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Aldermen override mayor, OK $3.5m bond for Derryfield project

By TED SIEFER
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 07. 2014 11:00PM


MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday approved a $3.5 million bond to fund long-planned improvements at the Derryfield Country Club, overriding a veto from Mayor Ted Gatsas, who objected to additional costs to oversee the project.

The primary goal of the project is to eliminate a drainage problem that has existed for years rendering portions of the municipal course unplayable after heavy rains.

Parks officials had previously estimated the cost of the project at between $2 million and $3 million.

Last week, the Parks Chief Don Pinard informed the aldermen that a contractor had been selected for the project, Landscape Unlimited of Lincoln, Neb., which submitted the lowest of three bids, $2.9 million.

He proposed bonding $3.5 million, with the additional money going to cover “contract administration and contingency.”

“I support this project 100 percent,” Gatsas said. But, he added, “That’s 500,000 of taxpayer dollars for somebody to review designs they already put in place ... that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Gatsas proposed reducing the bond to $2.9 million and having city staff handle oversight of the project.

Alderman-At-Large Dan O’Neil said the additional money for contract administration and contingency was standard in any major infrastructure project undertaken by a contractor.

“This isn’t the first time. It’s been done for years,” he said. “You either pay employees to do it, or you have a consultant do it, to make sure what’s on the plans gets done.”

The Derryfield Country Club, one of only a few municipally-owned courses in the state, has become a drain on city finances as membership at the club has declined in recent years. Restructured 15 years ago to be a self-sustaining enterprise, the city has had to subsidize the course for the past seven years, at a cost of around $6 million.

Supporters of the course improvements have argued they will help boost membership, and in turn revenues, at the course.

Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig, a longtime supporter of the project, said he had concerns about the cost, but insisted it was time to move forward. “This project is time sensitive. I think these numbers may be ramped up,” he said. “But the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can get golfers out there and get the revenue back.”

The vote to override the veto was 10-2, with Aldermen Tom Katsiantonis and Keith Hirschmann casting the no votes.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


Politics Local and County Government Manchester


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