Petition asks city council for more information and discussion before Beaver Meadow clubhouse vote
Published: 12-05-2023 6:52 AM
Modified: 12-06-2023 4:09 PM
A new middle school, a new police station, affordable housing, solving homelessness: When Robert Maccini thinks about spending priorities in Concord, several big-ticket items top his list.
Instead, on Dec. 11, the Concord City Council will host a public hearing to consider a $10.3 million bond to build a brand new clubhouse at city-owned Beaver Meadow Golf Course. Under the direction of Mayor Jim Bouley at his final meeting, the council is set to approve the largest expenditure this year outside of the city budget.
To Maccini, and many of his neighbors, the clubhouse decision is a rushed vote coming before a lame-duck council with little public input. In January, six new members will join city leadership, with a change in mayor as well.
Maccini is now calling for a public presentation of an assessment report of the facility and community feedback through an online petition with hundreds of signatures. In essence, he’s trying to pump the brakes on an impending vote, he said.
“I’m all in favor of improvements at Beaver Meadow but I think that the city council is going from zero to sixty, in three seconds,” he said.
In April and August, an advisory committee held two public visioning sessions about a potential redesign. The potential cost for a new clubhouse was expected to be less than $5 million. The committee came up with a three-story design but didn’t fuss over any of the financials.
Committee chair Nathan Fennessy said the committee never considered the cost of a new clubhouse because it wasn’t asked to do so.
The plans were then scaled back from a three-story 18,000-square-foot building to a single-story structure with 15,000 square feet after the New Hampshire Golf Association backed out of the project. The new plans were presented to the clubhouse committee with little fanfare on Oct. 11.
The $10.3 million price tag was presented to the city council at their November meeting, where a motion to postpone the public hearing and sequential vote to the incoming council was shot down. The clubhouse could cost even more if the city decides to include a geothermal heating and cooling system or if it decides to use primarily American-made materials.
One of Maccini’s biggest gripes is a facility assessment report from the architectural firm H.L. Turner that was accepted by the council in 2021 with no discussion or public input.
The report outlined improvements to make Beaver Meadow a year-round facility, with recreation in golf and skiing, as well as space for a restaurant, events and improvements to the parking lot.
To renovate the current facility, the report outlined a price tag of $914,000 for new entrances and windows, renovating the bathrooms, repaving the parking lot and other building improvements. Instead, the clubhouse committee recommended building a new clubhouse and spending no more money on the existing structure.
This report and the committee’s recommendation were on the city council’s agenda for their December meeting in 2021. However, it was a consent item, meaning the council did not discuss it.
When the proposed plan was to completely rebuild the facility three times larger than the existing 5,000 square-foot clubhouse, for a price that was over 10 times what a renovation was, Maccini felt more public conversation about that decision was essential.
“We went from a million to 10 million,” he said. “Slow it down and let the new council look at it. And present that report.”