Info, ideas, and some flared tempers shared at meet on future of Batesville’s Municipal Golf Course; listen to highlights, entire meet

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Listen to the entire meeting regarding the future of Batesville’s Municipal Golf Course by scrolling to the end of this post.

A large crowd, healthy discussion, and a moment of flared tempers were all part of last night’s public meeting at the Batesville Community Center concerning the future of the city’s Municipal Golf Course at J.K. Southerland Park.

Batesville Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Owens led the meeting — sharing financial data, dispelling rumors, and listening to comments and suggestions from the audience. Owens told the crowd the financial problem facing the golf course, which opened in 1975, is not isolated to Batesville.

Numbers shared during the meeting showed an average total revenue at the course of around $74,600 over the past three years while expenses grew from $192,083.34 in 2016 to $250,332.16 in 2018. Owens cited employee costs as the big reason for the rise and noted that along with the increase in the minimum wage, nothing will change in terms of upward expenses. 

(For more on the financials provided, scroll below.)

An increase in rates and fees is likely in the future, Owens said, and he discussed other opportunities for boosting the numbers, including more efficient use of time and materials by the city; more marketing and promotion of the course; and special events, such as tournaments. 

He also said the city has to encourage more use of the course and increase membership. Current membership at the course is 110 members. Broken down, the numbers include 31 adults, 36 family memberships, 41 seniors, and two youth memberships.

The subject of increasing the membership and the use of the course did provide for a heated moment between two audience members. When a longtime golfer at the course voiced his complaints to Owens about younger golfers being “smart” with older players when it came to standard golf course etiquette at the muni, another audience member told the golfer to “shut up.” Both men were asked to leave the meeting. You can listen to the exchange below.

In terms of rumors, Owens clarified that the land was not donated, but carries the name of J.K. Southerland because he was head of the parks department at the time and was deeply involved in the development of the course. The city purchased the property from the Batesville Chamber of Commerce in 1967 for around $110,000. However, because some state and federal monies were utilized, it was specified the land will remain “outdoor recreational parkland” for perpetuity unless another piece of land with the same monetary and same recreation value is provided in its place.

Owens stressed that no one has had a conversation with him about taking the land and using it for any other purpose other than recreation.

One golfer suggested to Owens introducing golf into the local schools as a physical education elective to increase interest and youth participation at the course. Listen to his comments below.

 

 

The meeting ended with Owens encouraging the group to be more active in communication with the parks department and proposed holding regular meetings about the status of the course.

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Above is the financial report for the golf course that was distributed at the meeting. With the report, we have noted the following:

  1. Expenses have grown to 3.5 times income from 2016 to 2018. The vast majority of that increase comes from two areas: paid personnel and grounds maintenance.
  2. Personnel pay has increased over $41,600 during the three-year time span.
  3. Grounds maintenance increased almost six-fold, going from approximately $2,300 in 2016 to $13,600 in 2018.
  4. On the income side, membership fees have decreased by $4,500, dropping from $28,300 in 2016 to $23,800 in 2018.
  5. Green fees were up and down — increasing by $5,000 from 2016 to 2017 and then decreasing by $3,000 from 2017 to 2018.
  6. Revenue is down by about $5,900 from 2017 to 2018 — a 7.5 percent drop.
  7. And in 2018, operation of the golf course reached an expense of just over $250,000.

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Early in the meeting, a humorous moment occurred when Owens informed everyone he would be a straight-shooter when it came to giving as much information as possible. An incoming call to a phone in the crowd provided the appropriate music for his comment. Listen to the comments and phone ring below.

 

 

To listen to the entire meeting, click below.

 

 

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Featured image via Save JK Southerland Park Facebook page

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