Hooper Golf Club Continues Work For New Lease

Bellows Falls Shopper Feb. 28, 2012

Hooper Golf Club Continues Work For New Lease

WALPOLE, NH - The Executive Board of the Hooper Golf Club recently met at the Walpole Town Hall, to further discuss the progress in providing the Walpole Select Board with a new lease proposal that will satisfy all parties involved. The golf course was recently granted a one-year lease extension in order to provide time to find a solution, however, the extension has not yet been signed due to a tax clause that is in need of discussion and clarification.

Courtesy Photo

Last November a 10-person, special committee of Walpole citizens had been formed to advise on solving both the financial and legal problems facing the Hooper Golf Club. Resident Peggy Pschirrer was named chair and Drewsville resident Steve Dalessio vice chair of the committee, as the group prepared to find solutions to a settlement that dates back nearly 100 years.

"Negotiations between the Hooper Trustees and Hooper Golf Club are ongoing, until such time that the study committee makes their recommendation," Holly Piccirillo said in a recent interview. Piccirillo is the Hooper Board President and also a Walpole resident. "The one-year lease extension presented to the Hooper Board is also currently under review."

Back in the 1920's, Walpole resident George L. Hooper created a trust within his will to fund the Hooper Institute, a school geared towards agriculture, forestry and botany stretched over 148 acres of land. The trust also named the select board of Walpole to achieve the highest return possible in order to support the institute and other buildings on the property.

For over 80 years the trustees have leased the Prospect Hill Road property to the Hooper Gold Club, however, in recent years the portion of the golf course rent allowed under the trust, has not always met the needs of the property. This, in turn, has raised questions from the state Attorney General who over sees the provisions of trusts.

When the possibility of selling the property came up, the Hooper Golf Club and many Walpole citizens raised concerns about losing the golf course an what might become of the property. In fact, "Save Hooper' signs began popping up all over Walpole and throughout the local community.

"The people in this village have built up a strong connection to the Hooper Golf Club over its long history," Hooper golf pro Ron Rosko had said at the time. "I have yet to meet someone in support of the sale of Hooper Golf Club. I feel as though this is a case where the Walpole Selectmen and State's Attorney Generals Office will hopefully, listen to what the majority of Walpole Citizens have to say and want."

After an October 2011 meeting in which over 250 people attended to show their support of the Hooper Golf Club, creating the special advisory committee was put in motion to investigate options and make recommendations to the select board. A special "Save Hooper Fund" bank account was also created at Walpole Savings Bank so residents can donate. The funds are used for attorney fees, information gatherings, mailings and media to improve awareness.

"At the original informational meeting that was held held, the Select Board heard overwhelmingly from the town that the Hooper Golf Course should remain," Piccirillo added. "There were several proposals made that night for us (the trustees, select board and the Club) to try and find a common path to make that a viable solution.

"Hooper Golf Club is optimistic that the committee will provide a solution that allows for the golf course to continue to be an integral part of the town and local community." The next meeting to continue the process will be held in March.