WESTBOROUGH – There will be golf at the Country Club on West Main Street.
There will also be a pro shop.
However, there will be no restaurant.
Less than a week after the Select Board decided to not pursue a Request for Proposals to renew the Civic Kitchen & Drink’s lease, the town is trying to determine the next steps.
In a press release issued on Friday, Jan. 27, the town detailed the process in entering into a lease agreement with a vendor.
“The Westborough Select Board is authorized to enter into a lease agreement with a vendor to operate the restaurant space within the town-owned Country Club Building. The award of a lease agreement requires the board to conduct an open and competitive formal procurement process pursuant to public procurement laws,” according to the release.
In 2013, the board issued a Request for Proposals seeking to secure the services of a vendor to establish and operate a restaurant at the Country Club. The RFP invited proposers to offer a lease structure by which the monthly lease payment would be lowered by an initial capital investment in the building.
The bid was ultimately awarded to Golf Course Management Inc. for a period of approximately 10 years, commencing Sept. 15, 2013, and expiring on March 1, 2023. This lease agreement included a capital investment of $135,000 with a proposed lease payment of $120 per month, subject to an annual adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index. The lease payment previously went into the general fund as a revenue source but, since 2021, when the Building Maintenance Revolving account was established by Town Meeting, the lease payment goes into that fund.
In 2015, the board authorized the lessee to assign the lease to Civic Kitchen & Drink. Civic Kitchen & Drink has been the lessee under the same terms since that assignment, including assumption of the March 1, 2023, lease expiration.
Under procurement laws, the town cannot simply renegotiate or extend a lease with the current lessee. Instead, the board is required to again conduct an open and competitive formal procurement process, allowing any interested party to submit a proposal. The town initially anticipated issuing an RFP over the winter months with an award and lease in place immediately following the expiration of the current lease on March 1.
In April 2022, the restaurant experienced a plumbing issue which caused significant damage. As the building owner, the town filed a claim with its insurance company and began to identify the scope of necessary repairs to allow a resumption of use of the food preparation and food storage areas in the basement. Since these repairs would require closure of the restaurant for a period of time, Civic Kitchen & Drink used a temporary refrigerated trailer in order to stay open through October 2022 so that repairs could take place during the winter months.
During the same period, the town was going through a procurement process to complete an assessment of certain town-owned buildings, including the Country Club Building. This building condition assessment project was approved and funded at the May 15, 2021, Annual Town Meeting; it was anticipated that the assessment recommendations would be completed during a period of time between leases.
The assessment looked at the entire building, not just the damage caused by the plumbing issue, to understand the comprehensive needs of the building for its current use as both a restaurant and a golf pro shop.
The town received the completed draft report in December 2022, and staff met with the consultant to review the results in early January.
The recommendations from the assessment were more substantial and costly than expected. The assessment recommended significant improvements related to egress, fire blocking, sprinkler system and roof reinforcement. Additionally, a detailed electrical evaluation was recommended.
The total estimated cost of repair based on this initial evaluation came in at approximately $800,000, but did not include contingency or any changes to the building to better support current functions.
Therefore, at its meeting on Jan. 24, the Westborough Select Board chose not to issue an RFP at this time and instead recommended establishing a Country Club Building Committee to further consider the report, current use of the building and community needs and make a recommendation to the Board for next steps for this building.
The composition and charge of this committee will be discussed at the board’s Feb. 14 meeting.