Putnam Proposes $400,000 for Golf Course

The Putnam County Golf Course

The Putnam County Golf Course could receive $400,000 in federal funding. (Putnam County photo)

Money would come from federal COVID relief  

A Putnam County legislative committee this week unanimously voted to use $400,000 in federal COVID-19 relief for asbestos removal and repairs at the Putnam County Golf Course, clearing the way for approval by the full Legislature, which meets Tuesday (Feb. 1).

Convening by audio connection on Monday (Jan. 24), the three-man Audit Committee acted despite a protest from Legislator Nancy Montgomery and questions posed by Cold Spring Mayor Kathleen Foley in a letter that the committee declined to consider. 

Committee members and county officials said federal rules allow use of American Rescue Plan Act pandemic relief funds for the work, which must proceed immediately, before the golf season begins in the spring.

Putnam is expecting to receive $19 million in ARPA assistance. It received the first $9.5 million payment last summer.

Montgomery questioned spending federal aid for projects at a golf course whose 2021 revenue exceeded predictions. “Let it pay for itself,” she urged. “Why are we going into American Rescue Plan funds meant for critical infrastructure projects and supporting our communities?” 

Officials in Dutchess County received similar pushback when they said in June they planned to spend 20 percent of its $57 million in relief funding on improvements at Dutchess Stadium, which it leases to a minor league baseball team, the Hudson Valley Renegades. 

“I’m a baseball fan but, please, let’s not put this public money toward this,” Nick Page, a Democratic county legislator whose district includes three wards in Beacon, said at the time. “Don’t give our pennies to this when there are people who are still hurting” from the pandemic.  

At the Jan. 24 meeting, Katherine Hanrahand, the Putnam golf course manager, reported that its 2021 budget anticipated income of $1.22 million from golf but instead produced $1.56 million. However, restaurant operations, expected to generate $1.08 million, brought in only $1.04 million. Nonetheless, Hanrahand stated, the golf and restaurant operation together realized a profit of $271,667.

Aside from deploying income from its golfing and restaurant activities, Montgomery recalled that the golf course can tap a special account, with an undisclosed balance, into which the county annually dumps $250,000 for the facility’s projects. 

“It is a good point,” replied county Finance Commissioner Bill Carlin. However, he explained, for the upcoming work, “we just thought using American Rescue Plan funds would be easier” than dipping into other coffers. But if the Legislature “doesn’t want to use ARPA, we don’t have to.” Carlin described the course as “a gateway to tourism and recreation in the county” and said its appeal is likely to increase since the closing last fall of The Garrison golf course. “We really need to reinvest in this facility,” he said.

Montgomery, the lone Democrat on the otherwise all-Republican, nine-member Legislature, also asked how Putnam “is distributing these funds equally throughout the county for tourism.” Her district covers part of Putnam Valley and all of Philipstown, including Cold Spring, a busy visitor attraction. Officials in both towns have asked about Putnam’s plans, she said.

In her letter, Foley, who did not participate in the audio meeting, told the committee that she thought ARPA money was for “recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19, as well as for infrastructure repair.” Towns and villages need “public water system upgrades, repairs to infrastructure — including areas heavily trafficked by tourism — and critical storm-preparedness,” she wrote. “How will constituents in Cold Spring benefit from the ARPA money the county received? What is the process for determining use of the funds? Who is making those determinations, and what part of the process will be open to public comment?”

When Montgomery attempted to discuss such concerns, Legislator Neal Sullivan of Carmel-Mahopac cut her off. Sullivan, who chairs the Legislature, presided at the committee session. The mayor’s letter arrived at 4 p.m., too late for review that day, he said. “We will, I’m sure, have ample time to discuss these [local issues] with the administration” of County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

On another financial topic, Carlin reported that Putnam’s 2021 sales tax revenue was $78 million — the highest in 12 years, according to a county chart. Putnam had estimated $59.7 million in sales tax in 2021. 

“We had a phenomenal year, but we have to view it in context,” Carlin said. He observed that sales tax boomed from May through October before dropping and that “we’re cautiously optimistic for 2022.” 

Montgomery said the county should remember the sales tax haul “when thinking about how to support local municipalities and businesses.” Unlike many other counties, Putnam does not return a portion of sales tax revenue to the villages and towns where it is generated.

In other business, the Audit Committee approved spending $336,000 for COVID-19 testing in Philipstown and Carmel through February, although Carlin said testing might not be required that long.

