Council to seek more input on golf complex proposal
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.