Public displays overwhelming support for township support of property, but concerns about its financial viability remain.
The Pocono Record reported on February 8th that the Middle Smithfield Township Board of Supervisors had voted 2-1 in favor of re-opening the golf course at Country Club of the Poconos in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
Supervisors Annette Atkinson and Mike Dwyer offered qualified support for reopening the golf course, which was closed last September amid escalating losses. The supervisors said they wouldn’t invest more than the $277,000 already budgeted for basic course and clubhouse maintenance, even if it had remained closed.
Atkinson conceded that some residents see the course, acquired as part of a $2 million deal to acquire the Country Club home development’s unused sewage capacity in the township treatment plant, as a financial mistake.
Dwyer pointed to overwhelming public support for opening the course and positive financial projections by a citizens’ golf committee.
“The ad hoc golf committee has presented a compelling case,” Dwyer said. “I am cautiously optimistic. There are some who hope this venture will fail. I am not one of them.”
Supervisor Mitchell Marcus said the golf course acquisition is a major reason the township has had so many financial problems the past two years.
“I can’t vote for something I don’t firmly believe is in the best interests of township residents,” Marcus said. “I’ve seen this golf course cause us extreme financial distress [and] put us in debt, as a matter of fact.”
The audience cheered Atkinson and Dwyer’s motion and shouted objections when Marcus expressed his concerns.
“We don’t care,” one resident shouted in response to Marcus’ explanation. Others yelled, “Call the question,” and the vote opening the course was taken moments later.
“If you had a vote from the community,” said resident Wayne Bolt, “you would find the community wants it open.”
Atkinson said the course would open around April 6. Several details have yet to be decided, she added, including who will manage it and whether the clubhouse would also open.