City approves lease agreement with golf course
by David Atchison
Jan 27, 2014 | 1645 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home
slideshow
PELL CITY – The city is preparing to go into the golf business after the City Council unanimously approved a 5-year lease agreement with owners of the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club Monday night.

Councilman Jay Jenkins approved a motion to authorized City Attorney John Rea to prepare a lease agreement between the city and the property owners of Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club, Dr. Larry Lemak and sons of Birmingham, and Councilman Terry Templin seconded the motion.

The two councilmen and Council President James McGowan unanimously approved the motion, and the 40 or so supporters who attended last night’s meeting clapped their hands in support.

Councilwomen Dot Wood and Sharon Thomas were not present at last night’s council meeting. Officials said both councilwomen were sick and unable to attend the council meeting.

In accordance with the proposed agreement, the city would lease the property for $5,000 a month for the next five years. The city is responsible for all costs related to the property, including the property taxes, which are about $12,000 a year.

There are no options to get out of the lease agreement for either party, City Manager Patrick Draper said.

He said there are also no options on the table to renew the lease agreement after five-year period.

Draper said it doesn’t matter if the city still operates the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club after five years or someone else. He believes the city can show the owners it the course can be a viable money-making public golf course. Currently the golf club is private.

Pine Harbor community residents asked the City Council to consider leasing the property and making the private club a public club. The private club has operated at a deficit and cannot remain open.

Pine Harbor Club members said the current lease ends Jan. 31, so the city council approved the proposed lease agreement only days before the current lease ends.

Jenkins said he has always been in favor of the city taking over the golf course.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” he said.

Mayor Joe Funderburg said he hopes not only the residents in Pell City use the golf course, but everyone in St. Clair County.

“This is the only 18-hole golf course in the county,” he said. “We want to reach out countywide and increase interest. I think it can work. It’s needed for this community. To lose it now would be a travesty.”

Templin said people have worked hard to keep the golf course open.

“I said in the beginning if anyway we could help, I would be for it,” he said, adding that everyone went out, work hard and rallied support to keep the golf course open.

He said the city received a 110 pledge forms

“I’m comfortable with voting for it,” Templin said.

Draper presented the council with a projected budget, saying the city could break with a five-year lease.

He told the council the city would see an $82,000 deficit in the first year of operation but only a $28,000 deficit the second year.

“I believe we will be in the black years three, four and five,” he said.

He projected that revenues would exceed expenses by $51,000-$57,000 for each of the last three years.

“Remember the budget is only an estimate,” he said. “But, I feel like this is a conservative budget.”

Draper said the city would close the course during the month of February but open it up to the public March 1.

At last night’s council meeting, the council also approved the job description for a golf director to run the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club for the city.

In other matters, the council:

O Approved to solicit bids for spring sports uniforms and trophies.

O Approved an amendment to the city’s business license ordinance to include a special events license for Chamber events.

O Rescinded a resolution to hire McKee and Associates of Montgomery for architectural services for the 19th Street Community Center, and awarded the contract to Williams Blackstock of Birmingham.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com