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Amsterdam golf pro claims termination of contract improper

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
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— A lawsuit filed by the recently departed golf pro at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course contends the city lacked authority to end his service because non-city residents are seated on the city’s Golf Commission.

The complaint, filed in state Supreme Court in Montgomery County on Nov. 4, comes at a time when the city government is considering new management for the 18-hole course at the northwestern edge of the city.

The city is reviewing proposals for food and beverage service, pro shop management and golf course management and maintenance at the 182-acre site designed by Robert Trent Jones.

PGA pro Joseph Merendo’s five-year contract expired Oct. 31 and the city the Golf Commission did not give him a chance to renew it, a move Merendo contends was improper because the commission “is without authority to act, as it has appointees that were unlawfully appointed and as a result cannot serve.”

City Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said he received the complaint.

He acknowledged that there are members of the Golf Commission who live outside the city’s boundaries, but he said the claim that the Golf Commission must be filled with city residents is debatable.

Merendo could not be reached Monday for comment for this story.

The city signed a new contract with him in 2008, running from April 2009 through Oct. 31, 2013.

It included a $21,500 salary with a $500 raise each year afterward and extended the contract from the typical three years to a five-year agreement.

Mayor Ann Thane on Monday said she’s heard complaints from residents suggesting Merendo’s contract termination was sudden. But she said the golf course and its management have been a topic of discussion for several years.

The city earlier this year took a firm step toward establishing new management by issuing a request for proposals.

In addition to seeking new operators, the city is looking to draw more visitors to the course during the off-season, according to the RFP. It is open for golfing from April through October, but has also been a destination during the winter for people looking for sledding and cross-country skiing opportunities, according to the RFP.

The venue boasts a 100-seat dining room with space for 60 more outside on the 2,200-square-foot patio, in addition to a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with a bar, locker rooms and a kitchen.

Thane said the Common Council will be reviewing responses to the RFP in upcoming weeks.

Merendo, who began as golf pro in Amsterdam in 1986, is among those who submitted proposals in response to the RFP.

 
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