By SCOTT JACKSON
The developer behind Granite Links on Monday pressed pause on his request for a 99-year lease extension, citing the timeline for planned improvements to the intersection of Ricciuti Drive and Willard Street.
Mayor Thomas Koch in 2022 submitted a home rule petition to the City Council that, if approved, would have allowed the city and Quarry Hills Associates, the operators of Granite Links, to enter into a 99-year lease extension for the 242-acre property off Ricciuti Drive. Councillors held a pair of public hearings on the matter, one in November and the other in February, during which time a number of residents raised concerns about the lease extension.
In Monday’s letter to city councillors, Quarry Hills Associates President Thomas O’Connell said he “thought it best to pause the lease extension at this time.”
“Given the current projected timeline regarding the Ricciuti Drive intersection safety improvements, Quarry Hills has made the decision to request the withdrawal of QHA’s request for a 99-year lease extension,” O’Connell said.
“Over the past year QHA has attended and presented at numerous Quincy City Council meetings, conducted public on-site meetings and tours, met with citizens both from and outside Quincy and met with every city councillor individually. We have listened to the voices of our fellow citizens, our customers, and members of the City Council.
“There remains legitimate safety concerns regarding the Ricciuti Drive intersection that must be addressed as a component of the overall corridor planning efforts, and we look forward to participating in that public process. We recognize that it will take time for the MassDOT process of infrastructure study and planning to correct the Ricciuti Drive intersection deficiencies, and that time frame appears to coincide with the current challenging economic climate. As a result, I thought it best to pause the lease extension proposal at this time.”
(A spokesperson for the mayor did not immediately return a request for comment Monday afternoon.)
MassDOT held a community meeting in August to review plans to address the intersection of Ricciuti Drive and Willard Street, which is located at the bottom of the hill upon which Granite Links was constructed. Officials said the design of the intersection improvements – which will include a new traffic signal, changes to the geometry, bike lanes and other features – should be finalized by May 2025. The timeline for work on the $1.5 million project, the cost of which will be borne by the federal and state governments, has yet to be determined.
While O’Connell has withdrawn his request for the lease extension, on Monday he indicated that Quarry Hills Associates would honor the commitments it made to the community during the public process.
“Please know that we will fulfill our commitments to (i) upgrade the ballfields at the end of this playing season and (ii) install the enhanced hiking trail signage this year,” he wrote in the letter to city councillors, adding “We believe that all interested parties have a fuller understanding of the breadth of lease obligations that QHA delivers upon throughout the year, regardless of the season.”
In the future, O’Connell said Quarry Hills Associates “will invest the time to prepare a conceptual development plan with supporting data.”
“That will allow us to discuss potential development projects more comprehensively, as well as the resultant projected lease revenue increases to the city,” he said.
“We appreciate the open and candid conversations regarding the 99-year lease extension request and look forward to continuing those discussions in the future.”
The city’s current 50-year lease with Quarry Hills Associates was approved in 1994 and amended in 2002, city officials said previously. Under the current lease, the city receives 10 percent of all gross golf-related revenue the club generates and 10 percent of all other net revenue from the facility, including functions and food and alcohol sales. Between 2002 and 2022, the city received $7.6 million in rental payments from the club, including $825,000 last year, a representative from Granite Links told city councillors in February.