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Golf course lease extended by 10 years

Cheektowaga Town Board members want to extend the lease with the operator of Diamond Hawk Golf Course to 40 years.

"It was in the initial agreement that we had with the golf course when it was passed four years ago," Supervisor James J. Jankowiak said.

The Town Board approved a 30-year lease with Garrett LLC in 2002. That agreement allowed for a two-year period to construct the Sonwil Drive golf course. A clause in the lease required the board to extend the lease shortly after the course opened. The town could have extended the lease 10 or 20 years.

"We're going with the minimum," Town Attorney Kevin Schenk said. "We can decide after the 10 years . . . whether we want to give it another 10 or if we want to take it over and lease it to someone else."

The Town Board on Monday night endorsed State Senate and Assembly bills that authorize the town to extend the lease. The home-rule message is necessary because the property where the course was built is considered town park land.

The terms of the lease required Garrett to pay the town $590,000 up front, which was the amount left to pay off bonds used by the town to purchase the property for the golf course.

The rent is $80,000 a year for the first 15 years, $88,000 per year for years 16 to 30 and $110,000 a year for up to the next 20 years, Schenk said.

The town owns the 198 acres where the golf course is located, and at the end of the lease, the town will own the golf course, according to the agreement. The supervisor said it is more economical for the town to have a private group run the course.

"When the golf course was voted down twice on referendum -- twice -- it showed the people of the Town of Cheektowaga do not want to be in the golf course business," Jankowiak said.

He said it benefits the town to have a "first class" golf course run by a private enterprise that pays revenues to the town.

"I'm sure that after the money and time they've invested, they'd like to continue to run the course," he said.

The $10 million 18-hole course opened to the public last August.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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