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Waste Watch follow: changes coming to Monroe golf courses
by Jane Flasch
Rochester, N.Y. -- Two months after a 13 Wham "Waste Watch" investigation, Monroe County is taking back its three municipal golf courses and making other changes.
"This is a success story and it's good for the county and good for golfers," said golfer Eddie Gartz. He first raised questions about the condition of the courses three years ago. We first met him on the course at Durand Eastman in June.
Though there were plenty of golfers on the course, the snack bar was not open. But we did find a pit bull living there- tied to the open door to the kitchen with a water-filled plastic swimming pool within reach.
Gartz also pointed out diseased greens, craters on the fairways a foot deep, and lack of drainage work. They are problems he said were getting worse every year. "This is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage that will one day have to be repaired," he said.
Management of the courses was outsourced 17 years ago to a company run by Jack Tindale. 13Wham news obtained maintenance records and other documents under the freedom of information act which raised questions about the lack of maintenance and capital improvements.
The questions involved hundreds of thousands of dollars of services taxpayers contracted for, but may not have received. The contract is the subject of an audit by NY Comptroller.
"We felt it was in our mutual interest to retire that contract early," said Monroe County Parks Director Larry Staub. He said the contract will end at the end of this year, three years early. He insists taxpayers received every cent they had coming.
Jack Tindale could not be reached for comment.
Moving forward Monroe County will seek a new vendor to run the golf, front end, and restaurant services. The county will take back maintenance of the three courses at Durand, Genesee Valley, and Churchville. "They're not in horrible shape but we do need to do some TLC," said Staub.
He says the county runs 27 parks so this is a "no-brainer" for taxpayers.
Monroe County says the decision to change the way of business was made after several meetings with the Tindale Corporation. The August date coincides with word management of the contract was being audited by the NY State.
Asked whether the audit had any bearing on these new developments, comptroller spokesman Brian Butry responded via e-mail: "We regularly keep local officials informed of our audit work and they often start corrective action while the audit process in on-going."
Staub put it this way: "When you want to talk about active management- I think that this very clearly demonstrates that the county is in control and is actively managing this contract."
'I'm really grateful to Channel 13 for running the investigation," said Gartz who said he had difficulty in trying to shine a light on the things he was finding out. "I believe the story brought attention to the fact that we really need to make changes. It was good for us, good for golf, and good for taxpayers of the county."