By Lori Richard, Neighb News Correspondent
The Acushnet Selectboard unanimously agreed to increase rates at the Acushnet River Valley Golf Course by $3.00 to offset the rising costs of running a first-rate golf facility. Although the course enjoyed a “perfect season” last year thanks to sunny weather, limited recreational options (due to COVID) for players, and other factors, this year is likely to be more typical.
General Manager Dana Przybyszewski explained that the playing season runs from July through November, and currently the course is approximately $125,000 “below the high water mark” that was set last year. He doesn’t expect that the course will see 42,000 rounds being played this year.
“So much depends on the weather” and the popularity of other sports, he said.
Selectboard Chair David Desroches questioned whether the modest rate increase will cover all of the course’s needs down the road, such as salaries, fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, and other variable costs.
Both Mr. Przybyszewski and Superintendent Steve Tibbels reassured him that the rate increase should allow them to maintain the course without putting too much of a strain on their customers.
“We’re trying to maintain our competitiveness in the market. We made a jump we thought we would be comfortable with,” said Mr. Tibbels.
Mr. Przybyszewski added that a large number of regular players include blue collar locals who enjoy teeing off at an affordable price.
He said, “All of the hard work we’ve done over the past 20 years has really hit the mark.”
The rate increase also accommodates two additional staff members, replacing one employee who retired, and adding another who can fill their current staffing needs. Mr. Tibbels noted that the golf course does not have overtime funds, and he can not do what he used to do when he came to the course 22 years ago.
He emphasized that the majority of his staff has been there for more than 15 years, and he would not want to lose them.
Selectboard member David Wojnar agreed that the increase is necessary. “This is the one asset we have in town … and it’s understaffed,” he said.
Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher announced that the federal government’s recent settlement in the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma will result in recovery funds for Acushnet.
In total, the town will receive $325,344 over a period of 15 years from the settlement. While the town will get its first payment of $36,586 in the spring, the money comes with stipulations that it be used to support opioid education and recovery. In future years, the amount of recovery money will vary.
The chief recommended that the town appoint a group to make spending recommendations based on the details of the settlement.
“It’s very good news, and these folks are paying through the nose,” he said, referring to the companies charged in the lawsuits. “We know too many families in Acushnet that have suffered from the use of opioids.”
Mr. Gallagher also addressed the ongoing process to hire the next fire chief. Following the Assessment Center Review, he recommended that selectboard members ask candidates Eric Arruda and Thomas Farland (both of whom are Acushnet firefighters) to respond, in writing, to the same questions that were posed to the police chief.
When asked why, he responded that “they are specific to executive level leadership of a public safety department.” Their written responses are due 4/4/22 at noon. The selectboard will follow up with interviews during a special selectboard meeting on 4/6/22 at 10:00 a.m.
As the selectboard meeting convened, members of the Fabian family donated three HeartStart defibrillators to Acushnet sports through the Jake Fabian Memorial Fund. When Jeanne and John Fabian’s son Jake died from arrhythmia in October 2019 despite being an otherwise healthy young man, they knew they wanted to do something to improve the community in his memory.
“We felt if one person was saved, it would be enough,” said Ms. Fabian. “People have been so wonderful. We’ve received some beautiful things from people in his name.”
In addition to the equipment, the fund has provided scholarships to local students.
Mr. Wojnar thanked the family for their generous gift, noting that Jake was an inspiration to the townspeople.
“This is an incredibly generous donation,” he said.
Chief Gallagher noted that the machines are high quality commercial defibrillators with special features. He added that research shows there is a need for this kind of equipment at ballfields, where the frequency of cardiac arrests in children and adults is high.
“This is exceptionally beneficial to the town,” said the chief.
Ms. Fabian replied that they are happy to be able to give back to their hometown.
In other news, based on past complaints, the amount of traffic on the roads, increased recent activity, and general summer traffic, the selectboard unanimously went along with the Safety Committee’s recommendation to approve No Parking signs on Main Street between Dayton and Hamlin Streets, on Wing Road, and on John Street.
Additionally, selectboard members met with Police Chief Chris Richmond and DPW Director Dan Menard to discuss department budgets. The board unanimously voted to approve all level-funded budgets except the DPW, Highway, SEMASS, Insurance, Retirement Pensions, and Police, which they will revisit at a future meeting.
After wrapping up public business, the selectboard convened in Executive Session to discuss strategy with regards to collective bargaining or litigation (301 Perry Hill Road).
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