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West Hartford Receives Grant for Replacement of Rockledge Golf Course Irrigation Pump

Rockledge Golf Course. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

At the June 30 state Bond Commission meeting, funding was approved to support an upgrade of the pump house at Rockledge Golf Course in West Hartford.

By Ronni Newton

A critical upgrade at West Hartford’s award-winning Rockledge Golf Course will be paid for in part with state funds, following the Bond Commission’s approval on June 30 of $150,000 to support replacement of the irrigation pump.

Prior to the Bond Commission’s meeting, the Town Council voted unanimously, 9-0, at its June 27 meeting on a resolution to appropriate funds from the Rockledge Capital Reserve Fund to replace the pump, which was installed in 1983 and projected to have a 25- to 30-year lifespan. Town Manager Rick Ledwith said the pump was well past its useful life, and maintenance crews faced a failure of one of the valves virtually every single day.

“We are at a catastrophic stage with this pump,” Ledwith said.

The pump is a critical component of the irrigation system, and without the ability to properly distribute water through the system, the golf course could face signifiant turf loss. A new pump will not only improve the quality of the golf course turf, but will also be more efficient, translating into water and energy savings.

Before the Council vote, Ledwith said that the resolution was approved, the work on the pump replacement would “start tomorrow.”

The total cost to replace the irrigation pump station is $201,748, Ledwith said, and the Rockledge Capital Reserve Fund – which is supported by an allocation of $2.00 from every cart rental, $1.50 from every 18-hole golf round, and $0.75 from every 9-hole golf round – had $217,728 available for appropriation for the project. The Capital Non-Recurring Expense (CNRE) Rockledge Capital Reserve Fund is intended to be used for course improvements and capital equipment purchases.

Ledwith told the Town Council that he was optimistic the state would approve the $150,000 just a few days later, but from a timing standpoint the resolution to appropriate the funds from the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget was important. The funds from the Rockledge Capital Reserve Fund will be replenished by the grant money, he said.

Members of West Hartford’s legislative delegation, who lobbied for the funding to be on the Bond Commission agenda, shared statements following the approval.

“Rockledge is one of West Hartford’s many great resources, and I’m glad our community is receiving the funds necessary to retain and improve its high quality,” said state Sen. Derek Slap. “I’m grateful to Gov. Lamont and the Bond Commission for their local investments.”

“I am thrilled that the town of West Hartford will receive funds from the state Bond Commission,” said state Rep. Bobby Gibson. “The Rockledge Municipal Golf Course is used by local residents as well as individuals from around the state, and the upgraded water pump will be greatly beneficial.”

“Rockledge is one of the preeminent public courses in the United States in addition to being vital open space for our community during the offseason,” said state Rep. Kate Farrar. “Upgrading the pump house, which is the heart of the irrigation system, will help maintain Rockledge as one of the town’s outdoor jewels.”

“Rockledge’s value to our community extends beyond the course, thanks to the open space for walking it provides during the offseason,” said state Rep. Tammy Exum. “Ensuring its irrigation system is properly maintained by upgrading the pump house will keep Rockledge positioned as a year-round hub of outdoor activity.”

“I’m so happy that we can support Rockledge Golf Course,” said state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest. “This funding will make much needed improvements to our town’s premier public golf course.”

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor also shared a statement following the Bond Commission approval.

“Rockledge Golf Club is recognized as one of the finest 18-hole public golf courses in the United States,” she said, not only the rated the “Best Public Golf Course” in the area for the past 12 years in a Hartford Magazine poll, but also listed as one of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play.”

“We are grateful to the State of Connecticut for recognizing our need to keep Rockledge in pristine condition by offering this grant that will allow us to make much needed improvements to the irrigation system,” Cantor said.

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