So, another thing the City Council tried to sneak by on the consent calendar at their February 14, 2018 meeting was another $70K for the Reidy Creek Golf Course. Whoa, I’m jumping the gun a bit here. I just realized I didn’t mention in my last blog that the sixteen-year extension of Heritage Charter School’s lease was also on the consent calendar. Things on the consent calendar are usually voted on without discussion or debate. Consent calendar items can be pulled from the calendar by a Council member or by the public, so the item can be discussed and debated. Paul McNamara had pulled item ten about the Heritage lease. Patricia Borchmann pulled item five containing the increased funding for the Reidy Creek Golf Course. The item 5 was innocently entitled: Financial Report for Quarter ended December 31, 2017 and Budged Adjustment. Borchmann objected to this attempt to sneak the increased funding by the public.
Councilwoman Olga Diaz said that every time the expense of the golf course was more than anticipated. There never seemed to be an answer provided to the council about what to do about this problem. One golfer had complained to her that only one person was manning the golf course when he was there. She noted that J.C. Resorts (the company the city hired to run the course) ran several golf courses successfully, and held lots of tournaments. Was the city prohibiting such tournaments? Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek told her that neither the city or J.C. Resorts prohibited tournaments, but the small size of the clubhouse limited the range of such tournaments. He noted that there were always at least two or three employees on duty, but that they were working with the city to save money, and staff was the most expensive expense for the course. Deputy City Manager of Administrative Services, Sheryl Bennett, explained this year the tunnel under North Broadway on the course had been flooded, and that had significantly reduced business.
Diaz suggested that perhaps the city should look into getting another company to run the course. She wanted to read the city’s contract with J.C. Resorts.
City Manager Jeff Epp patronizingly explained to Diaz that the contract with J.C. Resorts had been approved by the city council, and it could be difficult for the city to dissolve. He pointed out the golf course did pay, in part, for the city’s debt service on the bonds the city had issued to pay for the course and the flood control basin, and if the course was closed, the city expenses would increase. He said he would be “more than happy” to let Diaz read the contract with L. C. Resorts, sarcastically adding that it was great reading.
Councilman Mike Morasco started his comments with “[i]gnorance is bliss!” I found his comments to be so uncalled for and rude to Diaz, that I had to go back to the video of this part of the meeting to rehear his statements as my anger distracted my attention for a few minutes. He used the golf course at least three times a month. He said there were always six employees, and he knew them all. They loved what they did, and were always very cordial. He knew that many coaches, teams and clubs used the course. It was an executive golf course, which meant it did not offer all the services of a full blown course. The flooding of the tunnel had discouraged regular customers, because they did not like to drive across Broadway.
Mayor Sam Abed accused Diaz of always picking on that golf course. The city had a $4 million recreational department—why didn’t she look at some of the other programs to save money?
The item was passed with the usual “four yes votes, Diaz voting no.”
I’ve written about this fiasco before. https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/04/05/beware-of-developers-bearing-gifts-of-golf-courses/
One thing that Bennett said caught my attention when she was explaining about the flooding, she said there were water table issues. Now just recently, the council approved the North Avenue Estates project, where the council was assured by the developer’s engineer that the additional drainage into the North Broadway area would not increase the water table level. (See: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2018/01/15/same-ole-crony-capitalism/ ) If the existing water retention basin is already so saturated it is flooding in the tunnel under Broadway, how can it handle additional runoff? The city reimbursed New Urban West for its costs in constructing this water basin, which doesn’t seem to be working effectively.
Many more people used the East Valley Pkwy branch of the Escondido Library than this golf course. Councilman Ed Gallo, Morasco, and Abed all voted to close that library. But, unlike many of the golfers, the users of that closed library were not part of the good ole boy network. To close that library and privatize the one remaining public library in Escondido, is an exercise in true ignorance—ignorance of the value of libraries and the value of an educated populace in maintaining a democracy.