02/26/04 — Broken window payoff

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Broken window payoff

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 26, 2004 1:59 PM

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH -- Goldsboro City Council members each paid $20 of their own money Wednesday to end an ongoing discussion about broken windows.

For months, City Councilman Charles Williams has talked about windows broken by errant golf balls at three houses near the Municipal Golf Course -- 1205 Simpson St., 216 Winslow Circle and 1505 King Drive.

It would cost less than $100 to fix the windows for all three homes.

Though the council, the city attorney and the city manager had told Williams that the city shouldn't be liable for the damages, he persisted in bringing the subject up at several work sessions.

Williams asked City Manager Richard Slozak to find out what other golf courses do about similar damages.

Slozak found that the problem was not unique to Goldsboro, but that of the 15 golf courses he researched, including several in Greenville, Wilson, Raleigh, Wilmington and Wallace, no golf course assumed liability for broken windows.

City Attorney Harrell Everett said there was nothing in the design of the course that would cause accidents, and that there was no negligence on the city's part because a buffer of trees separates the houses from the course.

The buffer is about 40 feet wide and composed of pine trees 40 feet or more tall.

Since learning of the broken windows, the city installed warning signs on tee boxes and along the fence line to inform golfers of their responsibilities for stray balls that could cause damage.

Slozak also looked into putting netting around the area, but said it wouldn't stop the balls that went over the trees. The cost of installing netting would be about $67,000.

"I've heard some of the people say they wouldn't want netting," Williams said. "They want to view the beauty of the golf course, but they're concerned when damages occur. They want to make sure they're paid for."

Another possible solution offered by Slozak was to place a $10 assessment fee on members to generate a fund for these kinds of problems.

Councilman Chuck Allen said that it was ridiculous for a $100 issue to come up every month.

"Look at some of the really nice developments," said Councilman Bob Waller. "A lot of people pay more money to be on a golf course."

Councilman William Goodman suggested that each councilman pay $20 out of his own pocket and "be done with it."

The rest of the council agreed and the money was given to Slozak to reimburse the three homeowners.

"This has been about the 10th time you've brought this up," Allen said to Williams. "It's worth paying this just to get him to stop talking about it."