Old Avalon manager to move on

Wants to create smooth transition to new management company

WARREN — The owner of the management company operating the city-owned Old Avalon Golf Course said he is not walking away from the city’s golf course, but is working to prepare it for a smooth transition to a new management company.

Larry Petrozzi, whose Avalon South Management Co. LLC, has operated the golf course since being awarded the contract in October 2013, said his contract is scheduled to end at the end of this year and he will not renew it.

However, Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa, who negotiated the contract, disagrees, saying the contract states Petrozzi is responsible through Dec. 31, 2019.

The original contract was for five years, with the city having the option to extend it for another five years with the operator’s agreement.

During Wednesday night’s Warren City Council caucus, several council members told Cantalamessa they heard the equipment at the golf course had been moved out. Councilman John Brown, D-3rd Ward, added that he had been told the workers were being laid off.

Petrozzi on Thursday said he has not moved any of the equipment from the golf course off site. However, he did say his workers were being laid off.

“We are shutting down for the winter,” Petrozzi said. “We do this every year at about this time because so few people use the golf course this time of year.”

Petrozzi, an accountant, said he would not renew the lease on the golf course, because he does not have the time to do the day-to-day, hands-on management the facility requires.

He operates two dozen other companies, including his accounting firm and several nursing homes.

“I work 12 to 16 hours a day with the accounting firm,” Petrozzi said. “I do not have the time to put into the golf course.”

When he agreed to manage the golf course in 2013, Petrozzi was working with a partner, Bob Zehentbauer, who was expected to perform the day-to-day operations.

“This kind of arrangement has worked with my other businesses,” Petrozzi said.

It did not in this case because a disagreement caused the partnership to dissolve.

However, in the last three years, he said he put together a team that has made significant improvements at the golf course.

“The golf course is in much better condition today than it was when we took over,” Petrozzi said. “We now have leagues complimenting the condition of the greens.”

Petrozzi said he has invested approximately $200,000 into the golf course.

“I want this to succeed,” he said. “It took the majority of time we’ve been involved in this to get it to the condition it is, where leagues are now looking forward to using this course. Whoever gets it next should have a much easier time making it a success.”

“This is a very hands-on business,” Petrozzi said. “Someone has to be dedicated to its operations.”

Petrozzi said he is talking to two different people about taking over the management of the course.

Cantalamessa said whoever is considered for managing the golf course will have to show they can be financially liable for the course.

“They will have the same criteria for financial reliability that Petrozzi had when we negotiated the contract,” Cantalamessa said. “If they can prove that level of liability, then we may be able to move forward.”

If a new management team is brought forward before the end of Avalon South Management Co. LLC’s lease is completed, Cantalamessa said the city would like to have a multi-year agreement and not just finish the current contract.

“I would think whomever becomes involved would want a longer lease before making this kind of investment,” Cantalamessa said.

If the city is without a management company, Cantalamessa said council, like in 2013, will have to decide whether is is better to hire a manager for the course or attempt to sell the 129-acre property.

Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-at Large, said it would be best for the city to find a qualified company to manage the course.

“I think the city should maintain control of the course,” he said. “It is not costing us any money.”