May 21, 2004

Golf course discussion at Town Board

Though the Town Board reached the issue late in the evening, discussion of the proposed Lakeview Golf Course purchase was a popular topic at last Thursday's board meeting.

Discussion opened with Noah Demarest, of Tallman & Demarest, the architects the town commissioned to look into the viability of the course, giving a brief presentation on the state of the course and of golfing in the area.

Noah Demarest explains the state of the Lakeview Golf Course
Noah Demarest explains the current and possible future state of the Lakeview Golf Course

Demarest explained that many of the problems the golf course faced were brought on by its effort to expand to 18 holes to be more competitive with surrounding courses. While 18-hole courses are more profitable generally than 9-hole courses, and Lakeview needs to compete in its market, there wasn't enough room in the land the course used to build a comfortable or safe course. Terrain didn't help. The additional holes created new problems as well as increasing maintenance costs. He suggested that if the course were to continue as a course and have 18 holes, it should buy some additional land across Lake Road for two additional holes.

The market for value courses like Lakeview appears to be saturated, and while there is a market for standard and premium courses here, that isn't helped by the upcoming development of two 18-hole courses in Cortland County, including one at Greek Peak.

Demarest presented a draft report to the board, and a summary - though apparently nothing else - is available. Some pieces of this summary are large graphics, so I've broken the document into smaller parts:

The analysis and the Executive Summary are probably the best reading, though the parcel map made me realize that I had the size of the course wrong in an earlier post.

Lakeview Golf Course parcels
Lakeview Golf Course parcels

The general recommendations suggest:

  1. It is recommended that the Town ensure that the land currently comprising the golf course remains a managed open space asset for the members of the Dryden community.
  2. It is not advised that the Town attempt to keep the golf course as an 18-hole facility in its current configuration.
  3. However, it is advised that the Town attempts to keep all of the parcels together as one managed facility to prevent the loss of opportunity to develop the golf course into an 18-hole facility at a later date.

Running the course seemed be largely a break-even proposition, unlikely to have significant revenue as a nine-hole course but sustainable.

Board member Chris Michaels asked about the prospects for using the additional property if the Town turned the course back into nine holes. While there were some possibilities, including cross-country skiing in winter and designated trails, golf courses tend to be dangerous places when people walk across them.

Sara Osmeloski pointed out that the course is now running its original nine holes, though they're trying to keep the other nine from disappearing. Joe Osmeloski said that the nine hole version was profitable, but the eighteen hole version was dangerous. Jerry Ryan suggested that some of the problems were with course management not listening to customers, especially about having beverages on the course, which prompted County Legislator Martha Robertson to ask if the town could have a liquor license anyway. Apparently concessionaires can have them, as the City of Ithaca does at its municipal course.

Golfers as well as the volunteers currently maintaining the course spoke about the community around the course, and Bob Larsen said that the course was a key reason he moved here. The course's senior program and programs for children came up, as did the prospect of having the Dryden High School team return to the course. Town Supervisor Steve Trumbull was impressed with the volunteer spirit keeping the place going, saying that he "couldn't believe what's going on there" and telling volunteers "you should be on 60 Minutes."

Supporters of the golf course purchase listen to attendees make their case
Supporters of the golf course purchase listen to attendees make their case for buying it.

There's no telling what the board will do with all of this, as substantive discussion about whether to buy the course and for how much was reserved for executive session.

Posted by simon at May 21, 2004 12:45 PM in , , , , ,
Note on photos