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The Town of Yorktown has officially severed ties with the developer of a new Par 3 golf course in Jefferson Valley for failing to correct numerous building code violations and not opening the facility as promised.
The action by the Town Board last week came as no surprise since the board voted in early September to terminate a Concession Agreement with RC Recreation Department, LLC if it was unable to clear up outstanding violations and expired mechanical, plumbing and renovation permits, and open the town-owned park by Nov. 15.
“The developer has vacillated from giving us four false reopening dates to claiming that our contract does not require him to give us a projected opening date. It’s clear to the Town Board that this company is an unreliable partner that is either incapable of redeveloping our golf course or unwilling to do so in a reasonable time frame,” said Supervisor Matt Slater.
On Nov. 15, town inspectors visited the golf course and found electrical hazards and many unresolved violations cited in July, including people illegally living in trailers, unsafe bridges, and plumbing issues. Parks Superintendent James Martorano told the Town Board some of the recent shoddy work at the nine-hole golf course included laying the sod on the golf greens before installing the irrigation system, which sits unassembled on the property.
“I don’t see this golf course opening with this group within the next two years, realistically,” Martorano remarked.
Yorktown Recreation Commission Chairman Matthew Talbert told the board the prolonged closure of the golf course has been frustrating, noting how other projects in town, such as the Lowe’s shopping center, have been completed in the interim.
“It’s not being managed properly, and to move forward with this group is not in the best interests of the town. I’m sad, because I like the people that are there, it’s just that they’re not getting the job done,” Talbert said.
The property has not been used since 2007 when Shallow Greek Golf Course shut down. In 2014, town officials entered into a 10-year agreement with RC Recreation to restore the site as Valley Fields Golf Course, but progress stalled when RC President Rocco Cambareri died in 2017.
In 2018, the lease with RC was extended to 2028 when one of Cambareri’s partners assumed control. In 2020, Valley Fields was fined by the state for doing work without a required permit. A 2021 spring or summer possible opening never materialized. In December 2021, the town’s Planning Board approved the site plan for Valley Fields.
After the golf course failed to open as promised on July 4 weekend, Building Inspector John Landi issued a stop work order to RC, outlining 18 “barebones necessities” that needed to be resolved before golfers could be on site.
Landi also revealed that two campers had been planted on the property for more than a year, with one allegedly being used as a dwelling. When Landi and Yorktown Police visited there was evidence of someone living in the camper and they were ordered to leave.
Ironically, on Nov. 16, a road rage incident on Route 202 and Stony Street led to the arrest of a man illegally squatting at the golf course.
Yorktown Police arrested Dennis Flynn, 57, and charged him with two misdemeanor counts of menacing and endangering the welfare of a child. According to police, Flynn was involved in a dispute with a motorist and is accused of displaying a large butcher’s knife and threatening to kill the motorist in front of his child.
After his arrest, Flynn told police that he lived at 795 Route 6, the address of the Par 3 Golf Course.
“This is another sad chapter in this terrible saga. Anyone in town who has tried to work with this group won’t be surprised by this. It is time for this bad actor to get out of our town,” Slater remarked. “Their performance has been a failure and this latest incident is completely unacceptable.”
RC filed an Article 78 proceeding in state Supreme Court in July accusing town officials of using a “Keystone Cops approach to local zoning enforcement” and engaging in a “politically motivated campaign.” RC specifically named Slater, Councilman Sergio Esposito and Landi.
“Slater, Esposito and Landi have not hidden their desire to replace RC at any cost, regardless of the existing contract, and along the way have not only engaged in conduct that is arbitrary and irrational and contrary to law, but have also breached the contract in several respects and violated RC’s rights to procedural and substantive due process, and the right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures, under the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments in the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states.
In the lawsuit, RC maintains the redevelopment of the course has “from time to time been delayed by external and unanticipated factors, be they insect infestations, COVID-19-related shutdowns, and supply chain disruptions.
The Town Board is seeking Requests for Proposals from other vendors to operate the golf course.
“Everybody has really tried to work with this group,” Esposito said last week. “It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been reciprocated. We were all on board trying to get this group to succeed.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/