On Monday night, the Pittsburg City Council provided staff with direction that will end any chance of the Delta View Golf Club reopening.
In unanimous council support, the Council opted to seek economic and employment opportunities on the 175 acres of land which came hours after city staff closed a survey to the public.
The council was provided with four options on the future of the property:
- Golf Course and Events Venue – Conduct a search to find an operator to continue the operations of the golf course and events venue.
- Economic Development and Employment Opportunities – Develop projects that generate revenue and employment opportunities (i.e. technology business park, hotel, retail, etc.)
- Diverse Recreational Opportunities – Multi-sports facility such as base/softball, soccer, volleyball, gymnasium, community center, miniature golf, 3-hole practice course, etc
- Other Public Uses – 9-hole course, open space, walking/running trail, dirt and/or mountain bike trail, exercise course, etc.
Staff reported that the previous lease holder of the Delta view Golf Course entered into an agreement in January of 2011 for $1 per year–responsible for maintenance, operations and all associated costs for the golf course, driving range, practice green, golf shop, maintenance building and yard, parking lot, and other amenities associated with the property. On March 1, 2018, the property closed due to legal and economic factors.
Staff reported that under the plan of keeping a golf course open, the city would always have to provide some type of subsidy.
City Manager Joe Sbranti added if the council selected Option 1, they would be selecting an option that took up the entire 175-acres whereas the unlike the other options, its a stand alone option.
“I want to emphasis, the operator we had in there for the last several years did their best to operate the golf course at no cost to the City for several years, one of the things they sacrificed was they didn’t take care of some of the maintenance. What the city has now seen is there has been deferred maintenance and we are inheriting it now that they are gone,” explained Sbranti. “That subsidy we see there, was the historic number that we continually invested in the golf course, what we have found that without that, you end up falling behind on some important maintenance needs. So much so to bring the golf course to a level ready to put back into operations staff is estimating at a minimum of $1 million dollars.”
Sbranti added that in their research, the cost of running a golf course versus the revenue they generate are no compatible saying that he checked an online service to find a tee time and found a tee time and cart in Brentwood for $17.
During about an hour of public comments several speakers spoke on supporting more youth programs on the property from a recreation center to more basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields to other recreational activities.
Wolfgang Croskey, speaking as an individual resident, stated his concerns on the process of how this decision was taking place stating how the voters wanted weed so that is where they were going, but the voters wanted a golf course with an event center and that was not the direction this was headed.
“The survey itself has a lot of extreme bias and the process does not seem fair,” stated Croskey. “You also brought up that this lease was in 2011, and in 2018 the course closed. Who was the landlord that didn’t enforce the lease and monitor their tenant in how they took care of this asset? Now the citizens of Pittsburg are being burdened because the person running the golf course just kinda did whatever and we didn’t keep tabs on how they were maintaining the city’s property.”
Croskey also argued that since most of the voters to keep the golf course were from people over 50-years-old, it helps support the seniors and giving them an opportunity for them which they are asking for.
“It’s hard to really make a decision when we really only see wording as such as, its a possibility, you don’t have a deal until there is money in escrow,” stated Croskey. “Anybody can write you a letter saying we will build you a golden toilets, we will build you whatever you want. Until you have money in escrow, you don’t have a deal. So I think for citizens to know what is going on and to make an informed decision, we need to know who are the players, what are the realistic options and get away from the such as, the potentially and things like that. I also found it interesting that Option 1 and Option 3 require the same subsidy, but one is going to take years to build and the other can probably start in a little bit.”
Croskey closed by saying staff did not provide a valid picture of what the golf course could be and that he was concerned because it doesn’t provide a voice for all of Pittsburg. He also added the golf course can draw people if they found the right tenant to manage it properly.
“We are making wrong decisions with bad data,” stated Croskey.
Brandon Johnson, who is interested and have had talks with the City of Pittsburg to take over the course, spoke during public comments addressing the city managers claim of a $17 tee time calling it a “hot deal” that a company owns and will sell it.
“The Pittsburg golf course failed because the management failed. That is why it failed. If you get someone who knows what they are doing and has certain skills that a lot other operators don’t have, the course will succeed,” said Johnson who continued by agreeing with other speakers that the kids do need other outlets for sports. “But there is a golf course there. If there was a pool, I wouldn’t want the pool closed, if there was a baseball field, I wouldn’t want the baseball field gone to put a soccer field.”
