New Castle News

Closer Look

February 13, 2014

City considers leasing golf course

NEW CASTLE — Last year the city of New Castle lost approximately $25,000 in the operation of Sylvan Heights Golf Course.

“We can’t continue to lose this kind of money,” Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo said at city council’s work session this week.

Council president William Panella and Councilman Tim Fulkerson expressed the same opinion.

“We should at least break even,” Panella said, adding the city should explore the possibility of leasing the course.

Fulkerson said the city owes it to the taxpayers to see “if we could lease this golf course out to operate it.”

Mastrangelo said he would like to test the waters by mid-year to see if anyone is interested in leasing the course.

He noted he wanted to do that about three years ago, but received no response from council.

“I think this (a lease) is something we should consider.”

The course has had a history of running in the red, but did have a surplus from 2009 through 2011 before having a $5,300 deficit in 2012.

The city has attempted to stop some of the bleeding by buying golf carts as an alternative to leasing them.

Josh Latore, New Castle’s finance officer, said the city has purchased four carts and has allocated money in this year’s budget for 12 more. The electric carts range from $3,000 to $4,000 each, he said.

Last year the city spent $30,935 to rent carts.

Brian Heichel, city recreation director, said, “If we had our own cart fleet, it would curtail a lot of the cost.”

Noting the effects of this year’s winter weather, Fulkerson commented, “Our streets are popping like popcorn.”

Repairing the streets should be a priority, he said, adding the city should hold off on buying the carts.

Later in the meeting, as council discussed seeking bids to replace the roof at the Cascade Park dance pavilion, Fulkerson suggested repairs as an alternative to save money for other projects, such as street improvements.

However, Mastrangelo called it a safety issue, adding he did not want to take a chance of improperly repairing it and then having someone injured.

He said the pavilion generates revenue for the city from weddings and other events. Council has set aside $80,000 from the capital improvements account in this year’s budget for the roof.

Councilman Richard Beshero, in reply to Fulkerson, said all of council wants the streets to be repaired, “but we can’t forsake” other city projects for the streets.”

Current plans are to receive and award a contract for the roof at council’s March 13 meeting.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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