With a shareholders vote expected by mid-October, the prospective new owner of the Westwood Country Club has made another pitch to its membership in an effort to help secure their deal.
Chief among the pledges being made by the operators of Windows on the Green is that they will keep the Amherst country club's golf course and pool as a "fully private, membership-based facility" from the date they assume ownership through at least Dec. 31, 2013. They insist there will be no public play on the golf course during that period.
Windows on the Green was selected by the Westwood's board of directors one month ago to purchase the club, however, some directors, shareholders and club members are advocating that an offer from Snyder Corp. might be a better financial package. Windows on the Green, Snyder Corp. and Amherst Golf Partners were all vying for the club.
Terms for the Windows on the Green offer were not disclosed, however, it is known that Snyder Corp. offered $3.5 million for the club. Windows on the Green, which already handles the food, beverage and catering operations at the Westwood has a right of first refusal clause for any offer made for the club.
Snyder Corp. is proposing using some of the Westwood's 186-acres to develop a hotel on the property, but they would maintain the 18-hole, par 72 golf course and historic clubhouse.
The financially-ailing Westwood has been seeking a buyer as it has been dealing with a dwindling membership and rising costs. Once one of the most prominent private clubs, the Westwood's has dropped to just 230 members, despite many attempts to add new golfers.
Westwood President Barry Singer said he expects the Windows on the Green contract to be finalized within the next few days. After that, the board will set a shareholders vote. Shareholders need at least 10 days notice of the meeting and subsequent vote.
"Putting a contract together takes time," Singer said. "We're anxious to do it. There is no hold-up, it's just a matter of the attorney's going over the details."
The Westwood has 88 shareholders among its 230 members. Any sale must be ratified by at least two-thirds of the club's shareholders, meaning 60 must support the offer.
The Sept. 22 letter that Windows on the Green, a team of Jon Cohen, owner of Johnny C's restaurant and catering service; developer John Yurtchuk and businessman Todd Sugarman, was deliberately sent to counteract rumblings making its way through the Westwood's membership, Yurtchuk said.
"Our desire is not to close the club," Yurtchuk said. "Our desire is to save the club and not run off and build a hotel on the property, which probably wouldn't get approved by the town any ways."
The letter backs up Yurtchuk's statement, pledging that "we have no intention of developing any portion of the golf course or the club's other members facilities."
Windows on the Green said yearly membership fees for active, family members will be $3,400 annually and $2,900 for individual golf memberships. Golf memberships include unlimited play.
Fees will be dropped for golf cart storage, bag storage, lockers and practice use facility. Unlimited pool use is included for current and active members.
Minimums for food and beverage will be eliminated.
Assessments will also be dropped. Yurtchuk said Windows on the Green ownership will fund any future improvements and upgrades.
"The whole point of the letter is to offer clarity to our position," Yurtchuk said.