Johnson continued by calling the golf course an asset to the city and it could again be a great asset in the future.
“I am prepared and have been prepared to put up half of the money,” said Johnson. “You have the cost at $1.1 million, I would put up $550k and let me also say that I offer to take over the operational cost now when the golf course would be closed not making any revenue.”
Johnson encouraged the council to work together with him because the youth need to learn the values that golf instills but also highlighted the course failed because the city did not provide the oversight.
“I have been prepared to take over a golf course for the past year. I have the equipment, I have the team, I have the money and resources, ability and desire to make Pittsburg golf course a great facility for all its members,” stated Johnson. “Not just the old, not just the young, not the women, not the men, make it a great facility for all. And the city wont have to spend a dollar after we get it to where it needs to be, I don’t want no subsidy but its thrashed and there are things that need to be done and I am willing to put in half the money.”
Councilmember Merl Craft stated they had to look at economic development rather than continuing to subsidize facilities.
“In order for a city to grow, you have to have revenues coming in. It’s easy to say that we would like to use these funds and do this and pay for this, but the bottom line is where does that money come from?” asked Craft. “It has to come from somewhere. We just had a meeting a couple of months ago about raising water rates because those fees were passed on to us. The citizens were up in arms about a $3 increase on the bill.”
Craft continued saying less than one percent of the 72,000 people in Pittsburg were golfers and questioned what the subsidy per person for that one percent would be.
“Our responsibility is for the growth of this community to project out what is this community going to look like, the health of this community going forward. We have a one time chance because we have land,” explained Craft. “Everyone talks about economic development. Why don’t we have this in our community? Why don’t we have that? We don’t own any land. Kind of hard to do that. We have an opportunity to do something great for our community. We have an opportunity to do more, we have an opportunity to do a lot of things, economic development opportunities for our youth. We have to think smart. We can’t just think of budget. We can’t think from the heart. We have to think because we are put here to do what’s best for this community. Economic Development, the healthier community, financial, healthier community that is so important. So again, look at the numbers. One percent.”
Councilman Juan Antonio Banales agreed with Craft.
“It is my perspective that economic development should be and must be a key part of the future of this city and this site is an opportunity to move in that direction,” said Banales. “I’ve said before that I strongly believe that public use uses should be a future of this site. I do not believe in forever subsidies. I think that if we were to maintain the golf course, it would be a subsidy and a cost to taxpayers in the long run.”
Banales stated the city could pair economic development with ensuring strong public uses for the site.
Councilmember Jelani Killings began his comments directed at speaker Brandon Johnson who wants to take over the course claiming Johnson even admitted that the greater need was for kids in the community. He then stated the city needed to be fiscally responsible.
“Just to take the holistic approach to this because we do want to make sure that the city remains fiscally responsible and moving forward, it’s been shared a lot of times about looking at our budget and looking at what’s coming with retirement and pension costs and a lot of other things. And the only way to move forward is through economic development and seeing some growth in terms of the revenue that comes to the city,” said Killings.
Killings then reiterated what Craft stated about the one percent versus the rest of the community.
“For me personally, I would love to see some type of multi-use on that golf course, on that acreage that we have a multi-use definitely want to consider any economic development opportunities for potential revenue. I would also want to see more of the community being able to utilize that land,” said Killings. “I have the same sentiment, you know, I grew up here in Pittsburgh as well. I am 32 years old and I’ve never been on that golf course.”
Killings added he liked the idea of a business park or technology park.
“We’re hearing the ideas about economic development, whether it’s retail, potential, hotels, things of that nature. But I was really captivated even tonight about here, the opportunity for a tech center. So when I think about that community center, it’s not just the sports, but what if we had a top notch, you know, business center or computer center for our youth to learn about coding, which is the wave of the future,” explained Killings. “There’s so much opportunity that is before us that if we were just to say let’s keep it a as it is and not consider the options. I think 10, 15 years from now, people will look at this council would say, we missed an opportunity.”
Killings also stated it was important they look at the needs of the entire community, not just mob rule on a survey or speakers tonight.
“If it was just a mob rule, we might go in any direction that any majority wants, but the reason why you elected us to be educated about the issue, to have the research about the issues, to understand the financial impacts and the sustainability of the city,” said Killings.
