Woodbridge golf course on hold
WOODBRIDGE >> A proposal to turn a portion of the Country Club of Woodbridge property into a world-class destination golf course is off the table — at least for now — and officials again are exploring keeping the 155 acres as “true open space,” First Selectwoman Ellen Scalettar said.
Redan Reserve LLC, led by entrepreneur Roland Betts, who graduated from Yale University in 1968 and is a Yale Corporation alumni fellow, told a packed auditorium of residents during the summer that he wanted to restore the Yale Golf Course, build an 80- to 100-room hotel adjacent to it in New Haven and turn a portion of the Woodbridge property into a championship course. The Woodbridge property and Yale Golf Course are separated by Route 15.
Many residents and selectmen liked the idea, but Betts was supposed to keep town officials informed of Yale’s position because university and New Haven officials would have to approve their portion of the project to make the plan feasible.
Scalettar said she never heard from Betts about whether New Haven approved the plan until he withdrew his plan in an Aug. 29 email to her, stating he would start work at the Yale Golf Course in spring 2017 and then build the hotel. Betts, who expressed unhappiness with aspects of his business dealings with town officials, left the door open to revisit the plan with Woodbridge in the future.
Betts could not be reached for comment.
A New Haven spokesman said the city’s Planning Department has yet to receive a formal proposal.
Scalettar said selectmen are back to looking at keeping the entire parcel for “true open space,” and that is now a budgetary issue moving into the new year because there will be costs associated with that, including environmental remediation and either securing or demolishing buildings once owned by the country club.
She said a detailed study is being done on the costs of keeping the land for open space. Securing the buildings for a period could cost $300,000 to $500,000 and demolishing them would come in even higher, in the neighborhood of $700,000.
The cost of possibly keeping the popular pool is another factor, as it needs work, including resurfacing the bottom. If the pool were to continue operating, bathrooms and a place for changing would be needed, she said.
There is also remediation needed on areas of the golf course because of herbicides and pesticides used in maintenance, she said.
The open space plan, if approved, ultimately would create a park and recreation space.
If turned into open space, town officials could at any time revisit development.
Scalettar has assured residents that any sale of town property to a developer would have to be voted on by residents.
The town bought the Country Club of Woodbridge property for $7 million in 2009 after its owners went bankrupt. Since then, the town has paid a third party to run the golf course, while a popular outdoor pool and tennis courts are operated by the town. The golf course use has ended.
There are many opinions on what should be done with the land.
Scalettar said many residents continue to favor the Toll Brothers proposal to create cluster housing of 80 units for the 55-and-over set. That project would have been on the 42 acres they were to purchase, pending approvals, for $5 million. Under the plan, the town would have kept 113 acres.
Betts said his goal was to make the golf course into a championship public golf course. Under the Redan Reserve plan, they would have paid the town $3.5 million for the property — and the pool would be closed.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Betts did not get back to Scalettar on whether New Haven approved the plan until he withdrew it in an Aug. 29 email to her.
The front entrance to the Country Club of Woodbridge. Arnold Gold — New Haven Register FILE PHOTO