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August 30, 2012 8:05 am

EDITORIAL: Golf club agreement is a good first step

Written by Ilene Olson

A three-year agreement between the Powell City Council and the Powell Golf Club reached last week is good news. It ends the uncertainty that was crippling the golf club’s ability to plan and raise funds for the 18-hole course, and it provides an annual review by the city to assure city leaders that the city-owned course and its funding are being managed responsibly.

We understand that predicted budget reductions for the city, combined with residents’ concerns about high costs to golf at the course, prompted the stalemate between the two entities. But it is unfortunate that things came to a head when it appears the golf club management is doing all it can to reduce its debt, as it was instructed to do last year by the Powell City Council.

As tensions increased, a poorly-worded email from the club’s golf pro calling council members “dumb politicians” only added fuel to the fire, and both sides dug their trenches deeper.

It’s good to see them coming out of those trenches now, though feelings still run strong on both sides.

To prevent future problems — or at least to reduce their severity — several points should be remembered:

• A good golf course — and everyone seems to agree that Powell’s course is a good one — is a community asset that often aids economic development.

• Recreation of different forms is important to provide activities and physical fitness opportunities for youth and adults.

• By asking the golf club management to make the course pay for itself, the City Council is expecting the club to do what hasn’t been possible for the city’s swimming pool.

• The city should do what it can to help promote the city-owned golf course. One of the most obvious and inexpensive ways to do that would be providing a link on the city’s website to the course’s website, something councilmen have talked about. Mayor Scott Mangold has agreed to partner with golf club members to look at ways to further promote the golf course, and we hope those efforts are fruitful.

• While the golf club must keep membership and golfing fees high enough to reduce debt and make the course budget viable, it also should reach out to the community in innovative ways to make golfing more accessible to the general public.

That could be accomplished, in part, by establishing a fund to pay part of the costs for youth from lower-income families to golf at the course. Perhaps a benefit program could be coupled with a requirement to help out with work at the course during the summer, thereby reducing overhead and expenses for the club.

Reaching out to the community would create more golfers, and increased numbers potentially could reduce the cost for golfing at the course in the future.

Fundraising for such a program may have to wait for a while, since money raised now must help pay down the club’s debt. But planning for ways to promote the course can, and should, begin now. Innovative efforts could change the outlook for the course and improve the club management’s relationship with city leaders and with Powell residents.

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