June 26. 2013 10:36PM

New drainage would prevent flooding at Manchester's Derryfield Country Club

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — A Concord engineering firm has proposed building new drainage lines along several holes of Derryfield Country Club that, after storms, often see the southeast portion of the course closed because of flooding.

Fred Mock, vice president of the McFarland Johnson engineering firm, told about 35 Derryfield members at a meeting Wednesday that the firm has proposed installing slit drains on lower holes. Slit drains involve digging a network of narrow tracts inlaid with pipes and sand to drain away excess water. He said the water would all drain to a culvert between the 16th hole and Hanover Street.

The proposed project also calls for expanding the course’s irrigation system and improving tees, greens, cart paths and bunkers on the eastern half of the course, which is split by Mammoth Road. The city of Manchester owns the course.

The drainage problems have driven away members and put pressure on the golf club’s finances. The club was generating a surplus that went into the city’s general fund for years, until 2007, when the city entered into an agreement with BLL Restaurant Inc. to bond construction of a new country club complex. The building now houses The Derryfield restaurant and function hall, whose owners have a $127,073 lease agreement with the city.

Payments on the bond have been pushing the golf course, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, into the red.McFarland Johnson has a $250,000 contract to design the project and work with city staff to obtain permits from the state Department of Environmental Services and Army Corps of Engineers.

Mock and Peter Capano, chief of the city Parks and Recreation Department, said a proposed construction schedule would have work begin in the late fall of one season with most of the irrigation work, then continuing in the following spring with the rest of the work. Capano said that, if funding and permits are approved quickly, work could begin in the fall of 2014.

He said the course would operate as a nine-hole course for a season, with members being offered a reduced rate during the construction year and the following year.

“We’re thinking about ways to hold onto the membership that we have,” he said.

Capano and other city staff at the meeting said they did not want to reveal potential cost estimates, but Alderman Daniel O’Neil said construction costs would be “as low as $2 million and as high as $4 million.” Funding for the project would depend on approval from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“How do you plan to get the rest of the aldermen, in lieu of the financial state of this city, to want to spend money on a project for Derryfield golf course,” asked one man in the audience.

Bill Cullity, a member who founded the Save the Derryfield Golf Course group, was one of several people who answered that they and city staff have to show the Board that the improvements would pay off with increased membership and use of the course. He said the southeast, or “lower” holes, were closed for 56 days in 2012 because of flooding.“I think this is great. It’s about time,” he said of the proposed improvements. “There is a lot of attention being paid to Derryfield golf course and rightfully so. It’s the gem of New Hampshire.”