Residents Mixed on Loss of Tyngsboro Golf Course
TYNGSBORO -- Residents have had plenty of reactions to the Tyngsboro Country Club being under agreement with a major home builder that hopes to transform the nine-hole golf course property into a community for adults 55 and older with 204 units.
“Well there goes the neighborhood!” one woman wrote on Tyngsboro Talk, a popular Facebook page.
Other residents are fed up with the idea of more housing developments in Tyngsboro and how it would affect traffic and other aspects of their quality of life. Ideas were exchanged of how else the property could be used, such as a park with a playground and central area for events. Others saw the positive, saying the offer would bring more jobs and revenue to Tyngsboro. They defended the country club’s co-owner Tammy Garau, saying she and her husband, Glenn Garau, deserve to retire in peace after having maintained the country club for decades.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Jeanne St. Hilaire, a Tyngsboro resident of 27 years. “There’s too many communities like that. There’s too many of them in town.”
Late last month, Garau shared that she’s under agreement with Toll Brothers to sell the property of approximately 85 acres. She co-owns the club with her brother, Bobby Spindell.
“My husband and I are getting older and we’re tired. We’re tired,” Garau said at the time. “We want to retire.”
Garau did not immediately respond Friday to messages.
The project proposed by Toll Brothers is a mix of town homes and detached single-family homes, according to David Bauer, the home builder’s division president. There are plans to also build on the property a clubhouse, walking trails, and sports courts such as pickleball and bocce.
But nothing has been set in stone. Toll Brothers’ first hurdle will be at fall Town Meeting when the company plans to bring forth a petition to rezone the property to allow for a 55 and older community.
“Obviously, the property is beautiful and it’s a very special property for the town and for the residents and we recognize that, and so we felt because of where it’s situated -- with great access to highways and great access to shopping -- we thought it was well-suited for a 55 and over destination that could provide housing to the aging population of Tyngsboro and the surrounding communities,” Bauer said.
Because the property on which the Tyngsboro Country Club stands is under the state’s Chapter 61B program, the town of Tyngsboro also has the right of first refusal.
“When you’re dealing with a property that’s in Chapter 61, there’s a set procedure and the procedure is that, if there’s an offer on the property, the town has the right to match that offer,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Rick Reault said. “That being said, Chapter 61 defines that the offer has to be a qualified offer and what that means is that the officer cannot have any contingencies. In this case, the contingency is that the company that wants to purchase the property will purchase the property if they can get project approvals through the town and that’s a whole other process.”
Reault recalled playing at the golf course as a child. He said he’d ride his bike to Tyngsboro Country Club with friends in the summer months.
Reault said he feels for the Garaus.
“They’ve done a beautiful job and they’ve provided a really nice golf course, very nice to look at, but everybody wants to retire at some stage of their life. They’ve worked very hard and they’ve earned that right to retire,” he said. “It’s impossible to determine what the next step is going to be.”
He later noted that it’s much more valuable for the owners to sell it to real estate developers than it is to sell it as a golf course.
Selectman Hillari I. Wennerstrom said the Board of Selectmen hasn’t yet made a formal decision about what to do.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property in town and I think people would love to see it remain either open space or active recreation or find some type of use for it other than a housing development, but obviously there’s a lot of moving parts to the town being able to afford buying the property and keep it in that condition,” Wennerstrom said.
At Town Meeting this fall, Selectman David Robson predicted there will be resistance to the project as it stands from some residents. He said he’d like to see the builder come forward with a proposal that incorporates open space.
“I’d like to see it try to stay open space,” he said, “but I see where the owners are coming from -- and the builders.”
Selectman Ron Keohane declined to comment and Selectman Steven Nocco did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Town Administrator Matt Hanson, the country club will be discussed again at an upcoming Planning Board meeting. If the town were interested in purchasing the property, Hanson said the most likely scenario would be a request for an override.
“But if we were to try and fund it without an override, it would severely limit our ability to do a lot of other projects,” Hanson said. “It would have to be some combination of CPC funds and other internal funds. Anything can be done. It’s just what are you willing to sacrifice for other projects?”
Jarret Frank, a Tyngsboro resident, said he isn’t thrilled about the idea of 204 housing units being added to the town, but understands that it’s a good source of revenue for Tyngsboro. If this were to move forward, Frank suggested that perhaps the home builder could carve out a portion of the land for a public park to maintain some open space.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.