TYNGSBORO —Those still hoping the town will pursue the purchase of the Tyngsboro Country Club may be in luck. The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 on Monday to bring a $3.3 million dollar purchase opportunity to a Special Town Meeting vote next month.
The Special Town Meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on July 23 at the Tyngsboro Elementary School, 205 Westford Road.
According to Town Administrator Matt Hanson, the article being brought forth at this Special Town Meeting will be the same as one that was rejected by Town Meeting last month except the dollar amount is different — it is now $3.3 million, a half million dollars less than the previous $3.8 million. Voters on May 21 narrowly rejected Article 24, which looked to see if the town will vote to raise, appropriate, transfer from available funds, borrow, or otherwise provide a sum of money not to exceed $3.8 million to be expended under the direction of the Board of Selectmen to purchase, take by eminent domain or otherwise acquire the country club. The vote at that Town Meeting was 217 for and 154 against, but it required a two-thirds majority to pass.
The Tyngsboro Country Club is co-owned by Tammy Garau and her brother, Bobby Spindell. They were under agreement with Toll Brothers for the company to build a community for adults 55 and older, but the town has the right of first refusal because the property on which the country club stands is under the state's Chapter 61B program. This program gives preferential tax treatment to landowners who maintain their property as open space for recreation.
"When you put a property into Chapter 61, it can complicate matters when the time comes to sell that property," Selectman Rick Reault said Tuesday. "The owners want to retire. I respect that. I want them to be able to do that, and I don't want to hold up their life's plans."
Reault said the property owners recently reached out to him to ask if the town still had an interest in the property.
"I responded that we did," Reault said. "The majority of the town has voted three times to support this project, so I said to them, 'Do you want us to have interest in this property?' Because it's disrupting their lives and I have compassion for that."
Garau did not return a call Tuesday. After looking after the country club for decades with her husband, Glenn Garau, Tammy has said she is looking forward to retirement. At Town Meeting last month, Glenn appeared frustrated when addressing the Board of Selectmen.
"This is the last opportunity... we didn't ask for this. We talked to you about this," Glenn said at the time. "We'd love to see it stay a golf course. We really would."
Hanson on Tuesday said he hasn't spoken to Toll Brothers recently.
"Until the board and the owners decide for certain that the town isn't going to buy it, the Toll Brothers are not really part of the equation," Hanson said.
Selectman Ron Keohane, who was the dissenting vote on Monday, said he is in favor of saving the golf course as open space.
"But the reasons I voted against it is, one: The price is too high and I'm still looking for a price that is fair to the Tyngsboro taxpayer and the owner. That's one of my issues," Keohane said. "And the second issue really is I am concerned about the operational expenses of running a golf course."
Keohane said capital improvements would also be needed for the golf course. He said he tried to compromise at Monday's meeting by suggesting that the town could buy the golf course and use it as only open space, but it was shut down.
The Special Town Meeting article has to pass by 75 percent, and even higher bar than the one that existed at Town Meeting, according to Reault.
"I still have a strong belief that this is in the best interest for the town of Tyngsboro," Reault said. "I believe that a property of that size, in that particular location, would be a valuable asset for this town for future generations."
Selectmen Chair Hillari I. Wennerstrom said she respects the opinions of those who don't want the town to purchase the country club.
"It's not about trying to bring this forward until it passes. That's not the intent," she said. "The intent is for us to hear what people said, and take action as community leaders and a lot of people said 'I want the golf course, but at a lower price.'"
Amaris Castillo: @AmarisCastillo on Twitter