Investment in city golf courses right decision

The City of Columbus took an important step last fall when it agreed to regain control of the city’s two public golf courses, Greenbelt and Par 3. It wasn’t a step taken lightly because city officials knew that capital investments for future course improvements would be needed.

Regaining control of the courses after a private operator said he no longer wanted to run them represented a vote of support by the city that offering golf to the public is important.

The municipal courses provide a great service to a cross-section of the community. Greenbelt and Par 3 enhance our community’s quality of life and are assets that can factor in to the decisions people make about where to live.

We are heartened that the Columbus City Council gave initial approval to the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department’s plan to invest nearly $1.1 million in reserve funds for capital improvement projects. The largest portion is targeted for new equipment needed to maintain the city’s two golf courses.

The vote wasn’t unanimous, as City Councilman Frank Miller questioned the wisdom of investing a large portion of the money into golf when it’s not proven that the courses will be financially successful. That’s a fair question, considering taking over the courses brought with it a financial challenge.

The courses will have ongoing maintenance needs that must be addressed. Purchasing new equipment is a start, but more money will be needed to keep the courses in the condition golfers expect.

However, a commitment to the courses means providing the necessary financial support in order to operate them as well as possible so they remain open. That makes purchasing the equipment a “must-do” action. The courses are less likely to remain viable amenities if needed financial support becomes a wait-and-see process.

Buying the new equipment also should be viewed as a positive investment because a financial plan by the Park and Recreation Department projects that the courses will nearly break even for the next two years before turning a profit the third year. If, however, the courses ultimately prove unprofitable and unsupportable, the parks department can repurpose or trade in the equipment.

The city council’s final vote on the parks department’s capital improvement plan is expected Tuesday. We urge approval again.

It’s important for a city to ensure that amenities are available to its residents to enhance their quality of life. Doing so contributes to making the community a great place to live, work and play.

The city providing the necessary support of Columbus’ two public golf courses is the right thing to do.