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TOWN VOTE ON GOLF COURSE RUNS INTO SNAG

Delays in the state environmental review of plans for a $5 million project to build a golf course at Joseph Davis State Park have ruled a referendum on the project off the Nov. 4 ballot.

The Town Board Monday voted to advertise that a public hearing on the project -- scheduled for Oct. 18, has been postponed indefinitely while the state finishes the required review to ensure that all the changes at the park will be environmentally sound.

Although the board members did not formally withdraw the referendum from the Nov. 4 ballot, the vote legally cannot be held until after a public hearing.

Last month, the board voted to borrow $5 million to build the golf course and promised that the matter would be put up to a townwide vote.

"It never ceases to amaze me the way that those wheels grind so slowly," said Supervisor Thomas E. Sharp.

However, Sharp said, the setback would give the town engineer and the committee formed to study the golf course project time to work on ideas for the park, including applying for grants to help pay for it.

Town Engineer Robert A. Gallucci said that he was not shocked that it is taking longer than town officials had hoped for the state environmental review.

No one from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation attended Monday's meeting. Gallucci and a few other town representatives are meeting with state officials Oct. 16 to discuss finalizing the master plan for the entire park.

The Town Board drew mixed reactions from those who attended an Aug. 4 public hearing on the Grand View Golf Course proposal.

Councilman Harrison L. Coppock, chairman of the committee formed to study and develop the golf course, said he expects that the environmental studies should be done by March or April. "We had just taken it for granted, and now we find they can't complete" the State Environmental Quality Review application, he said.

"I was very disappointed. I mean, we spent two years since Oct. of 1995 and it took two years just to get the lease agreement," said Coppock.

Coppock also said it will cost the town extra money to hold a separate referendum on the matter. An Election Day vote wouldn't have incurred any extra expense since the polling places already would have been staffed.

He added that the only thing to do now is to wait for the state Office of Parks to finalize the environmental review of the park. He said he was surprised that the state had not yet completed its review.

In another matter, the board set 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 for trick-or-treating in the town.

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