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Wednesday night, the Oro Valley Town Council voted to keep the town-owned community center and two 18-hole golf courses in a decision that has—for the most part—ended more than a year of uncertainty regarding the facilities’ future.

Mayor Joe Winfield proposed that the council select the 36-hole option instead of closing one of the courses. Councilmembers Bill Rodman, Steve Solomon, Rhonda Piña, Josh Nicolson and Joyce Jones-Ivey voted in favor, while councilmember Melanie Barrett voted against it.

However, Winfield’s vote for the 36 holes came with certain criteria the town should strive to meet.

The golf courses will have to “operate as a municipal public course,” and offer open tee times on both courses instead of just one, in order to “maximize play and revenue.”

Staff will be required to establish “measurable and time-sensitive targets” for the amount of revenue, rounds of golf played and memberships, which will be used to “monitor the success of operating and maintaining the 36 holes of golf” as compared to pro forms staff had previously prepared for the council.

Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan will be required to coordinate with the town’s golf operator, Troon Privé, on a “business development plan” meant to grow memberships to 275 and reach 40,000 rounds of non-member play by fiscal year 2021-2022. As of yesterday, the town has 240 golf memberships and last fiscal year saw 33,000 rounds of non-member play.

Membership revenue should increase 10 percent by Jan. 1, 2021. Membership rates were already set to increase by 5 percent starting on Jan. 1, 2020, but going forward reaching that 10 percent may not necessarily entail another rate increase for members, according to town manager Mary Jacobs.

Staff will be required to issue a request for proposal to “obtain bids from regional or national companies experienced in managing municipal golf courses for the operation of the town golf courses.”

The companies are expected to propose ways to “reduce operating costs, grow rounds of play and provide for ongoing capital costs.” Troon Privé currently has a contract with the town that will expire in June 2020.

Staff will evaluate options and create recommendations for how the town should finance capital improvements on the golf courses and community center. Work will begin with the community center’s restaurant, The Overlook, which will be closed and moved to the first level. The upstairs space will be repurposed for exercise equipment and other fitness uses. Then, as the town’s parks and recreation needs assessment is completed, further improvements to the facilities will be prioritized through a master plan and paid for out of the Community Center Fund.

Staff will be required to negotiate with the Cañada Hills Community Association and the Villages at La Cañada Homeowners Association to decide on their financial contribution to the town’s golf courses, which would begin on July 1, 2020. The Cañada Hills CA and Villages HOA had previously offered $100,000 and $25,000 annual contributions, respectively.

More details about the criteria for 36 holes and the town council’s discussions will be in next week’s Explorer and Marana News.

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