I received several comments recently in regards to the article ran in the Journal News on the potential sale of Weatherwax Golf Course in the future. The first part of the article seemed to generate the concerns…
Weatherwax may be sold after 2016
By Rick McCrabb
While the owner and general manager of Weatherwax Golf Course are pleased with business so far, it appears the course may be sold after the 2016 season.
Jim Kraft, of WMVH (Woodside, Meadows, Valley View, Highlands) LLC, signed a one-year lease in November 2014 with Myron Bowling Auctioneers Inc., to operate the 36-hole course in Madison Twp. The lease expires on Nov. 2, 2015, but Kraft has an option to continue leasing the course through 2016.
Kraft said he’s 99.9 percent sure he’ll renew his lease.
But Bowling said he’s working on a deal to sell the course after the contract expires in 2016. He refused to name the potential buyer or possible use for the land, but said it would be “good for Middletown, good for the community.”
The concerns raised were based on a rumor that the course may be sold to Butler Metroparks for substantially more than Bowling paid to the City. I have several comments on this.
First, this is a rumor at this point. I haven’t heard anything definitive that this will happen and if so, how much Bowling will potentially make on the sale. Even if that is completely accurate, however, keep these things in mind when you look at the city’s conduct in selling the course:
Between the bond payments for 1996 renovations and operating losses, the City was losing $400,000 of your tax dollars each year operating the course. We received $1.6 million for the course when we sold it, which paid off the bonds and left us with a small profit upon sale and payment of expenses.
We put out a Request for Proposal at the time the course was offered for sale. We received two bids, and neither was from Butler Metroparks. If they now have an interest, they didn’t have one at that time. I’ve heard nothing from Butler Metroparks that they have interest, and I’m not speaking for them in any way on this matter.
Remember, also, that the public wanted Weatherwax to remain a golf course. The two proposals we received gave us the best chance to get out of the losing golf business and to let the course remain open for our citizens to play.
IF… the course would be sold in 2017 for a higher amount, I have a couple final comments.
First, Mr. Bowling didn’t purchase the course to lose money. I assume when he bought the course that he intended to make a profit either through leasing the course or by selling it later at a profit, or both. As some in the public tell us often, the city is not in business to compete against the private market. The City got what it needed out of the deal, and if it sells in the future, I hope Mr. Bowling gets the best deal possible for the course and makes a profit. That’s how business works.
Second, if the course sells for substantially more in 2017 than we got for it in 2014, keep this in mind… we were losing $400,000 per year in operations. If we had operated the course for three additional years from 2014-2016, we would have been another $1.2 million in the hole. For us to break even on a 2017 sale, we would have to do better than the $1.6 million received plus the $1.2 million loss we would have spent operating the course for a total of $2.8 million.
Hind sight is always 20/20, but I stand by the deal made by the city. Given our finances and our more pressing needs for paving and public safety, the City no longer needed to own a losing golf course that was miles from our city limits. It was time to get out of the golf business.