On September 14 at 7 p.m., Harrison City Council plans to hold a public hearing on whether to create a Local Development Corporation (LDC) to take over the city’s newly acquired golf course.
The city took possession of the former Willow Ridge Country Club at 123 North St. on August 2 in an acquisition deal priced at over $ 15 million. He changed the name from Willow Ridge to Harrison Meadows Country Club and arranged Troon Golf LLC, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based golf management company that operates approximately 600 courses internationally, to handle day-to-day operations.
When the city considered acquiring the club either through a market purchase or through the exercise of eminent state powers, it set up a committee to study the matter and make recommendations. The committee used Troon as a consultant.
In addition to recommending that the city acquire the property, keep it as a golf club, and discourage residential development on the property, the committee urged consideration of forming an SDL to take over ownership of the property after Harrison took the title.
The committee said, among other things, that Harrison could transfer the property to the LDC and that the LDC would issue bonds to repay the debt the municipality had incurred on the purchase. He suggested that the LOC obligations could be repaid from the golf club’s operating income. A pro forma budget prepared by Troon indicated that the club could be a major money generator.
For 2022, it has been reported that the club could generate revenues of $ 6,670,628 with gross operating profit of $ 909,163 and net income of $ 689,464, or about 10% of total revenues.
The committee said following the LOC route could help minimize municipal exposure, financial and otherwise, while operating without the restrictions of municipal law.
At a city council meeting on August 5, the question of whether to establish an SDL for the golf club was raised. Harrison Town and Village Supervisor / Mayor Ron Belmont said: âIt will not be a political organization. He removes the club’s policy itself and takes it away from the members of the city council. It would be a better management structure without any government involvement.
Belmont suggested that the board of directors of an LDS should include two members of the city council.
âThere are a lot of things that need to be accomplished over the next few months and if we don’t (approve the creation of a PMA) we will probably have to meet once a week over the next few months just to get by. reviewing requests from our management company (Troon) who will manage the Harrison Meadows Country Club, âBelmont said.
City Councilor / Administrator Frank Gordon said he was against using an LDC structure for the club. He was part of the committee that studied the possibility of an acquisition of Willow Ridge.
âI have definitely studied the matter and thought about it long and hard. One of the main characteristics of the LOC when it borrows, the city really acts as a safety net or almost a guarantor of those funds, âGordon said.
âI think I would like to maintain voter control over the use of taxpayer funds, so I want voters to have representation that they can withdraw or keep when their taxes are used to fund LOC debt. “
He said he would be more than willing to devote all the time necessary to deal with golf club issues as they come before city council.
âI’m definitely determined to see the successful completion of the club and the successful opening next year, so I’m more than willing to commit the time needed, two meetings a week, whatever. Glad to do it. I love it and I love giving that effort back to the city to turn it into a world class facility, âsaid Gordon.
City Councilor / Trustee Richard Dionisio has been quite blunt in voicing his opposition to an PMA.
âThe elected officials should lead the club. The public put us here for a reason. They trust us, âDionisio said. âI think we are more than capable of doing the job. I am not in favor of an PMA.
City Councilor / Administrator Fred Sciliano has expressed support for the establishment of a PMA.
âI think it’s a good thing. We don’t take it away from city council, but you have two city council members. I would be in favor of that and you have professionals from our community who will be on board, âsaid Sciliano.