LAKEWOOD – The village of Lakewood has backtracked on a plan to sell RedTail Golf Club after residents protested and claimed it was a poor time to consider that option in a down economy and could hurt their property values.
Village President Erin Smith said a full crowd at Tuesday's board meeting helped convince trustees to unanimously vote down the proposal to list the course for sale with a broker. Going into the meeting, five of six trustees had supported listing the course.
"I think the process worked well," she said of the resident participation. "Our board is elected to represent our residents ... and that's what they did."
The golf club has been a contentious issue in the village for two decades as it has failed to generate enough revenue for the village to save money for needed long-term infrastructure improvements on the course, and it has needed taxpayer assistance to cover loan costs despite the use of alternative revenue bonds.
Smith said she would still hold to her stance of maintaining the course as its own entity and would not peg taxpayers for money to cover operational deficits. Any deficit would be covered by the village's operating reserves.
"As a board we are committed to operating the course as its own enterprise fund, without additional support from property taxes," Smith said. "Much like sewer and water where costs are covered by user fees."
Smith had informed residents in the most recent community newsletter that the board would consider entering an agreement at its Tuesday meeting with a brokerage firm to list the golf course for $1.9 million – far less than the village paid for the course when it invested $3.5 million plus interest in a 20-year bond for the property.
The final bond payment was made in 2011, ending the 20-year loan. It was estimated at the time that removing the bond payment saved a homeowner of a $300,000 house about $240.
Smith said the course's financial performance would dictate when the board may reopen discussions on a sale. She said the quicker it rebounds, the more attractive it would be to potential buyers while continued struggles could keep it in village control for a longer time.
Two residents also brought up the possibility of a referendum to let all village citizens vote on the measure, but Smith said the board has not discussed that option yet.