New Castle News


February 14, 2014

Our Opinion: Action needed to prevent taxpayer losses at Sylvan Heights

NEW CASTLE — Should New Castle taxpayers subsidize the operations of Sylvan Heights Golf Course?

Our answer is a flat-out, simple no.

Golf is not an essential city service. And while the case can be made municipalities ought to provide recreation facilities for young people — such as basketball and tennis courts — a golf course does not fit into that category.

For one thing, golf is generally not a kid’s game. We think it’s safe to say the vast majority of Sylvan Heights users are adults.

And — to be blunt about it — golf is not an activity that’s generally enjoyed by folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum. It takes money to play golf, whether the course is publicly or privately owned.

We bring all this up because it was reported this week that Sylvan Heights, the city-owned golf course located in Shenango Township, lost $25,000 last year. That’s money that had to be covered by New Castle’s general fund — another way of saying taxpayers had to pick up the tab to help people play golf.

The loss follows several years where the course was running close to even on its budget. Prior to that, a string of annual losses was halted after it was discovered a former employee had been stealing from the course.

At that time, there were discussions about privatizing the course in some fashion. Apparently, deed restrictions prevent the city from selling the course outright, but it still has the option of turning it over to a private operator for management.

If that were to occur, it would be up to the operator to make sure all costs were covered. The city could even demand revenue from the course as part of the agreement.

Of course, some person or entity would have to be willing to shoulder the risk in these circumstances. Perhaps there would be no takers to such a proposal.

But under the circumstances, the city needs to explore its options. A financially distressed community cannot afford to lose money on a golf course.

We recognize that privatization is more complex than it sounds. Any agreement would have to protect the city from liability regarding actions not under its control. There also would have to be requirements that the private management entity maintains the course and structures. The last thing the city needs is a firm coming in and draining the course of money without making the necessary investments.

Regardless, taxpayers should not put money into Sylvan Heights. The city should increase fees or make other changes before dipping into the general fund to support the course. The red ink at Sylvan Heights must stop.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Wheaton.jpg Steelers' Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Polanco.jpg Harrison’s four hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday. Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider also went deep for the Pirates, who avoided being swept in Colorado for the second straight season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates Rockies Baseb_Fusc.jpg Anderson leads Rockies over Pirates 8-1

    Brett Anderson pitched effectively into the seventh inning for his first win in more than a year and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Friday night.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • MANGINO.jpg Mangino finding new home at Iowa State

     The first time Iowa State defensive end Cory Morrissey saw Mark Mangino, the former Kansas coach and current ISU offensive coordinator stopped him in his tracks.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates.jpg Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Aloi.jpg Aloi's PIAA eligibility hearing postponed

    The wait continues for Nick Aloi. Aloi, who transferred from Ellwood City Lincoln High to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School on Jan. 21, still does not know if he will get to play a full season for the Leopards’ basketball team

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates.jpg Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers 12-7

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ManzielJersey.jpg Manziel scores as NFL’s top-selling jersey

    Second on Cleveland’s depth chart, Johnny Manziel already tops one NFL list.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huston.jpg Greg Huston: Pedro, Steelers' Training Camp and LeBron

    Pedro Alvarez’s throwing woes have not subsided after the All-Star break and he has become a defensive liability, especially late in games.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates.jpg Pirates beat Rockies 5-3 for 3-game sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsbur‘gh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Shoot For 2
House Ads
Photo of the Day