Revival begins at Golfland in Vernon

Anthony Branciforte, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
·2 min read

May 4—VERNON — The Golfland revival announced last fall is in progress, with construction underway and the onsite ice cream shop likely opening in the next few weeks, town Economic Development Coordinator Shaun Gately said.

Located near the Manchester town line on Route 83, the original business — which included mini-golf, go-karts, and an arcade — closed in 2014 after 50 years in operation. The onsite Subway restaurant remains open and never closed.


STATUS: Construction underway

CURRENT PLAN: Phased opening, with the creamery being completed first

FULL OPENING: Projected for the fall

In September, business partners Steven LaMesa and Jerry Fornarelli announced plans to bring back an expanded version of the iconic recreation site that would also include a creamery, a restaurant, and lawn games, such as bocce and horseshoes. Their site plan of development and several special permits were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in October.

Fornarelli owns three downtown Hartford bars the Russian Lady, the Tavern Downtown, and the Rocking Horse Saloon, while LaMesa's company, Hartford-based MGC Developers, builds amusement areas similar to the former Golfland business throughout the country. While LaMesa's company typically does not own and operate the properties after constructing them, he has said he wants the new Golfland to be his owner-operated "showcase."

The ice cream shop, Fornarelli said, will include all homemade ice cream. Gately said that would be the first part of the business to open, but there has been progress on other onsite facilities.

The foundation for the planned restaurant and game room has been installed, and a maintenance building is ready to be constructed following the completion of the ice cream shop, Gately said. While the original goal was to open the entire Golfland facility this summer, Gately said the developers are now aiming for completion in the fall.

"Building materials are sometimes hard to get at this point, so they're a little behind schedule," he said.

LaMesa has said he remembers visiting the original Golfland as a child, and his disappointment upon learning of its closure helped inspire him to revive the site.

Gately also said he has fond memories of visiting Golfland many years go.

"I'm just excited to see Golfland come back," he said. "It was an important part of the community for many years. I know I used to go there when I was growing up and I know countless others have as well, so it'll be nice to see a new and improved version."

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