Tag Archive | "Poxabogue Golf Center"

Poxabogue Celebrates 50th Anniversary

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Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack.

Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack. Photo courtesy of Poxabogue.

By Tessa Raebeck

On “Poxy days,” Alfred and Robyn Poto would wake up their young children, Jennifer and Eric, get out the family bikes and head down Town Line Road to the Poxabogue Golf Center on Montauk Highway. After breakfast at the Fairway Restaurant, the family would spend their morning hitting golf balls on the range.

“When I think of Poxabogue, I smile,” recalled Jennifer, now a grown woman. “It has a warming sense of tradition and milestones for so many people.”

Opened in 1964, Poxabogue is celebrating 50 years of tradition this year. Originally a small potato farm, the Sagaponack course and driving range was started to give local residents an affordable alternative to the region’s standard of elite, members-only clubs.

Over a half a century, Poxabogue has become the range of choice for locals, tourists and summer residents alike.

“When I was a kid, I loved going to the range, it was a nice little family activity,” said Jennifer Poto, whose family had a summer home in Sagaponack. “It became a family tradition for us. Poxy golf and breakfast both just instantly remind me of my childhood.”

“It was a place where we could interact with our young kids, while surrounded by the beautiful landscape,” her mother, Robyn Poto, said. “No better way to start off a weekend morning, only to end the visit with a great breakfast with Dan [Murray],” who has been operating the Fairway Restaurant, the independently owned diner next to the course, since 1988.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

While the Poto family enjoyed their “Poxy days” on sunny summer mornings, others honed their golf skills at Poxabogue bundled up on winter weekends and after school.

“I’ve always loved hitting golf balls there since I was young,” said Brendon Spooner, who grew up in Wainscott around the corner from the range. “It’s good for learning the game, having the nine-hole course out here.”

When developers threatened to turn the property into a housing development or a miniature golf attraction in the early 2000s, residents—billionaires and longtime locals alike—quickly spoke out to save Southampton’s only public course. In March 2004, the towns of East Hampton and Southampton recognized the public pressure and stepped up to the plate, splitting the cost to purchase Poxabogue.

Southampton bought out East Hampton’s share of the course in 2012 and is now the sole owner. PGA Director of Golf Steven Lee took over the day-to-day operations last June.

Mr. Lee manages the course and runs it as if it’s his own, paying the town in an agreement similar to a lease. He has a relationship with the town, he said, “to provide the people of Southampton and East Hampton with a public golf course in an area that has mostly private clubs.”

“What makes it special is that there’s not a lot of public golf out in the Hamptons,” said Mr. Lee. “And it’s really ironic, because at a time when all of the golf courses started becoming bigger and bigger and more expensive and more challenging—and that’s really one of the things that’s driven people away from the game—now they have Poxabogue, where people are coming out to. They love coming out, they love hitting balls.”

Matt Nielsen started playing at Poxabogue when he was 16. Some of his friends from East Hampton High School worked on the range, driving the caged carts around picking up balls. Mr. Nielsen first came to Poxabogue to perfect his golf game by taking aim at the carts his friends were driving, but he quickly became a regular.

“It’s important because it gives us locals a place to play that we can actually afford,” he said. “Some of the private courses out here cost more money than I will make in my lifetime. It’s a course for real golfers, not the rich stockbroker that just plays to close a business deal.”

Like the regulars on the range, Mr. Lee is hopeful Poxabogue will enjoy another 50 years providing the community with a place to play golf. One of his goals, he said, is to get more of locals to come out and hit balls in the off-season.

“As long as I live here, that’s my course,” Mr. Nielsen said.

Despite Protest, East Hampton Town Votes to Sell Poxabogue Golf Center to Southampton

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Despite a request by some residents to hold off on the sale of East Hampton Town’s share of the Poxabogue Golf Center in order for the sale to be fully vetted by the community, on Thursday the East Hampton Town Board formally approved the sale of the golf center to Southampton Town.

According to the resolution approving the sale of the town’s share of the 38.9-acre golf center property, Southampton Town will pay East Hampton $2.2 million to retain full ownership of Poxabogue. According to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, the town will also be entitled to an additional $200,000 — its share of the money the golf center has brought in this season.

East Hampton originally purchased Poxabogue through its general fund for $3.25 million in 2004.

The sale is subject to approval by the New York State Legislature, according to town attorney John Jilnicki, as the sale constitutes the town giving up parkland. The town will also need to purchase an equal amount of property through the Community Preservation Fund to make up for sale.

It is also subject to a permissive referendum meaning if a resident opposes the sale they have 30 days to collect resident signatures to force a public vote on the sale. According to state law, the petition would need the number of signatures equal to five percent of those who cast a vote for governor in the last gubernatorial election.

Before the vote was made by the East Hampton Town Board during its Thursday night board meeting, Springs resident and Democratic and Working Families candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor Zach Cohen questioned whether the sale made financial sense. He also asked whether or not the town board had included the community benefit the course offers town residents in making the decision to sell it.

Cohen noted that during peak season, the golf center offers a discount for residents of both East Hampton and Southampton Town. Residents are charged $28 to play, while non-residents are charged $40. While Wilkinson said there is an agreement in place securing the discounted rates for town residents, as it is not laid out yet in the draft contract of sale, Cohen questioned whether or not town residents will truly be protected.

The town cannot legally pay off the whole of its debt on the Poxabogue Golf Center until 2016. The town has said it will bank the total $2.4 million from Southampton Town into a reserve account, used to pay off the annual debt on the parcel through 2016 when the reserve account will be used to pay off the whole of the town’s debt from purchasing the golf center.

