposals based on Woodbridge residents’ feedback during two October community conversations about the future of the property. The 155-acre Country Club of Woodbridge is the town’s single largest tract of undeveloped land.
“This is an important decision about our town’s future character and finances,” says First Selectman Ellen Scalettar. “I am confident that the Board of Selectmen will demonstrate the necessary leadership to make an informed decision in the best interests of the town. Personally, I will only support a fiscally responsible proposal.”
The consultants’ recommended scenario includes maintaining the 18-hole golf course and the pool and developing the section of land on both sides of Woodfield Road as attached active adult (55+) housing. Maintaining the golf course now allows the Town time to consider other options for future use of the major portion of the property.
Other proposals discussed but dismissed by the consultants include:
1.) Developing two tracts of detached single-family homes with some preserved open space. This option was dismissed because, although it would likely yield a large sale price, the Town would likely have a negative long-term fiscal impact due to the increased need for services.
2.) Maintaining an 18-hole golf course, developing a tract of land adjacent to the golf course along Woodfield Road and maintaining open space on the other side of Woodfield Road. This option was dismissed because the limited amount of allowed development would be unlikely to command a high enough price from developers to offset the Town’s costs.
3.) Maintain a 9-hole golf course, develop a tract of single family detached homes adjacent to the golf course and a section of attached active adult housing between the homes and Woodfield Road. Open space would be preserved on the other side of Woodfield Road. This option was dismissed because the residential development was significantly more intense than the vision expressed during the October community conversations.
4.) Instead of a golf course, this option includes a section of active recreation fields (i.e., sport fields), passive recreation (i.e., trails), community facilities and open space. This was dismissed because the Town would incur significant costs to convert the golf course to park space and there would be no financial return for the Town.
5.) Create both active and passive recreation fields, plus mixed housing and attached housing with open space on the other side of Woodfield Road. This option was dismissed because the Town would incur significant costs to convert the golf course to park space and the residential development was out of character with the vision expressed during the October community conversations.
The public expressed a wide variety of opinions on the options presented by the consultants.
The Country Club of Woodbridge was purchased by the Town after the club went bankrupt. The Town purchased the property for $6.9 million after a 435-34 vote at a May 2009 Annual Town Meeting. Prior to the vote, the Board of Selectmen announced, through a town-wide mailer, their primary reason for purchasing the club was to “ensure appropriate development” of the land.
However, the Board of Selectmen did not anticipate how expensive it would be to own and operate a country club. Without counting debt service (approximately $400,000 per year), the Town’s country club expenses have exceed revenue by $1 million since 2009.
“Because of the excessive and unforeseen costs associated with running the golf course, I believe it is in the Town’s best interest to make a decision sooner rather than later,” says Scalettar.