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Wichita Park Board's goal: Not to close any city golf courses

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Sep. 12, 2011, at 8:34 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at 7:36 a.m.

— All of the city’s five golf courses should stay open, the Wichita Park Board has decided.

Instead, the board plans to propose alternatives — including possibly increasing greens fees and cutting capital improvement projects — to pay off the golf system’s debt.

“Our goal is to take a plan to City Council where we will not have to close any golf courses,” Bryan Frye, park board president said Monday night. The council would make the final decision.

The park board opted for the new approach during a meeting Saturday.

“They’ve gone to staff and asked them to run different scenarios,” City Manager Robert Layton said Monday. “They’ll trim down the capital projects and be able to pay off debt.”

The city’s golf courses make money — $180,000 in 2010 — but they haven’t made enough to meet their debt obligation since 2004.

They could face more than $12 million in debt for the construction of Auburn Hills and planned capital improvement projects.

Layton had recommended closing one of the courses — or finding other ways to cut costs — when he proposed the city budget for 2012.

Golfers throughout the city have been adamant. They don’t want any golf course closed.

“We have received some emotional letters,” Layton said.

Nearly half of the debt is for proposed capital projects, which could be cut, Frye said, such as new clubhouses.

“The golfers told us they don’t need new clubhouses,” Frye said. “They told us to concentrate on the golf — the sand traps, the cart paths.”

Layton said the board might also look at increasing green fees and at cutting other projects in the parks program to help cut the debt.

City golf has not met expectations over the past decade, creating a $7 million debt for Auburn Hills, which was built between 1998 and 2000 at 443 S. 135th St. West.

The other courses: L.W. Clapp, 4611 E. Harry; MacDonald, 840 N. Yale; Sim Park, 2020 W. Murdock; and Tex Consolver, 1931 S. Tyler Road.

The number of rounds played on the city courses is down 40,000 from 2000, Layton said.

The recession has affected golf courses around the country.

“In the last five years, more courses have closed than opened,” Layton said.

Frye said the board hopes to send a plan to the City Council by the end of the year.

“We want golfers to know what to expect by the time they start playing again next spring,” Frye said. “But our goal is to keep all the courses open.”

Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or rsylvester@wichitaeagle.com.

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