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Special Town Meeting OKs Borrowing to Buy Tyngsboro Country Club

November 14, 2018

Tammy Garau, center, listens to a resident speak Tuesday at Tyngsboro's Special Town Meeting. Garau co-owns the Tyngsboro Country Club with her brother, Bobby Spindell. To Garau's right is her husband, Glenn Garau. SUN/Amaris Castillo Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

TYNGSBORO -- Special Town Meeting on Tuesday passed an article to borrow money to purchase the Tyngsboro Country Club, solidifying many residents’ interest in maintaining the property as open space and preserving the community’s small-town charm -- or perhaps finding another use for it.

The vote on Article 6 required a two-thirds vote, but the margin was overwhelmingly in favor with just 35 votes against. The article sought to raise, appropriate, or transfer from available funds, or otherwise borrow a sum of money not to exceed $5 million to purchase the property. The Board of Selectmen is now authorized to negotiate the purchase of the club currently co-owned by Tammy Garau and her brother, Bobby Spindell, contingent upon a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion question passing a town-wide ballot vote at the May town election.

Garau, who attended Special Town Meeting with her husband, Glenn Garau, declined to comment after the vote. She told The Sun last week that she wished the town had shown interest earlier. Garau has said that she and her husband would like to retire after decades of running the golf course.

For months, officials wrestled with what to do with regard to the approximately 85-acre property along Pawtucket Boulevard. Though Garau has said she and her brother are under agreement with Toll Brothers for the company to build a community for adults 55 and older, Tyngsboro has the right of first refusal because the property on which the Tyngsboro Country Club stands is under the state’s Chapter 61B program. The program gives preferential tax treatment to landowners who maintain their property as open space for recreation.

Town Administrator Matt Hanson shared last week that the town had received a revised proposal from Toll Brothers that would use only 27.8 acres of the property’s 90 acres for 66 units of housing. According to Hanson, that would allow the town to purchase the remainder of the golf course for open space or allow the golf course to continue to be run.

“The Board of Selectmen could have taken a vote on this issue, however, we are choosing to bring this matter directly to the residents due it to its lasting impact on the town,” Selectman Rick Reault told a crowd of residents at Special Town Meeting, which was held at Tyngsboro Elementary School.

Reault later stepped off the stage and walked up to the podium to express his support of the town purchasing the country club. He described it as a “valuable and irreplaceable resource in our town” and that he sees this as “an open space preservation opportunity.”

Glenn McCarthy, a resident, said he was opposed to the plan.

“I’m opposed to anything that has to do with a 2 1/2 override,” he said. “I feel that we’re taxed enough as it is right now.”

Several residents expressed hesitation to move forward at full throttle. Kathleen Spaeth, an outspoken resident, said she agrees that the town should look at purchasing the property but pointed out a few concerns.

“Do we have an appraisal on this property to know what the value of this property is?” Spaeth asked. “We also don’t have a feasibility study.”

Reault said officials have not had a feasibility study done but gestured to a PowerPoint slide with research information on an assessor’s value of the land.

“If you authorize the Board of Selectmen to negotiate a price, we have six months to get an appraisal and maybe some more information,” he said. “And we could present it to the town before they vote in May.”

A few residents said this was an opportunity that would only come once for Tyngsboro.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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