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Council to seek more input on golf complex proposal

Submitted by on 1, January 26, 2011 – 12:04 am5 Comments

The City Council decided Tuesday night they want more input on a proposal to trim nine holes from the Chuck Corica Golf Complex before they move forward on negotiations for a long-term deal to operate the complex. The private company that manages the course says the change would allow them to spend $5 million to fix up the complex, but golfers said they believe the complex’s two 18-hole courses can be fixed up and retained.

Representatives from KemperSports, the company the city is seeking to negotiate a long-term lease with, told the council they’d be willing to invest $5 million to fix it up as three nine-hole courses. But if the city opted to retain the 36 holes they have there now, the company would only offer to manage the complex because they don’t think a larger investment would be supported by demand at the complex.

“We have no interest in doing 36 (holes). We think we’re better off having 27 good holes,” Kemper’s executive vice president, Ben Blake, told the council on Tuesday.

Golfers said they think the complex would do better in its current configuration, which includes two separate and very different 18-hole courses, and that it’d be tough to handle the Commuters and other tournaments on three nine-hole courses. And they said they want to see the numbers behind Kemper’s presentation Tuesday – numbers Blake said he gave to Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant but which council members said they themselves haven’t yet seen. Kemper’s presentation wasn’t offered to the public or the council until Tuesday night.

Joe VanWinkle, who has been working on a separate deal to put the Alameda Junior Golf Association in charge of the Mif Albright short course at the complex, asked the council to consider looking at other companies to run Chuck Corica.

“I wouldn’t take that deal,” he said of the Kemper plan.

But city staffers said they believe they need to begin moving more quickly toward a deal because they fear the complex’s cash reserves will dwindle to nothing in 18 months – or sooner if a major repair is needed. And council members said they, too are concerned that time is of the essence because they don’t want to be spending money to support the complex.

“I am not (asking) the voters of Alameda, ‘Do you want to have golf? Or do you want to have public services?'” Mayor Marie Gilmore said. “Are you willing to bet the golf course? Because that’s kind of what it comes down to.”

City staffers are working to set up another public hearing on the proposal and the numbers that support it; a decision about whether to negotiate a deal could come in March.

5 Comments »

  • cabforles says:

    By changing it to 27 will create a waste land that will only cost the tax payer of alameda, this is one of the few sports that create revenue, keep it at 36.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    It appears that much of the months-long delay in Kemper getting a basic proposal to the City Council is due to delays (perhaps deliberate ones?) in the office of the former Interim City Manager, who also did not share the extensive financial analysis provided to her office last year by Kemper with anyone else, including the City Council.

    Why did she withhold that information from the public for many months? Was the former ICM trying to make sure that only a 27-hole option would emerge? Was she trying – as she regularly did on other issues – to limit and inhibit public debate and restrict public access to key information?

    The options presented last night by Kemper do not seem to add up: Kemper supports $5.25 million to renovate 27 holes but estimates it would cost $8 million to upgrade 36 holes. (I get $7 million by projecting out what Kemper wants to spend on 27 holes to 36, based on $1.75 million per each 9 holes….)

    I hope that the City Council’s sense of urgency will not preclude a thoughtful community discussion – based on the detailed numbers Kemper provided last spring and summer to the former ICM – that will lead to wise decisions on the Mif Albright course as well as the two current 18-hole courses the city owns.

    The City’s Golf Commission and other golf experts in the community have worked hard – in a vacuum, apparently – to contribute to the golf complex management and renovation issues. I hope they will have access to all the data that has been locked up in the former ICM’s office soon so that the playing field will be more level and the quality of the city’s decisions will be as high as possible.

  • ns says:

    Why would Alameda give up 2 courses? It doesn’t make sense.

  • Chuck Sabbatini says:

    The golf course is an asset to the city much like the theater was. The city invested in the update of the theater and now is reaping those rewards. The golf course is also a revenue generating asset. By allowing Kemper, a Chicago based company, tell Alamedans what is good for Alameda is ludicrous. Because the city has wasted a year of negotiations with Kemper, Kemper now feels they have the city over a barrel. By rushing into this deal with Kemper would only make things worse. The city needs to put a specific RFQ out to all interested parties to run the 36 hole complex. This was not done last time as the RFQ had multiple options to bid on and a reliable source from American Golf told me the RFQ that was put out so convoluted that American Golf didn’t bid. A new RFQ should take no more than a week to put one together, and quotes could be back in 60 days. I hope the city opens their eyes to the fact that Kemper is not the only game in town.

  • Karen Bey says:

    The theater has proven to be a very good investment for the city and a boost for Park Street— but only after a reconfiguration of the original theater, and after the developer/operator was allowed to implement the strategy he believed would make the theater profitable.

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