Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Erie Golf Course Could Be Open Next Year

This is great news for the golfer in me. I'm still not sure I get the financial logistics behind it, but I love playing golf on the hill up there. And there is that beautfully rennovated clubhosue and bar with the picture window looking north toward the lake.

But, here's the chronology of events in regards to the money spend on that place. You tell me who is going to end up footing the $2 million bill for the improvements that were made.

1. City of Erie builds golf course on land it go pretty cheap. By the 2000s, the course is considered a money loser because of lack of irrigation and tricky set up that causes right-handed golfers who slice (the majority of average and below average golfers) to hit an inordinate number of balls into the woods.
2. Millcreek builds golf course and learning center on old Harper Road Dump/Superfund site. I don't know what Millcreek paid to do this and how much money came in grants, but they did a great job turning a wasteland into a pretty decent golf facility, and from what I understand it has been fairly profitable, mainly due to the range, which is nice and fairly conveniently located for people living on the west side of the city, western Millcreek, and Fairview - in other words, probably the majority of golfers in Erie County.
3. Erie, under the direction of Mayor Rick Filippi and right-hand man Jimmy Casella decides to spend like $4-5 million on improvements on Erie. How they expect to earn this money back is beyond a casual observer like myself, but apparently, Council buys off on it, and the plan is passed.
4. Somehow, the investment gets cut down to like $2.5 million or less, and the city goes through with the first two phases of its planned development at Erie.
5. A few holes are shutdown, leading to a couple pretty lean seasons that presumably cause Erie Golf Course to lose even more money than it usually does, but the new course finally opens to great fanfare.
6. The course is nice, but apparently, at least according the Mayor Sinnott, is still losing money, so after he gets elected, he shuts it down and tries to sell it.
7. Of course, then the notorious deed restriction comes to light and Erie can't sell the course to real estate developers whose market is tanking anyhow.
8. Erie remains closed for a couple years. The City makes its debt payments on the course, and pays maitenance fees so they don't lose it as a usable golf course.
9. Finally, Millcreek comes to the rescue because their course is getting destroyed by this airport runway project and gets the County to agree to pay Erie like $2 million from this casino fund, which will pay off the City's debt on the course. Apparently, this money is compensation for the land the Airport is seizing from Millcreek in the name of progress.

So, everyone is happy, right. I guess. But, what about Brian McGowen and the Summit boys. Is this really responsible spending of the gaming revenue? As I said, I'm in favor of it, because I like to golf up there and as a result will likely get my share of the $2 million worth. But, what if I didn't golf? Is the land the Airport Authority purchasing from Millcreek really worth $2 million? I guess that is really what it comes down to.

Anyhow, I'll be interested to see how this ends up. Maybe it will all go smoothly, but if so, why? I mean, related to MTR and gaming money especially, we''ve seen quite a few stinks raised over less than $2 million.



DrD said...

I think they should re-zone the golf course property and put the tire burning plant there.

Just kidding.

I'm glad this is working out for you, Tiger, seems like a little cooperation between Erie and Millcreek goes a long way.



gornall said...

It works out well for the City as all they did was lose money. As a Millcreek resident, I hope it works out well for the Township.