Pell City has made a commitment to the quality of life in the community with the acceptance of a five year lease to operate the Pine Harbor Golf and Racquet Club as a publicly accessible facility.
It’s not something council members took lightly. With million dollar purchases of former Avondale property and the CenturyLink building, plans to build a public swimming pool, sewer system rebuilding costs and other financial obligations, in addition to providing municipal services, the city seemed to have a full plate already.
Some may see the new contract as an unnecessary expense that subsidizes a small group of golfers and property owners.
We see it as an investment in the area’s continued growth.
The numbers of people golfing all across the nation has been in decline during the past several years, and those golfing are golfing fewer rounds. Therefore, fewer people have been willing to commit themselves to club memberships. Pine Harbor’s membership has declined to the point where club revenue is not enough to sustain operations. The hope is the city will be a lifeline for the golf course, and that enough golfers will pay per-round fees to make up the difference to keep the course open. And, as it’s been pointed out, it’s the only 18-hole course in the county.
City manager Patrick Draper presented council members with projections that appear sustainable over the term of the lease.
By making improvements to the course and keeping it operating, the city is preserving a high-profile amenity that helps define the level of the quality of life in the area. That’s important most of all to people who life, shop and work in the area, and it’s also something developers often ask about when looking for new business locations.
It remains to be seen whether the city can reverse the decline in revenue and make the course profitable again, but it would be a shame not to try.