Economy, materials costs could be bogey for new Clear Creek Clubhouse
Published 1:40 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023
Fiscal Year 2024 could be the mulligan Clear Creek Golf Course needs to get its new clubhouse approved and funded, the Warren County Board of Supervisors said Monday.
The supervisors met with the county Parks and Recreation Commission as part of the supervisors’ regular working session.
With the supervisors having allocated $500,000 this budget year for a new clubhouse at the county-owned Clear Creek Golf Course, the Parks and Recreation Commission expressed concerns about the estimated cost of the building.
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“The county approved $500,000 for a new clubhouse, but now estimates are $750,000, for essentially an open building with nice restrooms,” said Ronny Ross, Director of Golf at Clear Creek. “But I’ve been surprised by everything lately. We just got a load of sand that cost us $1,500.”
The commission recently had obtained designer renderings of a new clubhouse for the course, something Board President Kelle Barfield said she hoped potentially would open doors for multipurpose use beyond golfing.
However, she said, the more fiscally responsible option would be spreading out the costs over two budget years instead of bankrolling the project at an increased cost this budget year.
“We are a certified retirement community. We also care a lot about just recreational options for citizens of all ages. And it also is a fantastic asset to attract guests and tourists,” Barfield said. “So with that in mind, on an annual basis, (the Parks and Recreation Commission) looks at capital needs and have done a lot of work on the course itself. Anyone who plays golf knows how amazing the course now is in terms of its exterior condition. But the next priority was the clubhouse.”
On Monday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on whether the county should entertain bids by contractors to build the new clubhouse, which will allow the county and Parks and Recreation Commission to obtain a more accurate cost estimate.
The current clubhouse was constructed in 1979 and is outdated, Ross told the board on Monday.
“People are just raving about (the golf course), especially compared to the other courses in the area,” he said. “But something has got to be done with the restroom situation out there. It’s flat-out embarrassing. We have a tournament (this week) and you walk into the restroom. … There’s one commode and it’s so dark and dingy.”
Barfield explained Wednesday that remodeling the building would not be an option, as the existing shell does not provide the amenities a facility of that caliber needs in order to achieve the vision of attracting large tournaments and opportunities to grow revenue even further.
District 1 Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joe Tom stated Monday that revenue-generating opportunities are at an all-time high for the golf course, further demonstrating the need for an updated facility. With upgrades made to the course and the grounds in the last year, and the addition of new geofenced golf carts, the clubhouse is the logical next step, he said.
“We’re making more income now than in all the years I’ve been playing golf,” Tom said. “We look at our monthly income statement — the number of people playing, the number of rounds we’re doing, and it’s up, up, up. (A new clubhouse) may draw even more people in from outside the county. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson countered the idea of allocating an additional $250,000 for the project, citing economic woes across the county and the state.
“Here’s another perspective: You’ve got momentum without a new clubhouse. This is a good time for you to keep that momentum going and stack money away because it hasn’t always been this way,” Jackson said. “Interest rates will go down and building will be cheaper, it’s forecast, as soon as the next year and a half.
“I don’t think paying $750,000 cash money is a good idea now, nor is it good optics, which is just as valuable to consider. You’ve got people hurting,” she added. “We’ve got some serious things to take care of in this county, and how do we tell the public, ‘We just put stacks that amount to $750,000 on the table and said to go build a clubhouse’ in this economy, when next year could be completely different?”
Barfield elaborated on Wednesday, saying the possibility of a new clubhouse was definitely not off the table — but the timing might take longer as building costs and budgetary needs change.
“An asset like the golf cart course requires the Parks and Rec Commission to, on an annual basis, look at any potential large capital investments because they’ve done so much work on the course itself,” Barfield said. “This really has risen to a top priority, and so it really is a matter of the equivalent, if you will, of two large capital projects. It’s simply one (project) spread out over two budget years.”