Council considers long-term agreement with golf course
by David Atchison
Dec 09, 2013 | 884 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY – The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday authorizing the city manager to negotiate a possible long-term lease agreement with property owners of the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club.

The city is investigating the possibility of assuming the lease on the only 18-hole golf course and racquet club in St. Clair County.

Mayor Joe Funderburg said the property is owned by Dr. Larry Lemak and sons.

City manager Patrick Draper said the lease could cost the city about $6,700 a month, but the owners have offered to build a pool on the property.

Draper said with the construction of a pool, the lease payment would increase, and the city could be locked into a 10-year lease instead of a 5-year lease without the pool.

Pine Harbor community residents asked the council to consider leasing the property and making the private club public. The private club has had an operating deficit and cannot remain open.

Draper said he believes the city could at least break even by opening the club to the public.

St. Clair County Commissioner Stan Batemon said last week the commission could temporarily assist the city financially during the initial transition period of the golf course. He said the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club is a quality of life issue and an 18-hole golf course could help economic development recruitment in St. Clair County.

“It shouldn’t be difficult to make it self-sufficient,” Batemon said.

He said the club currently has an annual shortfall of $70,000-$80,000.

Draper said he hopes to be able to tell the council in January how many members the city will need to break even, once a lease payment price is finalized.

“This is a partnership,” Draper said, adding that members of the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club will have to help the city recruit new club members for the municipal golf and racquet club.

The council directed Draper to get two lease prices for the property, with and without the construction of a pool.

“We’re going to do the best we can,” Draper said about the property lease negotiations.

He said a pool could draw more people to the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club.

“We want to help, but we don’t want to jeopardize the city’s financial condition,” Councilman Terry Templin said.

The golf and racquet club is in Templin’s district.

Councilman Jay Jenkins said the city may have to offer a pay and play plan as well as memberships.

“We may not be able to support it all on just memberships,” he said.

Draper said he hope to be able to tell the council how many members are needed, as well as the number of rounds required to help pay for all the expenses, including the lease payment, so the operation can break even.

Draper said the proposed pool for the property is not considered the size needed by the city for a municipal pool.

At Monday’s meeting, the council also:

• Approved hiring Center for Municipal Solutions as consultants and administrators for the city’s wireless telecommunications ordinance.

• Approved moving forward with a contract with Communication Management Associates Inc. for services pertaining to recruiting cellular companies for micro-cell sites on municipal properties, like on the city’s light posts and buildings. The city attorney will draft an ordinance for the council’s consideration since the contract involves the private use of public property. The company will pay the city for the use of city properties.

• Approved moving forward with amendments to the 2009 International Building Codes the city adopted. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for the first council meeting in January for public comment.

• Approved contributing $3,500 to the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce to help fund a half triathlon next year.

• Approved accepting a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation for a sidewalk project in Glen City.

• Approved hiring Southern Control Systems to install energy conservation controls at City Hall.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.