By LIZ BUTTON
The city is expected to hire Rye Golf Club Strategic Committee chairman Peter Marshall to finish out the year as general manager of the club, pushing interim manager Jim Lopolito to the sidelines.
City Manager Scott Pickup said in meetings, conversations and discussions, both formal and informal, amongst the seven-member Rye Golf Club commission, City Council members and city staff, Marshall’s name was mentioned as a successor to Lopolito at the club, which is one of the city’s two enterprise funds.
Pickup said any formal recommendation from the golf commission, which functions as an advisory board but has no authority over golf club operations, will not come until Oct. 23 at the next regularly scheduled commission meeting, but sources close to the situation indicate the move from Lopolito to Marshall is imminent.
The city manager has the sole power to hire and fire any city employees, according to the city charter. Lopolito was hired on an interim basis in January with a one-year contract after it was revealed last fall that club members had been allegedly bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by former club manager Scott Yandrasevich through shell staffing companies he set up. Yandrasevich resigned from his position with the city-owned golf club in January.
Marshall is retiring from his position as chief financial officer of Sweet & Low. He was appointed as chair of the city’s strategic committee, which was created to suggest which structural and operational changes to make at the club after the financial scandal was uncovered.
In this, Marshall was helpful with the strategic planning process, and the city has discussed formalizing some sort of agreement about possible future employment with him, Pickup said.
According to sources, that future employment appears to be as club manager following an interim stint to help finish out the year.
“We have talked about a lot of ways to engage Peter’s help,” Pickup said. “He has certainly offered his time and experience to us in a lot of different ways. Certainly, we want to continue to have his expertise.”
City and club officials have talked about finding a permament replacement for the club manager position. To date, there had been no prior public discussion of appointing a person to manage the club through the remainder of the year. There has been growing concern with the current management of the club and its facilities with recent revelations that the Whitby Castle is heading toward a signficant year-end deficit.
Meanwhile, Pickup said the city plans to fulfill Lopolito’s contract as written, so Lopolito will stay on the grounds doing day-to-day operational duties and programming while Marshall helps more with profit and loss and financial analysis.
Some club members say the quick behind-the-scenes process disregards any efforts at transparency, which is at the root of the controversy surrounding the club.
Republican councilman and mayoral candidate Joe Sack, who is liaison to the golf commission, said the club desperately needs someone who has long-term potential to step into the position.
Sack said he wants “someone with Peter’s qualifications, someone who can step into an extremely unique situation.”
“I think it is going to be awfully hard to find someone to take this job under the circumstances we have,” The councilman said. “This is especially true because the job could be obsolete in six months if the city issues a [request for proposals] to outsource the management of Whitby Castle and the city…ends up hiring a company.”
At an Oct. 16 Rye Golf Club Finance Committee meeting, after press time, a discussion was slated to take place about signing a consulting contract to hire a headhunting firm or to hire Marshall, but no one will vote on anything until the full council is present at the regular golf commission meeting, Pickup said.
The rest of the commission is a mixed bag in terms of their views on hiring Marshall to finish out the end of the year as manager, but a good number are on board with that particular scenario, Pickup said.
Although there is not yet a consensus of opinion among the commission and golf club members on this, there is consensus that there should be a new permanent manager as soon as possible.
“I think that it is one of those situations where the solution is right under our noses. We shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Sack said.
Interim manager Lopolito could not reached for comment as of press time.