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10 thoughts on “Putnam Proposes $400,000 for Golf Course

  1. It’s hard to believe the COVID golf course is not a joke, but this is Putnam, after all. Still, there’s nothing to laugh about when one thinks of all the good use that this COVID money could be used for! Yikes.

    • Can you come to the Legislature’s monthly meeting tonight at the Putnam County courthouse? It will be discussed and hopefully voted down.

  2. Are you kidding me? Using $400,000 of relief money for a golf course? That’s not infrastructure, that’s recreation.

    What about our pothole ridden roads? Or the drains that don’t drain water off the roads? Perhaps using the money for people who were directly affected by the pandemic? A lot of people lost jobs, rent and can’t afford to buy food, what about our small businesses that are struggling, and these people want to blow it on a golf course.

    The money should be used for rebuilding parks, dirt roads that have eroded, and maybe some electric vehicle charging stations. How about a parking garage? We definitely need one of those. Nowhere to park in Cold Spring, Mahopac or Carmel ever.

    Don’t we need some work done on our public beaches, lakes and waterways etc.? How about guardrails? We need a bunch of them to perhaps save some lives rather than make sure I can shoot 18 holes on a well-groomed golf course and then enjoy lunch and a few libations at the club.

    I’m sure the fire departments could use some new rescue equipment or the police and ambulance could use some new equipment. There are literally hundreds of things that need to be done in Putnam County before making sure that I can improve my golf game.

  3. A few things to confess upfront before I start my rant.

    I run. I don’t like golf. I’ve played it a few times and am hopeless at it. Occasionally I run around the perimeter of golf courses raising the ire of golfers.

    This represents not only a poor use of our community’s money but a misappropriation of ARPA money. Few of us play golf. Few of us will ever benefit from this investment. ARPA money was not intended to invest in old world recreational infrastructure that benefits the few. Rather the idea was to learn from past mistakes, such as overbuilding golf courses, and build back better — including better recreational infrastructure for the community.

    Golf is a massive board game that serves more as a status symbol than as a form of community recreation. There are almost 40,000 golf courses in the world using 26 times the amount of space per player as a football or baseball field while providing far less value to the community.

    Society has evolved past the need for so much golf. It’s time for many golf courses to go and the land be put to better use such as affordable housing, a community farm, a public park, or a natural habitat,

  4. Seems like a huge misappropriation of funds. I wonder what the governor would say about it. Thank you to Mayor Kathleen Foley and Nancy Montgomery for speaking out against it. We need more Democrats representing us in Putnam County.

  5. This is one of the most disgraceful allocations of much-needed funds I’ve ever seen. The Putnam Golf Course turns a profit! Use that!

  6. Spending COVID money on a golf course is a type of hyperbolic immorality you’d expect from a failing dictatorship or a Charles Dickens novel. There is nothing conservative about it. Who do these legislators answer to? How could they possibly still have the support of their party?

  7. How can they pass this through when we couldn’t get tested for COVID in the county when we needed it? They don’t have the resources to track who was exposed but they can use the money for a golf course that most of us will never be able to use. And it runs a profit. Is this what we are paying taxes for to take care of golf courses and not our citizens? Time for a change. Remember when you vote where your tax monies were being allocated for when so many other things needed attention.

  8. I was surprised when I read that the Legislature was considering spending $400,000 in federal COVID relief aid at the county golf course, but then I realized how fortunate I am to live in a county that has no pressing infrastructure, health care, transportation or environmental issues.

    I was so relieved to deduce that funding for the seven deficient dams was forthcoming; that the sheriff’s Hudson River patrol has been restored; that no Putnam municipality needs funds to upgrade water or sewer lines or create safer crosswalks; that no county department needs a computer upgrade, a new vehicle or training; that the hospital has state-of-the-art equipment; that our overworked health care workers don’t need a raise or funding to expand their knowledge; and that small-business owners, retail stores and restaurants didn’t need any county efforts to increase their sales.

    None of us should worry because, obviously, none of these efforts are needed.

  9. Spending COVID-19 relief money — taxpayer money — for a purpose that is extremely bad for the environment and contributes to climate change is beyond belief.

    Golf courses rely on pesticides and insecticides, and their lawns are a terrible use of land. In addition, it’s well-known that golf is a dying, so-called sport. It’s incredibly cynical to use COVID money for such a purpose; only Putnam would do something like this, hopefully. I hope Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is making a stink about this waste of federal funds.