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City to revisit private management for golf course

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Rob Norris puts the ball at Bradford Creek Golf Course on Oct. 11, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Greenville officials tonight are expected to recommend that the City Council approve a contract with private company to manage Bradford Creek Public Golf Course — moving away from an option to hire a firm to improve marketing to the course.

The agreement with Billy Casper Golf would still result in expenses for the city, according to an abstract of a presentation scheduled for during the 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 200 W. Fifth St. The city has negotiated a not-to-exceed clause in the proposed contract that would cap any net annual loss for the duration of the five-year contract.

Specifics are to be presented tonight along with an estimate the effectiveness of hiring a marketing firm. But staff will recommend going with private management, according to the agenda documents.

The city purchased Bradford Creek for use as a public golf course soon after flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The failure of revenues to meet expenses at the course has been a regular concern for some city leaders and residents since then — others believe the city should subsidize course like it does others Recreation and Parks programs and facilities.

District 5 Councilman P.J. Connelly offered a motion during the Oct. 17 council meeting directing city staff to investigate whether outside management could operate the course more efficiently. The motion was approved unanimously. 

Staff put out a request for proposals to management companies. Three companies bid on the job, and council selected Billy Casper Golf for further negotiations on June 5.

Billy Casper manages 80 municipal courses and about 60 other courses. In nearby New Bern, the company manages the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association Course. During the June 5 meeting, staff said their recommendation of Billy Casper was partially based on the company’s strong marketing strategies.

After a closed session meeting in August where council was briefed on negotiations with Billy Casper, Connelly asked that discussion on hiring a marketing firm instead of Billy Casper be added to the Sept. 14 meeting’s agenda.

At the Sept. 14 meeting, council discussed the benefits of both options, but members ultimately felt they did not have enough information. At the suggestion of City Manager Ann Wall, the discussion was tabled until staff could conduct a more thorough investigations of both options.

Exotic animal ban

The council is expected to vote on an ordinance banning the exhibition of exotic animals during Thursday’s meeting. 

During a public comment period on May 8, several citizens shared concerns about a roadside exotic animal exhibition and requested such exhibits be banned. At the Sept. 11 meeting, council members directed city staff to draft an ordinance banning exotic animals in the city. The council asked an exception be made for private ownership or accredited organizations. 

According the information given to council preceding their vote, the city currently allows a person, business or event to have an exotic animal upon receiving a permit from the Animal Protective Services Division. Since 1998, the city has issued 44 of these permits. 

The proposed draft of the ban would prohibit keeping of exotic animals for the use, display or exhibition for commercial purposes. Accredited zoos or aquariums, licensed wildlife sanctuaries and universities registered until he Animal Welfare Act, as well as pet shops and River Park North, are listed as exceptions to this rule. 

The ordinance allows allows individuals to keep exotic animals with a permit from the city. The permitting process allows the city to oversee the care of the animal, to ensure it is healthy and safe.

Individuals and outreach programs from the listed exceptions are required to purchase a permit, costing $75. Violators of the ordinance are would be issued a $250 fine. 

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579

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