Plans to permit the sale of alcohol to golfers at the Longshore Club's ninth hole are on course.
The Golf Advisory Committee, acting Monday on a request by Parks and Recreation Department Director Stuart McCarthy, voted 4-1 to support McCarthy's application for a zoning variance to allow liquor to be sold at Cliff's Place, situated by the links' ninth-hole green. It is managed by Joey Romeo, who also operates Joey's By the Sea at Compo Beach.
Liquor is currently allowed on the course at Longshore, which is in residential zoning, but members must bring their own.
According to committee Chairman Fred Hunter, McCarthy also has been asked to seek a permit to allow the sale of liquor at the rebuilt Levitt Pavilion, which he said is also in a residential zone. He said McCarthy's hope is to kill two birds with one stone and seek the necessary variances for both municipal properties.
"The reality is if you look at the other courses that we compete against ... they all have liquor permits," Hunter said.
"If we get the permit and don't use it, that's fine, (but) at the same time we can do the town a favor by helping to join these two together," he said.
"I worry about who's going to monitor how much liquor is on the course," said member Jean Murdoch, who cast the dissenting vote.
"I don't understand why you would want to have liquor while you are doing an activity of sports," she added, noting that she does not drink alcohol. "I don't know how many of you enjoy having liquor while you're playing golf ... My husband drinks, but he doesn't drink on the course when he's playing."
"I have a real problem with it," Murdoch said, referring to potential problems of inebriated players and who would be responsible.
"I think it's incumbent upon us to be very clear that we will hold Joey (or other potential sales people) responsible," said member Scott Smith, if there were any drinking problems.
"We need to really have our ranger program have a little more teeth involved in getting golfers off the course for inappropriate behavior," said member Gary Solomon. "This committee could be that vehicle for deciding that as well."
Several people in the audience noted that securing a liquor permit would then prohibit golfers from bringing their own alcohol to the course.
"You're taking away something that has been a right of people playing Longshore for a very long time," said David Levin, adding that once a permit was granted it becomes state law that people can't bring their own liquor onto a premises.
"It's state law that if there's a concessionaire, you cannot bring your own," he said, nothing that there are cooler inspections at Smith-Richardson Golf Course in Fairfield to prevent people from bringing alcohol on the course.
Sean Doyle raised the question of revenue that would be generated by alcohol sales.
"I think in the future we're trying to figure out ways of keeping money in Longshore ... so will there be a way in the future of participating in the revenue stream?" he said, noting it could be a large amount.
Hunter noted that McCarthy's concern was that Cliff's Place could become a destination in itself, with some patrons coming there just to drink.
"How do we make sure that Cliff's Place doesn't become a destination for after golf and how do we make sure, in fact, that you have to be a golfer -- you have to be playing golf -- in order to get served at the halfway house?" he said.
"Those specifics have to be worked out in the future," he added, noting that the committee's approval to seek permission for a permit is only the first step.
"If we do the permit, the next step is an easy step," Murdoch said. "It's going to happen."
"It may and it may not," Hunter said. "We'll get a second bite at this apple at some point."