(Photo by Christopher Winterfeldt/The Modesto Bee)
A resolution to close the nine-hole course and direct staff to prepare for its sale may be voted on at a January 14th meeting. The Muni course is managed by the local chapter of The First Tee, but its closing has been identified as the latest solution for reducing the city’s annual subsidy to its golf fund, which is expected to rise to at least $750,000 if all three of the city’s courses, including two 18-hole properties, continue to operate.
At its meeting on the evening of January 14th, the City Council of Modesto, Calif. could vote to close the nine-hole Modesto Municipal Golf Course and direct staff to prepare for its sale, in an effort to reduce the city’s annual subsidy to its golf fund, The Modesto Bee reported.
City staff is recommending that council members take these actions, which would come after many years of off-and-on discussions about how to reduce the financial impact of the city’s three public golf courses on the city budget, The Bee reported. Besides the Muni course, the city, which has a population of about 215,000, owns the 18-hole Creekside and Dryden golf courses. Previous discussions to close any of the three courses have brought strong opposition from local golfers.
The city’s general fund is expected to provide at least a $750,000 annual subsidy to the city’s golf fund, according to a resolution the council will consider that would direct staff to close the Muni course and prepare it for sale, The Bee reported.
But about $500,000 of the subsidy is for the debt payment on the Creekside course, which will end in 2023. And the subsidy does not include money for capital improvements at the three courses; city officials have said those improvements are overdue and substantial, The Bee reported.
A consultant’s report states that Modesto could reduce its general fund golf subsidy by $400,000 to $500,000 annually by closing the Muni course, The Bee reported. But that would be offset, the report added, by an estimated $200,000 annual cost to the city for minor maintenance and security at the shuttered course until it was redeveloped.
Modesto had previously considered closing the Dryden course, but then changed its focus to the Muni because of its potential for reuse, The Bee reported. The resolution that the city council will consider states that the city has received interest in redeveloping the course. Officials have said that was for a housing development, but refused to provide details.
The Modesto Municipal Golf Course holds sentimental value for many in the area, The Bee reported.. Generations of golfers have learned how to play at the tree-lined course, which opened in the 1930s and is next to John Thurman Field, home to Modesto’s minor-league baseball team, the Modesto Nuts. It is also the site of Coffee Field, Modesto’s first airport.
The Muni course is also home to the local chapter of The First Tee, which manages it under a contract with the city that expires in December 2020. The Bee reported. The council resolution states the city would work with the chapter to move the program to the Dryden course, should the Muni be closed.
The resolution calls for Modesto to close the course “as soon as administratively possible, but no later than the expiration of The First Tee’s contract,” The Bee reported.