Golfers on the green.

Local Golfers At A Loss “Fore” Words

At the beginning of the year, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and the Town Board advanced plans to acquire the Peninsula Golf Course in Massapequa, a decision that has faced major backlash from Course club members.

After learning of an imminent sale of the property to a private sector developer, the Town sought zoning changes to protect it and opened negotiations with the current owner to “forever preserve this beautiful open space to prevent the development of this environmentally sensitive property.”

“The Peninsula Golf Course is too beautiful, environmentally sensitive, and beneficial to allow development as it offers our community recreational opportunities,” said Supervisor Saladino during the announcement. “Once we learned of the owner’s true intentions to sell this open space to a developer for future residential development, we asked them to sell us the property or voluntarily allow us to rezone the course as recreational space to forever protect it from development. Unfortunately, an agreement could not be reached. The Town continues to advocate for the needs of our residents, a protected environment, and for the ever-increasing demand for golf. We are now moving forward to acquire this property at a fair price, protect its environmentally sensitive nature, and ensure it remains open for public access for generations to come.”

Back in June of 2021, the Town Board hosted a public hearing for residents to provide feedback on the Town’s acquisition plans. The 50-acre property was owned by PCG Holding Cor­poration and is a 9-hole course consisting of two parcels separated by Cedar Drive. Rumors began that the owners planned to sell it to a developer to be subdivided into 150 single-family homes. John Ellsworth, an environmental planning specialist for the En­vironmental Planning firm of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, testified for the town. At that hearing, there was substantial support for this acquisition from residents, environmentalists, golfers, and citizens throughout the Town, including the local civic association.

“We love the golf course for what it is, not for what a greedy developer sees it as,” said Nassau Shores Civic Association member John Guerri­ero. “The Association is adamant that Peninsula remain a golf course. As such, we fully and completely support the town’s efforts to seize the property through eminent domain if the town deems that it is the best way to preserve the land.” Subsequently, at an Oct. 26, 2021 town board meeting, the board voted unanimously to proceed with the acquisition of the Peninsula property by eminent domain.

In voting “aye” on the resolution to proceed, Town Supervisor Joe Saladino said he was proud to vote for the acquisition. “The protection of open space, the environmen­tal aspects and positives to this, the importance of protecting the community from overdevelop­ment… and, of course, our commitment to the needs of our residents to minimize the urbaniza­tion of the Town of Oyster Bay make me excep­tionally proud to vote ‘Yes’,” he said.

However, it seems that the acquisition has lost favor with resident golfers in the years since — if they supported it to begin with. A blog post titled Save Peninsula Golf Course on the course’s website, The Peninsula Post, warns, “Gloomy days ahead as the Town of Oyster Bay is preparing to take over the golf course via eminent domain. The plan is to run it as a South Shore golf course at the taxpayers’ expense. Is this the way you want to have tax dollars spent?”

A Town notice outlining the attempt of acquisition of the Peninsula Golf Course. (Photos courtesy of Peninsula Golf NY)

“This golf course was purchased in 1946 by a group of golfers who were veterans and heroes from WW2,” another post adds. “The town is now moving forward with its promise to take away our golf course and business. This is not right.”

As for the Town’s claim that the takeover is meant to stave off the property’s development of housing lots? It sounds like things are not so clear-cut. According to another post, “The fact is the course was never being sold and there is a covenant in place with Nassau County that the land must stay a golf course. The town has no grounds for the takeover other than to secure a South Shore golf course for the town to go along with its North Shore one.” It seems that the question of the Town’s motives — whether or not there were actual Town concerns of the course being redeveloped — are not universally accepted, and there is still a sizeable portion of club members who are not buying this explanation.

Regardless, the Town’s plans for acquisition are still on track. Changes to be made to course policy, pricing, and membership remain to be seen.

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