Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Countryside Direction Finally Made Clear

After heated debate Roanoke City Council agreed 6-1 to move forward with a Request For Proposal to maintain Countryside as an 18-hole golf course. Those present literally stood up for Countryside. Only ONE stood up opposed and it was Hank Bostwick’s sidekick, Chris Berry of chrisberryonthe.net.
Besides myself, speakers included the President of the Senior Tour, Tommy Firebaugh, who spoke representing 130 members which includes members such as “Chip” Woodrum and Board of Supervisors member “Butch” Church.
Also speaking in favor of Countryside Golf Course was the well respected former Director of Athletics at Patrick Henry High School, Woody Deans.
The RFP will be for a minimum of 10 years. It will be put out for a period of 45-60 days per the City Manager, Darlene Burcham. She also reiterated that the current operator Meadowbrook (who may also bid on the operation) would be asked to continue operating the golf course for 8 months until fiscal year end June 30, 2009.

Hank Bostwick seems “alarmed” that his so-called – “Sources close to the City government have indicated to me that based on the age of the course, it is likely that the irrigation system–which is an asbestos irrigation system–will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Roanokers will be shocked, no doubt, when they are hipped to how much it may cost to encapsulate and remove the asbestos from the course and replace the aging irrigation system.” Get with the program Hank, your sources are baloney. There IS asbestos in the irrigation system and according to the DEQ asbestos experts it can STAY in the ground undisturbed and another irrigation system installed. IF development had occurred the irrigation system would have been disturbed. THEN the developer would be subject to expense. Ony a fool of a developer would have not done their due diligence before committing to any ground disturbance.

Hank Bostwick’s StarCityHarbinger is again misrepresenting the facts of the meeting: He states that: “A few citizens, including Roanoke Star-Sentinel’s Council reporter Valerie Garner, spoke in support of the golf-course-in-perpetuity motion and noted that decaying infrastructure at the golf club and course need immediate resources from the City coffers.”

As a “surprise” guest at our neighborhood meeting on Monday, Sept. 8th, Mr. Rosen said “he had no problem with Countryside remaining an 18-hole golf course”. Then when asked “in perpetuity” -. Mr. Rosen responded, “YES” looking me straight in the eye. This can be confirmed by Councilwoman Anita Price who was present as well as other neighbors. However, Mr. Rosen contradicted that statement at City Council tonight when he questioned the city attorney – referring to Mr. Lea’s motion that Mr. Lea “meant the premise of the whole motion was to make Countryside a golf course in perpetuity and my understanding to that is no – I am just asking as a matter of law” (he was looking at the city attorney for a response). The City attorney explained (though I am sure Mr. Rosen already knew the answer) that the motion is NOT a contract. Then Mr. Rosen went on to say “I have a lot less issue with that.”

Mr. Lea is right that something else is “cooking” behind the scenes but this blatant contradiction is a much too obvious “red flag.”

This is what I said and is the exact text I read which I gave to the City Clerk:

It was on May 2, 2005, Council voted to take an option to purchase Countryside Golf Course. Here we are over three years later and time is of the essence with the lease ending Oct. 31st and with no RFP yet issued.

The “data and financing“ has been available for all these years.
There is no reason to stall the process any longer and risk the shutdown and eventual decay of the golf course. Decay of city owned property is NOT fiscally responsible. This DELAY is not physically responsible…. stalling leads to suspicion.
We are intelligent citizens.
I will quote a member of C
ouncil’s own words in an email dated 9/22/05 obtained from a FOIA request – that said, “this process is being watched by a large number of people who are intelligent and can determine when they are being involved or left out … trust is a major factor here …let’s do what we have to do to keep that with our citizens.” I have not forgotten those comforting words Mr. Lea and we are still watching and we are still intelligent.
Council had questions at the briefing on Countryside in regard to promotion of the golf course. If you initiate a “google” search of “Countryside Golf Course Roanoke” you will see that what comes up besides the airport hotels that tout it as an amenity for their guests. The results of the search displays the City’s website under Planning – Special Projects which says though stalled that the golf course is still slated for development and the RFP for development is still downloadable. It is no wonder that people say they think the course is closed. I ask Council to have this destructive promotion removed from the City’s website.
I ask Council to consider a ten year operating agreement as the minimum for the City to consider. To really recoup the City’s investment a 20 year lease would be a better. As Ms. Shuck stated at the airport commission meeting 20 years was OK with them as long as there was commitment by this council that the property would be used for golf course fairways. She also stated that golf course fairways was a preferred use by the FAA. Evidently the FAA considers golfers as expendable.
Again, I ask this Council to end this delay today and our anxiety and expediently instruct the City Administration to issue a RFP.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community

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Comments (4)

Chris Berry

September 16th, 2008 at 1:57 PM    


I’m not sure sidekick is really an accurate description since Hank and I have never actually met. We tend to be at opposite ends of the spectrum on just about every issue with the exception of this one. Would it be fair for me to call you Stuart Revercomb’s sidekick, or perhaps Wishneff’s?

For the record, I would like nothing better than to see Countryside preserved under private ownership. I simply do not believe that owning and operating a golf course is a legitimate function of a municipal government. We ought to be able to disagree on that without reverting to name calling.


September 16th, 2008 at 9:36 PM    

I’m very happy that city council has decided to support the golf course for at least ten years. That should afford the people who live there and the golfers who utilize the course some measure of comfort.

I don’t agree with chris berry, who is in apparent opposition to the city’s involvement in the course. There are many fine examples of localities sponsoring and financially supporting municipal golf courses all across the United States. I believe the city would be wise to find out how such municipalities as San Diego, CA and Abingdon, VA manage municipal golf courses and recreation spaces.


September 17th, 2008 at 12:37 PM    


Mr. Rosen contradicted himself from our meeting that he crashed. Telling us that “in perpetuity” was fine with him then at Council Monday was relieved it was not. Though this is what Vice-Mayor Lea really meant as did Mayor Bowers, Anita Price and Alvin Nash.

It is alarming that Mr. Rosen does not know the difference between policy and law. Nothing Council passes is “law” and no policy Council passes is written in stone. Even laws can be changed. His question to the City Attorney was a slick move to excuse his “yes” vote to placate those in attendance. Rosen has no intention of supporting a golf course – he has other irons in the fire talking in back rooms.

Henry Hale

March 20th, 2009 at 1:25 PM    

With all of Roanoke’s demands and shortfalls when it comes to financing, this issue should be placed in the hands of a private developer. The days of a municipality operating every “pet project” from the loudest squeaky wheel has to come to an end.

Has anyone looked at the graduation rate in Roanoke’s school system? There are many other places that the city’s money can be focused towards, and a private operator of the course would be able to properly market the golf course and hopefully develop it to a point to where there could possibly be mid-level professional tournaments hosted at the venue. The city would never be able to generate that type of venue at Countryside.

Having lived in Roanoke for all of my formulative years and my family having an over 100 year history in the city, it is distressing to see how unproductive and closed-minded its citizens have become. I live in Ashburn, which is located in Loudoun County, VA, and we have privately owned golf courses within walking distance from my home, that host tournaments and are profitable. They certainly don’t have asbestos anywhere near them to give us concern about our environment, especially for our children.

Valerie, you should take a trip outside of the valley and see what communities that are living in the 21st century are doing to make their projects and dreams come true, without depending on the government.

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