SICC members question huge budget for new clubhouse

SINGAPORE — The construction of a new 12,000sqm clubhouse at the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC), estimated to cost S$59.3 million, will be put to the vote by members in a few months’ time, but some are already grousing about the large budget set aside for the project.

To raise awareness for the new Bukit Town Club, the country club has an ongoing exhibition, complete with posters and three-dimensional models, at its Island site’s lobby near Upper Thomson and its Bukit site’s lobby near MacRitchie Reservoir.

The SICC website shows that there are various events planned ahead, such as organising dialogues and general meetings, as well as the voting exercise to be held from March to June.

After that, the club will evaluate a tender and award it between April and June next year. Construction will start thereafter, and the project is expected to be completed by July 2020.

Talk of the new clubhouse first surfaced in 2014, after the Government announced that the SICC would have to give up one of its two Bukit courses to the labour movement once the land lease expires in 2021.

The golf course will be open for public use then, along with the existing Bukit Leasehold Clubhouse. The land lease for the second golf course will be up in 2030, and no plans for it have been announced so far.

Back then, the SICC decided that a new clubhouse was needed at the Bukit site “to replace the lost facilities, including carpark lots” after the leases expire. Restaurants, changing rooms and added facilities for golfers are in the pipeline.

SICC member and semi-retiree Alan Fong, 71, said, “The model looks very grand. And if the (facilities) need to be improved, we should consider it, but I don’t know if it’s the right figure to spend (from the club’s finances).”

His sentiments were echoed by Ms Madeline Choo of brokerage Active Golf Services. “It’s not the building of the clubhouse, but it’s the amount being spent,” she said.

“Some old members think it’s a waste of money … while you cannot have a golf course without a clubhouse, the question is whether you build a S$60-million clubhouse or a S$10-million clubhouse.”

Businessman Daniel Lo, 56, a member of eight years, felt that the concept was a bold one, given that SICC has typically been a golfer’s haven instead of a social club. He was more concerned about the exclusivity of the clubhouse, since it would be on the same site as the soon-to-be public golf course.

“How do you control the public from encroaching on the space? You can implement rules and regulations, but let’s be realistic … Are you going to ban your neighbour if they walk past your doorstep?” he questioned.

The SICC had addressed this on its website by stating that the clubhouse would be self-contained and public traffic would have minimal impact.

A 32-year-old club member, who wanted to be known only as Wilson, wondered about the lifespan of the clubhouse, given that the lease for the second Bukit course would end in 2030. “What’s going to happen after 2030? Are they building this (to last just) for 10 years?” the management trainee asked.

In response to media queries, an SICC spokesperson would only say that the project was still in the development stage and has not been finalised.

By VALERIE KOH (valeriekohsf@mediacorp.com.sg)

Source: http://www.todayonline.com

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