The two-year contract provides water at 20 percent of the potable rate, making the new owners “ecstatic,” and allowing them to keep the entire property afloat, after they’ve invested over $1 million in renovations.
City council recently approved a resolution for Club Rio Rancho (N.M.) for a two-year contract that included a water rate that’s double the current amount but below what city staff recommended, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
“I was ecstatic,” Jhett Browne said in an interview two days after the council’s decision.”In essence, the council voted to save the golf course on Tuesday.”
Browne bought the former Chamisa Hills Golf and Country Club on May 1 and renamed it Club Rio Rancho. The contract that begins on June 2 provides water at 20 percent of the potable rate on June 30, or 99 cents per 1,000 gallon. The golf course currently gets recycled water for irrigation at 47 cents per 1,000 gallons. The rate was set to increase to 60 percent of the potable rate, or $3.28 per 1,000 gallons on July 1, the Journal reported.
Browne said he and Bob Gallagher, his minority partner in the venture, went to the meetings on Tuesday uncertain of the outcome. “If we were stuck to the 60 percent rate, I wouldn’t have been able to continue,” Browne said.
Browne would have kept open the clubhouse with its bar and restaurants, the swimming pool and six-court tennis complex. But he would have closed the golf course and sold the land, the Journal reported.
The 99-cent water rate gives him breathing room to continue rehabilitating the neglected clubhouse and 18 of the course’s 27 holes, Browne said. He has already started work and invested or committed to invest more than $1 million in redecorating and buying new furniture, technology, equipment and materials to improve the degraded turf, the Journal reported.
He has also launched a radio, print and TV marketing campaign promoting Club Rio Rancho throughout the metro area. His ultimate goal is to develop his own water source by drilling a well. High sodium and chlorine levels in the recycled city water make it undesirable for producing lush turf, Browne told the Journal.
City councilors and the Utilities Commission have discussed the reuse water rate many times in recent months after Browne indicated interest in buying the ailing golf course. City staff said a rate of 30 percent of the potable rate would cover city costs associated with treating and delivering recycled water, the Journal reported.
City Manager Keith Riesberg said the difference in utility revenue between charging the 20 percent rate and 30 percent rate would be $85,000. The difference between 20 percent and 60 percent of the potable rate would be just under $300,000, based on using 400 acre feet of water, the Journal reported.