However, Cohen said that as a result of selling the property he believes residents will have to pay an additional $350,000 in interest payments over what it would already have to pay over the next four years, and will be left without ownership of the facility when all is said and done.

Cohen called for a complete financial analysis of the sale and the impact to the town, how much money the facility is expected to bring in over the next decade and beyond, as well as the community benefit the course gives residents.

“The real total loss on the property is staggering,” said Cohen in a press release after the meeting.  “Not only is there $1.05 million we lose on the original purchase price of $3,250,000, we will also have paid $1.1 million in interest by the time we pay off the bond in 2016. The real total loss of taxpayer money, with legal and other fees, must be $2.2 million. That will be the sum of what it cost us to own Poxabogue for seven years.”

He added if the town kept the property, once it was paid off in 2023 the town’s general fund would benefit from “an income-producing asset.”

However, on Thursday night East Hampton Town budget officer Len Bernard defended the financial sense of the sale. He said that over the next four years close to $700,000 will be paid on the principal balance the town owes on the golf center out of the $2.4 million reserve account. That money, noted Bernard, would have had to be raised through taxes otherwise.

Bernard said that in 2016, when the town can legally get rid of the municipal bond, it will owe $1.71 million on the property, but will have $1.75 million in the reserve account.

Bernard said the town will save about $2 million by selling the property eight years before it would have been paid off.

Wainscott resident Jordy Mark, a member of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, also asked the town board to hold off on the sale and give the public more time to research the issue. She said she was in favor of the town maintaining its ownership, and that in doing so the town would have a say in any future development of the property or the restaurant on-site.

Mark called for a public hearing before a formal vote was taken.

Wilkinson noted that because Southampton Town originally purchased the property with CPF monies development would be prohibited at Poxabogue.

Mark responded that there was debate over the last two years as to whether the restaurant at Poxabogue Golf Center could be expanded to include night hours, although the concept never came to fruition.

“I would say, convince me,” said Mark. “Even if the end result is to sell it, I still feel members of the community deserve a public hearing.”

Wilkinson noted the board was not required to have a public hearing by law, but board member Julia Prince said that while she supported the sale, she also believed it was worthwhile for the board to have a public hearing.

Prince was overruled when the board voted in support of the sale, with the support of Wilkinson, and board members Dominick Stanzione and Peter Hammerle. Prince abstained and deputy supervisor Theresa Quigley was absent from the meeting.

East Hampton Town Supervisor’s Budget Lowers Taxes, Sells Poxabogue

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The tentative budget submitted to the East Hampton Town Clerk by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson on Friday raises spending by 2.5 percent — but it also cuts taxes.

The $65.6 million budget shows a 0.2-percent tax cut for residents of the town who live outside the villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor and a 9.4-percent reduction in taxes for town residents who reside within those villages.

“With the 2012 tentative budget, like the 2011 adopted budget, we continue our sensitivity to the tax burden on town residents and limit spending to the greatest extent possible,” wrote Supervisor Wilkinson is his budget message. “Our 2012 tentative budget decreases tax rates for those living inside and outside our incorporated villages. Spending increases slightly, due primarily to employee benefit cost escalation and in part to money needed to eliminate the $27.3 million deficit created by the previous administration.”

In his budget message, Supervisor Wilkinson goes on to note that in the last 20 months, town government has been “restructured,” merging the Harbors and Docks Department into the Police Department. There has also been a “streamlining” of Human Services, brining ordinance enforcement, the building inspector, fire marshal and animal control under one Public Safety department, and the establishment of a Finance Office representing finance, information technology, human resources, the tax receiver and purchasing.

These changes, he wrote, have helped reduce spending and maximize how town personnel are used.

Supervisor Wilkinson said discontinuation of the leaf pick-up program coupled with the closing of the town’s Recycling Center on Wednesdays has resulted in $700,000 in annual savings.

The tentative budget also maintains funding levels from 2011 for the East Hampton Daycare and Learning Center, the Family Service League, the East Hampton Food Pantry, Phoenix House, the Montauk Youth Association, the Springs Youth Association, Project MOST, RSVP for Seniors and the Pediatric Dental Fund.

The tentative budget also includes the sale of East Hampton Town’s portion of The Poxabogue Golf Center to Southampton Town. A resolution authorizing that sale, for $2.2 million will be offered at Thursday night’s town board meeting.

On Tuesday, during a town board work session, Supervisor Wilkinson said that in addition he expects the town will receive about $200,000 in owed revenues from the golf center.

Supervisor Wilkinson added that he was told East Hampton residents would not be charged differently from Southampton Town residents for the use of the golf center as a result of the sale. Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley explained that the town had done what it hoped to accomplish – prevent the close to 40-acre course from being privately developed. The Town of Southampton originally purchased the property with Community Preservation Funds (CPF), which will protect the land from future development, she said.

In 2004, East Hampton Town purchased half of the golf course for $3.25 million alongside Southampton Town in an effort to preserve the recreational use of the land. It could not use CPF monies for the purchase, explained Supervisor Wilkinson on Tuesday, because the property lay outside the town.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Wilkinson did not say how much debt the town still owed on that purchase, but estimated with the sale to Southampton, East Hampton Town should about break even.

The East Hampton Town Board will meet tonight, October 6, at 7 p.m. The town board must approve a final budget and send it to the state by November 20.

“I am proud of this 2012 tentative budget because it builds on and continues the management and financial disciplines introduced in the 2011 adopted budget and places the town in a stronger position as we move forward,” said Wilkinson in his budget message. “Over the next several months I will be introducing, and the town board will be reviewing, a three-year capital improvement plan and budget that will address plant, equipment and the future infrastructure needs of the town.”