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City Council backs closing Hagerstown golf course in winter

September 13, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown City Council has informally agreed to close the city golf course in the winter to save money and is considering improving the financially struggling operation in an effort to reduce its dependence on an annual subsidy.

Among the ideas discussed Tuesday during a council meeting were renovations to the clubhouse at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run, the addition of concessions — including the sale of alcohol — and closing the course during the winter months.

The council discussed the possibilities for the golf course at length but did not take any formal votes.

The city has cut its golf course fund expenses as much as possible, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said. But Tissue said a bit more could be trimmed by closing the course in the winter months.

Starting this winter, when the weather gets bad, Tissue said the plan would be to close the course until the weather improves again, a measure that met with council consensus.

The council, however, was not so quick to agree to spend money on the course.

City officials proposed using $40,000 of unspent 2009 bond proceeds to update the course clubhouse by adding concessions and improving its curb appeal.

Tissue said the $40,000 would purchase materials only, and city employees would do the rehabilitation work.

It has been at least 50 years since any major work was done to the clubhouse, he said. It is unattractive and outdated, according to city documents.

Included in the staff’s proposal for updating the clubhouse was creating a space on its second floor that could be rented to a concessionaire to sell food and beverages.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood repeatedly asked city staff members to do some market research on concessions at municipal golf courses and provide it to the council before it moves forward.

“I’m just not really sure how the concessionaire will make money,” she said, looking at the course’s statistics. “From the perspective of someone who caters professionally, that sounds like a bum deal to me, I’m sorry.”

Citing her professional experience in the food-service industry, she also cautioned putting concessions on the second floor without further research, because it can be costly to run grease traps and utilities to an upper floor.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton suggested pursuing a liquor license for the course, saying that after a round of golf some players might like to enjoy a beer.

Councilman Martin Brubaker asked whether the changes proposed would generate revenue enough to make a dent in the approximate $225,000 general fund subsidy payment made annually to the golf course fund.

Selling alcohol could generate significant revenue, Brubaker said.

The council will continue to discuss the course at an October work session.

According to city documents, 10,804 rounds of golf were played at the course in fiscal 2010-11.  The course was open 249 days that year, the documents said.

Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run, located on South Cleveland Avenue, is a nine-hole course.

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Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run

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