Monday, November 2, 2020

Municipal Golf Is A Conundrum For Oro Valley

The plan is for financial sustainability by 2023
It's been almost a year since the Oro Valley Town Council voted to create a scenario where the town would pay a municipal golf subsidy not more than a $800,000 by 2023.  Council came to this agreement after 8 months of public hearings and sometimes endless discussion.  

Achieving the subsidy goal requires accomplishing major five steps (see panel).

Where do we stand today?

Two accomplishments
Two of the items have been accomplished. The food operations are the responsibility of the course's new operator, Antares, and the town reached agreement with the homeowner associations to fund the courses.

Covid-19 put Pusch View lease option "back"
The rest of the plan is open. As a result, as reported last week, golf operations are expected to lose about $1.4 million this year.

Shortly after the plan was approved the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic happened. This had two impacts. One was an increase in golf revenue for the from March through June. Golf was, at that time, the only sport an adult was allowed to play. 

The second impact has a substantial impact on the ability to achieve financial sustainability of municipal golf.  HSL, the owner of the El Conquistador, has seen a substantial decrease in resort occupancy. As a result, they are not in a position to enter into a lease for the 9-hole course. Leasing the facility is a major source of savings that is now "off the table.

As a result, it is still owned by the town. The town has maintained the greens on that course and has not over seeded the rest of the course. This has caused anger among residents whose homes are in this area. They want that course maintained. You should expect them to attend en-masse to the November 19 council meeting where council will consider Pusch View.

Ripple effect on Parks and Recreation
All of this has a "ripple" effect on the parks and recreation master plan that is being developed. That plan is focussed on the total needs of the community (yellow on map in panel); not on the specific needs of any one group. 

Municipal golf has a separate plan.

The master plan does not include anything regarding the possible actions that council may take regarding the Vistoso Golf course land. What happens to this property matters to thousands of residents in Ranch Vistoso.

Council faces daunting challenge 
Oro Valley does not have an infinite supply of funds to pay for everything that everyone wants. Some tough decisions are in the offing. The result is that the council has the daunting challenge of balancing the needs of the total community, as represented by the parks and recreation master plan, with the wants of three constituencies (panel above).