The city council for the town of less than 2,000 residents 20 miles east of Waco voted unanimously on December 21 to accept a bid to sell Battle Lake GC for $550,000. “This is a heck of a Christmas present for the city of Mart,” said one city councilman, anticipating that various city departments will now line up with wish lists to spend the city’s share of the proceeds.
The town of Mart, Texas is now officially out of the golf course business, The Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald reported, after its city council voted unanimously on December 21 to accept a bid of $550,000 for Battle Lake Golf Course from Raymark Capital LLC.
The former nine-hole golf course became an 18-hole course in the 1970s when Mart, which has a population of under 2,000 and is located about 20 miles east of Waco, began shared ownership, the Tribune-Herald reported. Chuck Higgins, who bought his half of the golf course in 1990, then recently agreed to sell his half of the course so it could be relinquished in one piece, and the course was put up for sale last August.
The sale came after city leaders lowered bid requirements after not receiving a single offer for the property, the Tribune-Herald reported. The purchase includes all city-owned and privately owned property in use by the golf course, the business itself, the clubhouse, swimming pool, and most of the equipment used to run and maintain the course.
The terms of the sale require the buyer to run the business as a golf course for a minimum of three years, the Tribune-Herald reported—a change from the original requirement of seven years.
Mart City Councilman Tommy Roberson said he is sure different city departments will now line up with a wish list to spend the city’s half of the proceeds, the Tribune-Herald reported.
“It beats the heck out of saying, ‘No, we can’t do it, sorry,’ ” he said. “This is kind of like a bonus. This is a heck of a Christmas present for the city of Mart.”
Mayor Pro Tem Henry Witt III said the council has not yet made a decision on where the proceeds from the sale will go, the Tribune-Herald reported. The money could be put in a rainy-day fund, or even used to purchase large equipment to clean up lots owned by the city.
Witt said he would like to earmark half the money for property development, tearing down dilapidated structures and clearing abandoned lots. On average, it would take about $2,500 to clean each lot, Witt said, and with that money, 80 different areas could be made to look like new.
Those locations could then be maintained and kept up by McLennan County’s inmate program until the city of Mart could sell the locations to private owners or developers, Witt told the Tribune-Herald.
Such a move would help get the properties back on the tax rolls and therefore improve the city’s tax base, he added.
“You would probably find the general consensus of our citizens is that our tax base is unhealthy,” Witt said. “Some would say it’s irreparable. I certainly agree that it’s unhealthy, but there is a solution to every problem.”
The city has proved it can find solutions after recently securing a $22.5 million water and road infrastructure federal grant and loan, which most people thought was impossible, the Herald-Tribune noted.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s funding includes a $5 million grant and a $17 million loan to the city over 40 years, at a 2.215 percent interest rate.
“Those upgrades alone will contribute to a healthier tax base in Mart,” Witt said. “Repairing of our tax base should be the next seemingly impossible task we take on. It will take time, but it can be fixed. We just have to be focused on it as hard as we focused on fixing the infrastructure problems.”