Vice Mayor Sal Evola questioned staff on the land use after a speaker brought it up which the golf course is currently occupying half of the land—staff replied half of the land was flexible, while the smaller portion is restricted to recreational uses.
Evola then asked if there were talks about building housing. Staff replied as of Monday night, there have been no talks. He then asked about bills being that were put on the city such as some lawsuits which cost the city $150k to $200k.
Staff stated that beyond the lawsuit, there’s the remaining challenges that would need to be addressed just to re-open the facility—specially trip hazards, deferred maintenance and repairs, ADA compliance while saying the city would likely have to supplement the golf course in some form.
Evola stated it would be accurate to say the management of the golf course could have managed it better saying in 2006 he was elected and in 2008 they opted to outsource a lot of items—a decade later, some worked out and some did not.
“I look at what other cities like Antioch, who subsidize their Golf Course. I sat with the city manager from Antioch on Thursday night. He reported to me it’s between $300k to 400,000k a year, and that is with a $200,000 event center. If you were to build it in today’s dollars and I just want to ask you if that’s a correct assumption on the construction of that event center in today’s dollars construction costs are through the roof right now with all the construction that has happened,” explained Evola. “We’re not be at all surprised your best guess estimate for replacing a facility like that, so if any is subsidizing public golf course to the tune of $300k to $400k a year with an event center that has one of the best cooks in kitchens and food that it puts out for the dollar that it charges. So even with that, you have a city subsidy on a facility, but if you were to build it today, just the debt service on that building would be a million dollars a year. Just the debt service on the construction of that building, let alone the.”
“I don’t like the position were being put in, but I don’t know what choices we have from a financial standpoint,” stated Evola. When you look at what it would be to try to replicate the same, I remain concerned about the open space. I remain concerned about the people that are concerned about building homes at the golf course. I’m concerned about the homes that are immediately adjacent to the golf course. I’m concerned about what ultimately happens there immediately off of Leland Road, and we don’t have any of those proposals in front of us today, but what this council is faced with tonight based upon the action that this council took two months ago.”
Evola thanked the community for expressing their views and opinions.
“Everyone has to have a vision towards the future,” said Evola. “When I first got elected, our vision was to do whatever we could to keep the golf course alive and that was outsourcing it and that has not proven to be the best decision and the financial realities we are left with today and bringing it back.”
He further explained they were limited by the budget.
“This is a very contentious issue that we’re looking at, but at the end of the day, the voters have put us in office to make the best possible decision for the greater good of the financial health of this city. I don’t think anyone expects us to make a decision that is going to continuously put us at a deficit with our budget. We have a fiscal sustainability ordinance that we worked on. We watch our dollars. We’re very careful on our spending,” stated Evola.
Evola closed by saying the City has to make up a million dollars, so hypothetically, with the golf course stays open, the City will have to make up $2 million dollars in their budget.
Mayor Pete Longmire said he loved golf, but said golf was not the only solution to prevent officers from running after youth, there are many options such as recreation centers.
“I am not in support of nor will I vote for putting additional money into the golf course,” said Longmire. “As I see it today. I do believe that we have greater opportunities for economic development and be able to receive a gift that keeps giving to the community that’s going to serve a greater good. We all have heard people say, we’re going to remember you at election time. That’s fine. Remember that we’re trying to do the most prudent thing for the greater good and not make an investment that we know and we see every day across the country that are going out of business. One of the nicest golf courses I know at the Wynn hotel has got to be closing their doors to golf, so we need to do things differently than what we have before.”
Longmire stated he was not afraid of something that may not be popular.
“It’s not popular and I don’t apologize for feeling this way, but the numbers speak for itself. At the end of the day. We have to live within our means,” stated Longmire. “I am very open to, um, the other options that are on the table.”
The council directed staff to explore economic development opportunities with diversified recreational opportunities, multi opportunity sports along with passive recreation.
Evola stated that whatever they decided, he did not want houses build near the homes already bordering the property.
The council also discussed the idea of keeping a 9-hole golf course, however, that was quickly rejected after staff stated the cost of an 18-hole golf course and a 9-hole golf course were nearly the same.
The council stated they did not want to place houses, shopping centers—only development that is recreation related.
The council directed staff to work on economic development as priority number one followed by multi-purpose options as well. The issue will come back to the council in the future for discussions on property use.