Tuesday, December 29, 2015
This past year has been an intense one for me on the City Council because of the controversial subject of the golf course. I believe I have a unique perspective of the golf course and of the process that has been followed by the city as I have discussed how the golf course came to be with as many people involved as possible and I have researched into the finances of the golf course for approximately four years.
Following are the conclusions that can be drawn from this research:
1) The first year of operations in the golf course the city invested $7,114,000 into the golf course fund. This included the initial purchase price of the golf course and other cash needs to begin operation of the course. This was funded mostly by debt.
2) Since the first year, through 2014, the city averaged $520,000 of investment into the golf course yearly.
3) The total investment into the golf course after 10 years (through 2014) was a little over $12 Million.
4) The city will continue to need to invest in the golf course an average of approximately $500,000 ($200 per household) per year until the golf course bond is paid off in over 20 years unless the city decides to sell some property to developers to pay off the bond earlier.
5) Contrary to what some would have you believe, the city/residents do have options regarding the golf course, including changing the use to parks.
6) If the residents chose to change the golf course to parks through an initiative process, I estimate over $4 Million in savings for the city. This is after investing $4 Million to convert the golf course into parks, which would allow the city to have nice park amenities.
7) The legal obligations and hurdles are manageable when considering changing the use of the golf course.
8) Home values of those very close to the golf course could be negatively affected by changing the use from a golf course to parks.
9) Changing the use of the golf course would require selling holes 1-9 of the golf course that are located in Highland. It would also require selling 30 of the approximately 100 acres of golf course space located in Cedar Hills to a developer. This is the area East of Canyon road.
Those that live close to the golf course have made it very clear that they would like to keep the golf course and continue having the city invest in maintaining the golf course. This will continue to cost all residents in the city, whether they benefit directly from having the golf course or not. If the majority of city residents want to continue to subsidize the golf course, then the golf course should stay. If the majority do not want to continue to subsidize the golf course and would rather subsidize parks, the golf course should be converted.
I suggest that a resident initiative process be started and that the future of the golf course be voted on in the next election period (2016). The residents have been given a lot of truth regarding the golf course that they had previously been lacking. They are now in a position to make a very intelligent decision regarding the golf course. This issue has been a difficult issue in the city for many years causing much conflict and anger among the residents. I feel that we are finally in a position to end the conflict through a vote and then live with our choice after this.
Many have said that we have had votes regarding this issue. I would agree that we have had a vote, but the information presented by the city prior to this vote was very inaccurate. We now have accurate historical information on which to base a future decision and I believe that everyone in the city would stand by the majority of a vote at this point.
The reason I have chosen this past year (2015) to focus on this issue is because there are some real needs on the golf course. For instance, if we are to continue operating the course indefinitely, we will need a golf course maintenance shed for our equipment. This will cost between $300,000 and $380,000. We also have an issue where many stray golf balls from the driving range threaten damage and injury to residents and those passing by the golf course. This will take money to resolve. We need to be united as a city before we continue to spend large amounts of money on the golf course.
In order to have a citizen's initiative and a vote on the next ballot, a resident of Cedar Hills would need to initiate the process and obtain a required amount of signatures from registered voters. Personally, I would support this process and will support the decision of the residents, I only want peace and unity in the city regarding this issue.
Cedar Hills Councilman Rob Crawley
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