Last votes of outgoing council to shape future of Beaver Meadow clubhouse

Ward Three City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic puts her foot in a rot hole in the side of the Beaver Meadow Golf clubhouse while giving a tour of the building in June.

Ward Three City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic puts her foot in a rot hole in the side of the Beaver Meadow Golf clubhouse while giving a tour of the building in June. Monitor file

The outside of the Beaver Meadow Golf clubhouse.

The outside of the Beaver Meadow Golf clubhouse.

Plans for a new single-story clubhouse will cost more than $10 million and will come before the Concord City Council at the last meeting of the year.

Plans for a new single-story clubhouse will cost more than $10 million and will come before the Concord City Council at the last meeting of the year. Courtesy

—Courtesy

By MICHAELA TOWFIGHI andSRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 11-10-2023 5:54 PM

Modified: 11-13-2023 2:02 PM


The city of Concord is moving ahead with plans to build a $10 million clubhouse at the Beaver Meadow golf course at the final meeting of the year before a new mayor and six city councilors take office.

If approved, it will be the largest expenditure authorized by the council this year outside of the budget. And it will come under consideration by a lame duck council, where it will be one of the last votes of outgoing mayor Jim Bouley and five of the ward councilors.

Mayor-elect Byron Champlin said it was Bouley’s decision to bring it forward so late in the year.

“That’s the current mayor’s decision on how to advance that,” he said.

Throughout city campaigns this fall, numerous candidates discussed the renovations of Beaver Meadow Golf Course while canvassing in city wards and in candidate questionnaires and forums. For many, the decision to move ahead with the construction of a new clubhouse was not an obvious spending priority.

Now, the issue is up for approval before they have a chance to weigh in.

After numerous public discussions about the future of the course, the timing should be a surprise to no one, Champlin said.

“How many discussions have we had about the golf course?” he said. “Numerous public discussions and public meetings.”

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Champlin said he won’t make a motion to delay the vote so the newly elected body could take the issue up at its first meeting in January.

“They will get to contribute on other things. There are many other policy issues,” he said.

The plans for the clubhouse have been rapidly evolving after an initial ad-hoc committee was established by Bouley in December of 2022.

In April, the committee held a visioning session at the community center, and in August, that conversation continued at the current facility to discuss new building designs and site plans, including rental space for the New Hampshire Golf Association. A month later the Golf Association said it no longer wanted to be involved with the project.

Just last month, the advisory clubhouse building committee reviewed new plans that dramatically scaled back the proposed structure from three stories to one.

As conversations took place, construction costs began to exceed initial projections.

In the most recent city budget, a capital improvement project detail outlined $4.9 million for clubhouse improvements. Of that, $4.5 million was designated for the new construction.

On Dec. 11, the council is expected to vote on a one-floor clubhouse facility and reconstruction of the parking lot and surrounding walkways that will cost $10.8 million, most of which would be paid for with a taypayer-funded bond.

The initial budget figures were a placeholder until costs were finalized, Brian LeBrun, the deputy city manager of finance said in July.

Now, those actual figures are nearly double the placeholder estimates.

Some money for design costs have already been spent. A bond of $10.3 million would pay for construction, engineering, solar installations, parking lot development, signage, and more.

If the project is approved, a bond sale is anticipated for January of 2025. That means residents will begin to see a yearly tax impact in 2026.

For a property valued at $300,000 the annual tax impact will start at $30. At its peak in 2030 and 2031, it will be $39. And by 2044, it will decrease to $6, according to city estimates.

With the construction cost alone reaching $5.9 million, the proposal to incorporate a geothermal system could potentially increase the expenses by an additional $463,467.

Champlin had not read the specifics of the proposal, but he’s consistently supported the golf course as a community resource, he said.

Revenue from the golf course can be used to offset other city expenses. But when revenue does not meet expenses, taxes have been used to pay for golf course operations.

The existing clubhouse was built in 1966 and is in disrepair. The renovations needed on the facility are numerous – including door and window replacements, restroom overhauls, sewer line repairs and general maintenance, city officials have said.

The facility assessment report from the engineering firm, H.L. Turner Group projected renovation costs at $914,000. The city is proposing to construct a new clubhouse at more than 10 times the cost rather than make repairs to the existing structure.

With this rebuild, the city also has a chance to reimagine the use of the space, said Champlin. Yes, the clubhouse will serve golfers, but it could be used as a community center or meeting space for residents who live in Concord’s northern wards, or rented out for events.

“We should be talking about are the pluses and minuses of the project itself,” Champlin said. “That’s where I would I would hope that our discussion would rest.”

Rather than talking about the revenue the clubhouse can yield and the potential for it as an improved community facility, the renovation has been positioned as a binary choice over other projects, like installing lights at Keach Park, Champlin said.

“There has been a tendency to use the clubhouse discussion as a way to promote other agendas and other other things that people think are important. And use it as a negative comparison,” he said. “I don’t know that that’s fair to the clubhouse or the community center or to any of our other projects.”

A two-thirds vote of the 15-member City Council is required to pass a bond resolution.

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to accurately reflect the estimated renovation costs of the clubhouse. This figure was incorrect.