Council seeks estimate on ADA compliance at Pine Harbor
by David Atchison
Feb 25, 2014 | 1183 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY – The Council Monday night approved hiring a consultant to provide a cost estimate as to how much it will cost the city to bring Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The council authorized City Manager Patrick Draper to spend up to $5,000 to hire an ADA consultant to prepare an accessibility study and provide the city with cost estimates to bring the club house and golf course up to ADA compliance.

Draper said he just did not know how much it would cost to make the course ADA compliance.

“I don’t know if it is going to be a budget buster or not,” he told the council.

Last month Draper delivered a projected budget to transform the private golf course to a public facility.

Draper told the council the city could break even with a five-year lease.

He said the city could 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.”

The budget estimate included a $50,000 contribution from the St. Clair County Commission, and there was no money budgeted to bring the actual golf course up to ADA compliance.

Last week, city officials asked the St. Clair County Commission to contribute $50,000 toward the initial start-up of the public golf course, but the Commission voted 3-2 to table the request.

In accordance with a proposed agreement the council approved last month with the property owners, Dr. Larry Lemak and sons of Birmingham, 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, Draper said.

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

Draper told the council that it didn’t matter if the city still operated the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club after five years or someone else. He believes the city can show the owners the course can become 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 into a public club. The private club has operated at a deficit and could not remain open.

Last month Draper said the city would close the course during the month of February but open it up to the public March 1, but there appears to remain a lot of uncertainties whether the city will proceed with securing a property lease, at least until the council finds out how much it is going to cost to bring the golf course up to ADA compliance.

City Attorney John Rea said both parties continue to work on an agreement in good faith.

Draper also said time is of the essence because it is about time to administer fertilizer to the golf course greens. He said if fertilizing is delayed, it will cost the city more because the process will become more labor intensive.

Councilman Jay Jenkins told supporters of the golf course, who were present at Monday night’s meeting, the council has tried hard to help make the private golf course into a public facility.

“We have gone above and beyond,” he said.

City officials said Pine Harbor Golf Course is the only 18-hole golf course in St. Clair County.

In other matters, the council:

O Considered an ordinance to regulate opening burning inside the city but failed to pass the ordinance on the first reading after Jenkins voted “no” to suspend the rules. The ordinance will come up for a vote at the next regularly scheduled council meeting in March.

O Approved to waive the sales tax bond for vendors participating in the annual Lakefest event.

O Approved the installation of a street light near 526 Ellison Way West.

O Approved to go into executive session to discuss pending litigation. The council took no action on the matter and adjourned after reconvening the council meeting.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com