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New leadership for Goat Hill

JULIE LANE PHOTO Changing of the guard at Goat Hill, as Marc Scola (left) takes over as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shelter Island Country Club from Ron Lucas.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Changing of the guard at Goat Hill, as Marc Scola (left) takes over as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shelter Island Country Club from Ron Lucas.

When Marc Scola was approached to run for chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shelter Island Country Club (SICC), he assumed there would be other candidates. But when members recently gathered to elect their new officers, Mr. Scola was the sole candidate.

He succeeds Ron Lucas who joined the board in 2006 and has been its chairman for four years. Leading the board, Mr. Lucas has made difficult decisions that has put the SICC on firm financial footing.

Thanks to decisions he and the board have made, the country club’s coffers have more than $30,000, and that’s after paying back a $10,000 bridge load provided by the town when the SICC was struggling to keep operating. The town owns the Goat Hill property and leases it to the nonprofit country club for $1 a year.

There’s been turnovers in the management of club’s the restaurant over the years, with Fresh closing just before Labor Day in 2013. It was succeeded by Fairway in 2014 and VUE in 2015. In 2016, it was the Endless Grille, but after a single season, operator Peter Ambrose pulled out.

Contracts with operators of the various restaurants gave profits to managers from food, but bar profits were kept by the country club. Owners of the restaurant said it was difficult to share the space with the club retaining bar profits.

In 2017, Mr. Lucas and his board made the decision to bring on John DeLeo, who opened The Flying Goat on a three-year contract that would give him control over both the restaurant and bar.

The board made “a hard decision,” Mr. Lucas said. “Psychologically, it was tough but we came down to a business decision,” he added, referring to the contract signed with Mr. DeLeo.

That decision proved to be effective in helping the club become solvent and The Flying Goat to operate profitably. Mr. Lucas credited Island attorney Cathy Ann Kenny with writing the agreement with Mr. DeLeo that helped put the club on positive footing with the restaurant operator.

“We’re not out of the woods by a long shot,” Mr. Scola said. But he feels that the previous board laid the groundwork for what will be a solvent and successful operation.

“The pressure’s on to maintain it,” Mr. Scola said about the challenge his reconstituted board has.

Greens that were said to be in deplorable condition have been restored, Mr. Lucas said. He credited Brian Lechmanski, who he said has been doing the work of three people, and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. with helping to improve the greens.

Looking forward, Mr. Scola said he plans to push for enhanced involvement among the Island’s summer community, and also wants to launch some programs for kids — not tournaments, but targeted events to bring them to the country club.

He’s enthusiastic about the deal the previous board struck with Shelter Island School to bring the cross country teams to practice and hold meets on country club grounds.

The SICC board compiled a wish list that included some equipment that could be replaced, Mr. Lucas said.

Mr. Scola described himself as a thrifty Yankee who believe that whatever can be repaired should be rather than purchasing new equipment, but his board will be looking at that wish list to make decisions in the future.

“We’ll try to keep the momentum going and have some fun doing it,” Mr. Scola said. “I’ll be a work in progress,” he added about taking over the leadership role.

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