Pine Harbor asks for more time to raise membership
by David Atchison
Dec 20, 2013 | 2117 views |  0 comments | 85 85 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home
PELL CITY – Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club members were tasked to increase membership after city officials said it would cost about a half-million dollars a year to operate and maintain the facility.

“We can’t give you 200 members between now and January,” said Lloyd Yonkers, who serves as the club president. “Give us a year to raise membership to 200.”

Currently, the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club has about 100 members.

Members of the club have asked the city to take over the private club and make it into a public one, or the only 18-hole golf course in the county would be forced to close.

The club’s lease on the property, which is owned by Dr. Larry Lemak and sons, ends Jan. 31.

City officials have talked to the owners about the city possibly leasing the property and taking over the club.

About 50 members of the club attended Thursday’s council work session when City Manager Patrick Draper said it would cost the city between $500,000-$600,000 a year to maintain and operate the facility. That amount includes a golf pro or manager to oversee the golf course.

He said the city would need to bring in enough money to break even.

“I cannot recommend the council going into the hole,” Draper said.

He told supporters that all he is asking is that club members seek out new members and have people sign the city’s pledge form.

Members said if the club went public, more golfers would join and play at Pine Harbor.

Draper said it would cost the city about $80,000 a year to lease the property or about $6,700 a month under a proposed five-year lease agreement. The city or the property owners could get out of the lease with 90-days notice.

He said the owners have also proposed a 10-year lease, which would include construction of a new pool on the property by the property owners. The city would basically make the lease payment and monthly payments on the pool, totalling about $8,700 a month.

“I don’t see us doing the pool,” said Councilwoman Dot Wood.

Councilwoman Sharon Thomas said it would not be feasible.

Council President James McGowan said he wanted to help, but he doesn’t want the city to pay for the construction of a pool on private property.

“We don’t need to spend the public’s money on private property,” he said.

Councilman Jay Jenkins agreed, saying the city does not need to build someone else’s pool.

However the mayor and council appeared to be in favor of a possible five-year lease agreement without the pool.

“I think that’s the most doable,” Mayor Joe Funderburg said.

The mayor said there shouldn’t be any reason why the city couldn’t take over the golf course, properly market it and get enough members to make the club self-supportive.

“It’s the only 18-hole golf course in St. Clair County,” he said.

Draper also said the five-year lease plan was more suitable for the city.

“I prefer the five-year plan,” he said. “We need a way to get out of this if it is not supported.”

Draper said club members need to see how many pledge forms they can get people to fill out and return, so city officials know what kind of support a public golf course would have.

“I know you may not get 200 people (to sign up),” Draper told the group. “Show the city what the support level is.”

Pledge forms are available at City Hall, and golfers interested in signing a pledge can also contact a club member or Yonkers at 205-884-9906.

According to the pledge form, the suggested membership fee is $100 per month for individuals and $150 per month for families, plus a $14 cart fee per visit.

If the city made the club a municipal golf course, it would also offer walk-on fees, but a one-time walk-on fee was not discussed.

The pledge form also offered a $40 per month individual social membership and an $80 per month family social membership.