By Betsy Finklea
The Dillon County Council discussed the possibility of joining the city in a municipal golf course project.
Councilman Andrew Graves, the head of the county’s recreation committee, said he and committee members, Councilmen Buzzy Finklea and Joe Johnson, met with Dillon City Manager Glen Wagner and Dillon Mayor Todd Davis to discuss making the Twin Lakes Golf Course a municipal golf course.
Graves said he thought it would be a good thing if they could afford to do it. The course would be open to the public. The county and city would merge together on the venture for five years, and the course would be leased from the current owner. He said the course would have to be reworked and made suitable for play.
Graves said they would not run the restaurant, the bar, or the swimming pool. Graves also said that the name would be changed from Twin Lakes to something else.
Finklea said as the course has gone down people have quit playing there and gone elsewhere. He said the city feels if they could get the golf course looking good they would attract more players back. He said at the end of the year the city feels that it will be a break-even deal not a money maker.
The county is limited on the time to reply to the city.
County Administrator Clay Young said that the county would have an agreement with the city and the city would have an agreement with the owner.
Graves said that the city was talking about the county fronting out about $75,000 the first year.
County Attorney Ken Dubose said the money would have to be appropriated and it would take three readings and a public hearing so it could possibly be May before this could be completed.
Graves said that this was the city’s proposal to the county council to see if there was interest. He said the details would have to be worked out.
Councilman Randy Goings asked why the council would go into a partnership with the city for a form of recreation that only about 10 percent of the people use. He said if it was operating in the red now, he didn’t see the county taking it on and trying to make it profitable. “I think it would be a major mistake,” Goings said.
Finklea asked County Economic Development Director Tonny McNeil if when industries are looking at the county if they inquire about whether the county has a golf course.
McNeil said that it was definitely one way to close a deal.
Councilman Bobby Moody said he was for helping the city with this project.
Chairman Archie Scott said if the man who owned the place was doing well with it then he wouldn’t be getting rid of it. “I am not for this at all,” said Scott.
Scott was told that the owner was getting older and the current golf pro was moving to another course and this was why he was considering this deal.
“The man is trying to sell us a lemon,” said Scott, “and the city is trying to market that lemon.”
Goings said he didn’t feel that the county needed to be involved in this type of recreation.
Scott said they should ask the owner to donate it for $1.
Upon a motion by Councilman Bobby Moody and a second by Councilman Andrew Graves, the county council decided to pursue an intergovernmental agreement with the city in regards to the golf course. It was noted that this would not commit the county to anything, and it was just to show interest and get more information.
The motion passed 5-2 with Councilmen Bobby Moody, Andrew Graves, Buzzy Finklea, Joe Johnson, and Harold Moody voting for the motion, and Councilmen Archie Scott and Randy Goings voting against the motion.
Recreation Committee Meeting
According to the minutes of the County Recreation Committee meeting with city officials on March 25th, several important points were made.
These points included the following:
-Councilman Andrew Graves said “that the committee felt that the county may not mind assisting but not being in charge of the operation of it.”
-City Manager Glen Wagner said “that he sees the facility operating in a similar structure as the City Wellness Center.”
-“Some of the current city staff is qualified to work there along with the employee remaining who has worked at Twin Lakes for close to 40 years.”
-The city would like to see the staff “begin working there in May so that they could work along with the current staff for a full month…Most of the memberships expire July 1st.”
-The city is considering “a five year lease with Robert Johnson with a clause to opt out after three years if needed.”
-“The city and county could consider entering into an intergovernmental agreement which will state a clear understanding of each entity’s roles and responsibilities (funding, etc.) Wagner said “that the funds would be kept in an entirely separate account” and “the operation will start with no funds on hand. Discussion was held concerning the county making a contribution now and then setting an amount for next year’s budget and annually thereafter. He stated that this qualifies for using the hospitality tax (on prepared foods and drinks) funding.
-Needed improvements were discussed including replacing some of the current equipment, improvements to the bathrooms, cleaning the fence line to increase visibility, etc.
-There are no grant funds available for this project.