UPDATED: More info provided on Milford’s potential purchase of Rookery

This post was updated Jan. 21.

MILFORD — City Manager Mark Whitfield said he gets a lot of calls from people concerned about Milford’s potential purchase of The Rookery North golf course.

But many of these callers are missing important pieces of information, he said.

“Our interest in the Rookery has to do with water supply, and adding capacity to our water system,” Mr. Whitfield said in an email on Thursday.

“If — and I emphasize if — the City does purchase the Rookery, water impact fee reserves would pay for the purchase,” he said in the email. “Water impact fees are paid at the time of development/building, and there are sufficient funds available from previously collected impact fees to cover the purchase.”

The city manager said “water impact fees must be used for water system capacity increases only” and that “no borrowed funds would be needed for that purchase.”

He stressed that water impact fees cannot be to build a new police station.

“The police station and the potential Rookery purchase are not related in any way,” Mr. Whitfield said.

His email came about a week after he gave an update on the city’s inquiry into buying the property during a Parks & Recreation Advisory Board meeting Jan. 13, when Chairwoman Anne Villalobos was interested in hearing the latest about the proposal.

“I’ve heard murmurings of stuff happening with The Rookery,” she said. “Is there something going on with that?”

Mr. Whitfield said the city is examining its options.

“We have given The Rookery what we call a letter of intent,” Mr. Whitfield said. “There’s a number of things we’re looking at.”

Although he said “there’s more to come” on the topic, he hopes City Council will “have a decision before the end of February” about whether the city will buy the property.

“The price is still under negotiation,” Mr. Whitfield said the day after the meeting.

He said the main purpose of buying the site would be to use it for water.
“We do need a water source in the southeast part of the city,” Mr. Whitfield said. “What’s out there now, the southeast tower, is not adequate.”

Still, he added that the plot of land is not perfect.

“There are some challenges that we’re also looking at from an environmental standpoint with the fertilizers and the herbicides that have been used on the property over the years,” Mr. Whitfield said.

If the city does choose to move forward with buying The Rookery, it’s not clear what exactly the property would become.

“What I’ve encouraged council to do is take their time” in deciding what to do with the land, Mr. Whitfield said.

“I think it’s wrong to buy it with a preconceived notion of how it’s going to be used when we really haven’t taken a look and studied what all the needs are,” he said.

“This committee, as well as input from a lot of other citizens as to what they would like to see happen with that property,” is important in determining the property’s ultimate fate, Mr. Whitfield said.

Last week, he added that the clubhouse and restaurant element of The Rookery North is officially closed now.

“I just found that out last week,” when he went to go check on the property, Mr. Whitfield said. “They have signs on the door that say, ‘Permanently closed.’”

Butch Holtzclaw, The Rookery’s director of golf, announced in a letter last fall that the Rehoboth Boulevard location would not remain open into 2021.

This upset many golfers in the Milford area, who will now have to drive to either The Rookery South in Milton, Jonathan’s Landing near Dover or other various courses available Downstate.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted to remove Milford’s disc golf course at Silicato Park, given its poor condition.