New ideas for outdated Bellport Country Club buildings

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A team of volunteers from Bellport commissioned a report detailing suggestions on how to rebuild the old, dilapidated buildings on the grounds of the Bellport Country Club. The working group is separate from the golf and tennis commissions, though it worked with golf chairman Britt Lawlor and tennis chairman Paul Warner and reported its findings to the village board last month.

The working group concluded that the buildings on the property, which are more than 100 years old, have deteriorated to a point of no return.

The golf course itself as it stands was completed 100 years ago by designer Seth Raynor and then opened as a private club. It fell into a state of disrepair during the Depression and was purchased by the village in 1943. The Otis Mansion was once located on the property but eventually torn down and renovated to be the current main clubhouse. But the original stables, barns and caretaker’s house have remained, turned into the women’s locker room, golf pro shop, bag and cart storage, and general operations.

As the structures were transformed for various uses, their architectural significance decreased. The village and the Bellport Historical Commission decided that the architectural elements could be reincorporated into new buildings.

“This is a watershed moment for the village,” said Mike Foster, a member of the working group, which created the report.

Foster said the group looked to create long-term solutions for the property. It looked at competing clubs and took different ideas into account. The group did not look at the main building, which houses the men’s locker room and the restaurant.

The report suggests demolishing the buildings that house the golf course functions and building new ones. One design suggests keeping the cart barn and general operations in about the same space, with new buildings, behind the ninth hole. The women’s locker room would be rebuilt to connect to the men’s locker room.

The cart barn could fit at least 60 golf carts and 400 bags and pull carts. Foster said the group would like to incorporate similar architecture from other areas of the course, like the ninth hole’s pump house, into the rebuild.

Another plan would also move the women’s locker room to connect with the men’s. It would move the golf pro shop to behind the main building in front of the first tee. The cart barn would be built on the northeast corner of the parking lot along South Country Road. It would also allow for a new tennis pro shop next to the court. Both plans retain about the same level of parking spaces.

Foster also explained that the group looked into ideas for alternative uses at the property, like a community pool or gym, which have been debated this year. He said there wasn’t any room for a pool on the grounds, having had an architect look at that option. He added that a gym could possibly fit, eventually depending on the rest of the layout.

The next steps in the process are to get cost estimates for the work, to look into the site’s current infrastructure and to get more detailed construction drawings. The process depends on which plan they decide, as the second plan, which separates all the buildings, wouldn’t require demolition right away and could be done in phases.

“There’s a lot of operational advantages of [the buildings] not being attached to each other,” Foster said. If the cart barn and the pro shop both move, there would not be any buildings left in their current location.

Mayor Ray Fell said the committee gave the board a lot of options. The board will be discussing how far it wants to go within the parameters of the needed work.

“The board over the next couple months has to decide where they would like to fall within this plan,” Fell said. n

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