Walter reverses course on Great Rock

05/27/2010 12:00 AM |

Things at Great Rock Golf Course in Wading River are apparently looking a lot greener — on and off the links. And, having learned that Great Rock is actually in better financial shape than he’d believed, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is backing away from his plan to help out.

“In January, they came to us hat in hand, saying they were going out of business in three months,” Mr. Walter said. “My thought was that if the business model of a golf course and a restaurant doesn’t work, we’d have a look at it. But since they’ve now announced that they’re not going out of business, I see no need to have that conversation.

“The town is not in a bailout situation.”

About three weeks ago, Mr. Walter announced at a public Town Board meeting that Great Rock’s owners had told him the golf course would be closing in about 90 days, and that Great Rock was seeking permission to construct 54 rental villas on the course and had submitted a petition signed by 100 neighbors of the course supporting a public hearing on such a proposal. The supervisor later even suggested that the town take the deed to the golf course in exchange for a code amendment allowing the villas.

But last week, Vic Prusinowski, a consultant for Great Rock, said in an interview with the News-Review that the golf course was not going out of business in three months, as the supervisor had said, and that they were merely “looking for a way to stabilize the profit structure.”

The golf club and the restaurant on the course also ran newspaper ads stating, “Great Rock Golf Club and Blackwells Restaurant are alive and well and open for the 2010 season.”

“My position is, they told us they were broke, now they say everything’s fine,” Mr. Walter said. “The issue is resolved for good, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not interested in going any further with this.”

But Mr. Prusinowski said his comment had been made in response to a question about whether the course was closing in three months, as the supervisor had said.

“You asked me if we were going out of business in three months, I said no,” Mr. Prusinowski told a reporter. “I did say we were looking to stabilize the profit structure. The golf course is not making money, and [the villas] would be a way to stabilize the profit structure so the golf course can continue.”

Mr. Prusinowski said that while the golf course isn’t facing closure this summer, it will have to close at some point if its revenues don’t change.

The advertisement, he said, was in response to the many calls they had received from people asking if they were going under.

Great Rock and Blackwells have a combined total of 60 full- and part-time employees and pay $154,000 per year in property taxes, he said.

Mr. Walter said he discussed the Great Rock proposal at a meeting of the Suffolk County 9-12 chapter, a so-called Tea Party group, last week. They believed his original position of possibly changing the zoning or the town code to allow for the villas constituted a “corporate bailout,” he said.

The supervisor said he asked the group for a show of hands as to how many of its members felt that way, and “everybody” raised their hands.

“They were not happy,” he said. “I did not see it as a corporate bailout, but sometimes you have to sit back and really listen to what you’re saying. When I tried to describe it to them, I said to myself, ‘That is a corporate bailout.’â”

Mr. Prusinowski said Great Rock is not looking for a “bailout.”

He said they would pay even more property taxes if the villas were permitted. The project also would have no impact on the school district, he said, since the villas would be rentals geared toward retirees.

“The only thing we’re asking for is a public hearing to be able to make a presentation to the community and let everyone have their say,” Mr. Prusinowski said. “What is the problem with having a hearing?”

Councilman John Dunleavy said he still wants to hear what the residents who live around Great Rock have to say, and he’s considering sending them all a letter asking for their feedback. He says that feedback would then be weighed with other factors, such as how the golf course would be affected, in forming his opinion.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio also feels a public hearing should be held.

“Everyone should be entitled to a hearing,” she said. “No one should be precluded from speaking.”

But Councilman George Gabrielsen agreed with the supervisor.

“After hearing them say they’re bankrupt, and then they’re not bankrupt, as far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t give them an audience,” he said. “I’m not for giving them a bailout and I don’t think the government should be in the business of taking over their land. Let the financial markets work it out for them, because their financial problems shouldn’t become the town’s burden.”

[email protected]



601 Comment

  • With phase 2 of the 25A Corridor Study approved, integration of the 2030 Draft, excessive ARRA Bond borrowing at Brookhaven, increasing lay offs, inevitable tax increases to home owners, with all of this, civic groups should expect new comers who’s opinion and input may differ from member’s opinions of the past. Certain statement made by this SUN reporter, in this article, did not occur. There was no mention of the Trustee election of the evening. ?????????

  • Why don’t they put sidewalks on Hallock Landing Road where residents probably DO want them, properties are larger, and safety would be improved. I regularly see a family of four walking from the store on that winding road carrying shopping bags, as well as two elderly men walking daily to the bagel store, teenagers in groups walking to the beach, and a man in a wheelchair coming and going. I go around the curves very carefully and below the speed limit, but the SUVs and motorcycles don’t, and they don’t pay attention to the double yellow line either.

  • “Chances are you’re on the wrong side of the argument if you’re arguing against our children’s safety.”

    The right side of the argument is to define, as many have, the many more treacherous places in Rocky Point where people have actually been killed! Saving lives is more than a sidewalk. An emergency study should be enacted on the lethal entrance – exits near Waldbaum’s where there have been several lethal accidents in recent times along with over a span of time.

    I am sure that a budget of $1.2 million slated for sidewalks on King would more than cover a study of that problem and cover the cost of a solution and leave enough to cover yet another dangerous and lethal area of Rocky Point.

    $1.2 million is a lot of money in hard times. no one ever killed on King Road. So many have been killed in Rocky Point areas, and many are “multiple times” areas. let’s start REALLY SAVING LIVES by fixing what KILLS PEOPLE! King Road does not kill!

    This whole issue has gone beyond common sense. It’s rediculous, stupid, absurd and dividing a community. Leadership-reprsentation that hasn’t come out academically is hiding behind something and I smell a rat!

  • The info. here is wrong. Ms. Bonner must be surveying the NORTH SIDE, as the south side was already done this summer.
    Does this mean sidewalks will be on the north and south side of KING ROAD?
    The front yards are very small on this road, there will be no parking for some and very limited parking for others.
    Where are people suppose to park the cars? How will on road parking be legal, as this is an emergency route for EMT’s and fire trucks?

  • This guy posting lives with KMS or is KMS…youhave been forwarned!

  • “you have been forwarned! ”

    And using a handle like “itsaboutthestooopid”

    A classic “Cyberbully” that finds entertainment in attacking people on blogs rather than the issues. Disagreements on issues and discussions and even heated arguments are all about democracy at work. Attacking individuals only serves one purpose: hate and abuse. I am quite surprised that the North Shore Sun is allowing “Cyberbully” ways on their blogs.