Officials hesitate as golf course losses mount
Plante Moran auditor Martin Olejnik and Sr. Manager Eric Conforti presented questionable Hilltop Golf Course forensic-audit irregularities to Plymouth Township Board of Trustees, June 2017.
Dec. 26, 2017 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
Plymouth township officials continue to discuss the future of Hilltop Golf Course as financial losses at the municipal facility continue and the current management company has requested $1 million for repairs and improvements.
The golf course, long a subject of controversy among residents and officials, is reportedly losing as much as $100,000 annually while a loan of more than $500,000 to the facility from the township general fund remains unsatisfied.
Currently, the 18-hole municipal course is managed by Billy Casper Golf, Inc. and representatives from that independent venture have requested renovation and installation of walking paths, concession improvements, new golf carts and removal of several trees on the course. Those renovations and maintenance issues could total as much as $1 million, according to township sources.
During a meeting last week, Township Supervisor Kurt Heise told members of the board of trustees that the township does not have the funding for those requested improvements. Representatives from the management company have said the course would be more attractive to golfers with the improvements helping reverse the annual financial losses.
Heise told the board members that the financial losses at the course could not continue while he was convinced that the golf course employees were “doing the best they can with what they’ve got.” He suggested that golf courses are being repurposed by communities and that the Hilltop site might be a recreational area to be used for walking, jogging, bike and cross-country skiing, with paths, green space, pavilions and other amenities.
He suggested forming a committee including township trustees and residents to examine possible uses for the site should township officials decide to close the golf course.
Township Trustee Bob Doroshewitz urged the board to examine all possible solutions before closing the golf course. Trustee Chuck Curmi urged the board members and the audience members not to interpret the discussion as a death sentence for the golf course.
Heise also suggested selling off a portion of the land on the southernmost section of the golf course for development of condominiums. He said he estimated the township could realize $2 million from the sale of that section of the property.
Treasurer Mark Clinton suggested that residents were already concerned regarding worsening traffic congestion throughout the township as more homes are constructed.
Heise said that no decision had been made but the management contract with Billy Casper will expire in March of 2019 and the township is required to provide the company with 120 days notice if officials opt not to renew the agreement.
Photo: © Don Howard / Associated Newspapers