Lemoore staff recommends City Council lease golf course; Tachi offer still on table

The Lemoore Golf Course has been the subject of much discussion over the past year.
The Lemoore Golf Course has been the subject of much discussion over the past year.

Once again, the continuing saga of the Lemoore Municipal Golf Course will be front and center on the Lemoore City Council agenda Tuesday night as it continues its often cantankerous deliberations on the fate of the local recreational landmark.

This time around, the city staff, led by Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson is recommending the city lease the course. In his staff report Simonson recommends that “we narrow our focus and concentrate on finding a firm that could lease the golf course. Council previously requested that a perspective lease must include the first and last year’s lease payments which total $500,000. Staff has been unable to find one example of that existing anywhere,” stated Simonson.

Lemoore City Council February 4 Agenda

An earlier lease arrangement, presented to golf course manager Rich Rhoads, who sought to lease the course over 17 years, included an up-front $1 million payment.

Instead the staff report suggests the city seek a 10-year lease with an additional five-year option and see what the best offer is, while leaving the door open to negotiate the details of a contract.

The council over the past two months has been criticized repeatedly by members of the public upset with the council’s suggestions that perhaps Lemoore would be better off without ownership of a golf course.

Over the course of the two months the city has held two official public hearings, on December 3 and 17, as well as hold informal public hearings in subsequent council study sessions.

The city has received an official offer from the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi tribe to buy the course for $5 million, but no decisions have been made. Mayor Billy Siegel has repeatedly stated his preference to lease the course rather than sell, but always tempered his remarks with threats that the public can no longer afford the long established golf course that expanded to 18 holes in 1992.

The only other official offer was the lease arrangement from current Lemoore Golf Course Manager Rich Rhoads who has offered to lease it over the course off 17 years, pay off the loan and continue to have it owned by the city. However, he and others were taken aback when the city offered an initial lease arrangement that called for the up-front payment of $1 million, and which over the course of 30 years would have paid the city over $6 million.

Simonson reiterated that the city, if it were to sell or lease the course, had some specific requirements:

  1. The course must remain a public golf course.

  2. Junior programs and tournaments must remain a high priority and must be a part of any contract.

  3. Maintain the current relationships with West Hills College and Lemoore High School golf teams.

  4. Continue to work with Lemoore community groups and service clubs to allow for fundraising tournaments.

Recently the city used $1.2 million of general fund money to reduce the obligation the city has in paying for the course debt. The golf course is expected to be able to cover the $191,128 in yearly obligations that are scheduled to be paid off in 2020. In that year the obligation jumps to $300,000 per year.

The overall golf course debt is about $3.5 million.



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