There’s no “golden key” to fix the budget deficit of the city-owned Hidden Valley Golf Course, Delaware Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller said.
“It’s going to be a combination of things that we’re going to have try,” he said at Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.
Hidden Valley opened in 1968 with the city operating the 1,647-yard, 9-hole par 28 golf course in 1975. Since 2004, Hidden Valley has lost about $15,000 each year and the fund balance will deplete within the next three to four years, according to a draft’s strategic plan to make the course sustainable.
The board approved the plan, reviewed by the Hidden Valley Working Group, for City Council’s consideration. The plan projects a revenue increase of $14,250 for 2017, including with the introduction of alcohol sales on the premise. The additional concession would generate about $6,000 in revenue after costs were deducted for the refrigerator, ice maker and a liquor permit.
“It’s a big money maker,” said Joshua Bricker, a board member. “It’s really loss revenue right now because if you go out there it’s already out there. It’s just people bringing it in on their own.”
Other area golf courses are selling alcohol without major problems, he added.
The plan proposes using “volunteer rangers” to prevent golfers bringing their own alcohol to the course and move play along during busy periods. Volunteers would be compensated with golfing privileges based on service hours.
Delaware YMCA Associate Executive Director Jeremy Byers said golf courses in South Carolina, where’s he played, would have someone check bags for alcohol at the first tee. He suggested a similar practice for the city’s course.
Councilman Kyle Rohrer said it would be illegal for people to bring their own alcohol to the course if it received a liquor permit.
Alcohol sales were one piece to improve operations at the course. Other proposals included reviews for the facility’s rates, staffing options and sponsors.
In addition, the working group proposed improvements for the course’s marketing by creating social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter; restore the Little Brown Jug tournament as a community event; offer special discounts to businesses; and trending golf games such as “Games on the Range,” where range ball targets are added to the driving range such as Golf Tic-Tac-Toe.
Proposed uses for Mingo Park gym
In other business, the board discussed the YMCA’s proposal to utilize the indoor gym space for its before and after programs during the summer.
The YMCA has a summer camp program from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. when school is not in session. During camp, the nonprofit essentially offers a daycare program with its before and after care program from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m., but has to be licensed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
The YMCA uses the Bixby Room at Mingo, which is allowed by the state to accommodate 24 students. Roger Hanafin, the YMCA family director, said because of growing interest the organization wanted to license the gym space to increase capacity of up to an additional 34 children.
The space would only be used during inclement weather, he said, and the space would be split with the Bixby Room.
“Hopefully we’re serving more kids.”
Some board members were concerned that the program could increase the number of campers, who regularly use the Jack Florance Pool at Mingo. Bricker said some of the pool’s season-pass holders would not like to see more children with less supervision.
Hanafin said the YMCA’s ratio is one counselor per eight children.
The YMCA will apply a permit from the city’s chief building official. Miller said the program would be monitored for its impact on the open gym space.
In addition, the YMCA plans to create a sports camp at its facility on Houk Road. Hanafin discussed with board members about using the rear shelter at the Spray and Play.
Further discussion will be brought up at the next meeting.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.