Highland Park Run

Runners take to the greens of the former Highland Country Club in Attleboro in April during a race to mark the official opening of Highland Park.

Who doesn’t like going to the mailbox and finding a check? I certainly do.

That experience was bittersweet when I sorted through the mail a couple of weeks ago and found an envelope from the law firm of Madoff and Khoury in Foxboro.

The envelope made it obvious that it contained a check; I also knew that they were the firm handling the disbursement of funds from the sale of the former Highland Country Club.

The check was the second I had received for still being a member of the club on Dec. 31, 2017.

The first was received in July for the $500 bond I was required to purchase when becoming a member back in 1985. The check included interest of $12.75, most likely for the time since the city of Attleboro purchased the property the previous year.

I suppose I should be thankful that the developers who won the bid to purchase the club were willing to pay more than was owed to creditors when Highland’s board of directors filed under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy laws on Jan. 24, 2018.

That almost didn’t happen.

A group of members had stepped up and offered to buy the club toward the end of 2017 and members were asked to post 25 percent of their dues for 2018 in advance to help the potential new owners determine if there would be enough money to financially support the club throughout the year.

In my case, the amount of the “Winter Fee” payable by Jan. 11 was $1,026 with the understanding that the money would be held in escrow in the event there wasn’t enough interest.

Unless you’ve been lost in one of the seven-foot weeds now growing in the former pristine fairways you know how that worked out.

A number of members without the historical and sentimental ties to Highland — including some serving on the board at the time — had already agreed to join other private clubs.

Tamposi Bros. Holding LLC is the reason why I received the second of the two checks.

Their bid of nearly $3.1 million was matched by the city, a move the city could legally make because of a decision made decades ago to tax the Highland property as recreational.

The city, of course, did buy the property and is using it as the home of cross country track for Attleboro and Bishop Feehan high schools. In addition, the former sixth and eighth fairways are being transformed into a staging area and parking for workers constructing the new high school down the street.

There have been many opinions where the excess money the city bonded should have gone.

A financial person I know told me that, as a not for profit, it could be argued that the former members shouldn’t receive more than the amount they paid to buy a bond, plus whatever interest accumulated.

Someone else told me the money should have been split between everyone holding a bond. The bylaws, however, stated that excess money should be split by active members in good standing.

I’m not writing this because I was one of the people who put up the “Winter Fee” when requested, but I believe those were the members who were loyal to the club until the very end and the only people who should have had a share of the excess funds.

It bothers me to think the people who bailed and forced the decision to declare bankruptcy received a penny more than their bond money and interest.

My check, number 12786 issued on Aug. 21 in the amount of $3,392.19, sat on the table in our breakfast nook for a couple of weeks before I finally endorsed and deposited it into our checking account.

I hesitated because I knew the deposit would be my last act as a member.

It was the one time in my life when I’ve regretted making a deposit.

Peter Gay is the Executive Director of North Attleboro Community Television Inc. — North TV. The views expressed in his column are not necessarily those of North TV. He may be contacted at pgay@northtv.net.

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