The city of Umatilla, Ore. will purchase the golf course, its water rights and all of its equipment. City Manager David Stockdale said there will be some improvements to the irrigation system and other enhancements, including some additional hazards.
Big River Golf Course in Umatilla, Ore. will be under new ownership in 2021, the Hermiston Herald reported. The owners announced on November 25, that after 13 years of ownership, they are planning to sell to the city of Umatilla.
“This golf course has been a labor of love for over a decade and we are truly grateful for the experience, the tremendous friendships made, and the endless amount of support we have received from members and patrons throughout the years,” they wrote.
City Manager David Stockdale told the Herald that the city council was planning to vote on official approval of the sale during their December 1, meeting. He said the council was already aware of the city’s negotiations with the golf course and he didn’t foresee any dissenting votes. C+RB did not have results at this time.
“If the council approves it, we will be signing that immediately,” he said.
According to the sale agreement, the city will purchase the golf course, its water rights and all of its equipment for a total of $2 million, the Herald reported. The city plans to take over operations on January 1, 2021.
Stockdale said there were several reasons for the city to invest in the course when its collection of partners decided to sell, the Herald reported. First and foremost, he said, the course generates economic benefits for the community by drawing visitors, and serves as an amenity for area residents. While a golf course may go out of business if its private owners are not successful in turning a profit, Stockdale said the city would have more flexibility to supplement the course from its general fund during a bad year if needed.
“Big River Golf Course is one of our premier recreational features in the community, and we wanted to make sure it will stay there, and will always be here,” he said.
The golf course also comes with a valuable water right and an already established point of diversion in the Columbia River, which Stockdale said will be helpful for the city’s overall efforts to expand its water infrastructure, the Herald reported. The course also adds value to the undeveloped property the city owns adjacent to the course, where they hope to see housing built someday.
One of the city’s goals is to create more “destination” events for Umatilla, and Stockdale told the Herald the golf course could possibly be used for a concert or other event during the “shoulder season” when fewer people are using the course but it is not too cold to hold an outdoor event. He said as the city looks to expand its recreational offerings, ownership of the course also opens up opportunities, such as golf classes and tournaments.
According to Stockdale and the statement by Big River Golf Course, during 2021 the city plans to continue the course’s current business model, including honoring membership fees, rentals, book money and other arrangements already in place before they take ownership, the Herald reported.
Stockdale said once the city owns the course it does plan to make some improvements to the irrigation system to increase efficiency and automation, and add some other improvements, including some additional hazards, the Herald reported.
“There will be some nice changes out there that I think will be welcomed by the golfers,” he said.