Countryside Presentation August 4, 2008
All three proposals for management of Roanoke’s City-owned Countryside Golf Course will be laid before members of Council in a “closed door” session Monday morning. This is not the usual procurement process. A committee usually makes the selection and not City Council. The process is in place to protect against any protest by proposal responders. The more outside influence on the selection the greater the risk in opening the door to protest.
Those who submitted bids expect disclosure only after a contract is awarded and not before. Procurement Policy and FOI (Freedom of Information) exemptions make provisions for this type of contract negotiation. In this case it is resistance by Council members to any continuation of the property as a functioning golf course.
The City’s 2005 purchase of Countryside Golf Course for development is a faux pas of lame duck City Manager, Darlene Burcham. Rumor has it that Burcham will not recommend any of the 3 proposals to Council. Here again is a good article by The Roanoker Magazine on what transpired over the years CLICK HERE.
I have kept quiet on the responders’ identity but since running into so many people who already know secrecy seems to be moot now.
First it would be no secret that the current management group, Meadowbrook Inc. headquartered out of Clearwater, Florida put a proposal in for the 10-year management of the golf course.
Second there is a Richmond based company put in a proposal using a Steve Smith as a representative. Smith formerly employed as manager of Countryside was released by Meadowbrook more than a year ago.
The third prospect is a group named Silver Stone Management Company that includes Darrell Craft, Attorney and owner of North Roanoke Nursing Home. Former Council member Alvin Nash pulled the group together and would serve only as marketing director. Nash is President of the Countryside Golf Association and longtime member of Countryside Golf Course. He had stepped down as President during his Council tenure.
According to Nash the group has a golf pro, grounds superintendent, and a financial manager in the wings. He also stated that the presentation to the selection committee would ask for no money from the City. Meadowbrook had indicated that a new irrigation system, cart path repairs, and clubhouse maintenance would amount to over $1 million. Burcham has indicated that $2 million tops would suffice.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) stated that there would be a performance evaluation after the first 5 years. Nash indicated that Assistant Manager, Brian Townsend told all 3 interested parties at a general information presentation that after the first 5 years the contract could be terminated for any reason. This was a sticky wicket.
Nash indicated the group was willing to make the repairs themselves and after the first 5 years they would buy the golf course from the City at the price they paid for it.
What does the group expect from the City? Answer: A commitment to continue the use of the property as a golf course. Why? Answer: To make it financially feasible to invest dollars into the course by the group. They expect a commitment from the City to keep the property functioning as a golf course. No pulling it out from under them after investing significant dollars into its improvement.
The plan is to entice more tournaments to play on the course. Currently only the Sheriff’s department holds its annual tournament at Countryside. The Fire Department and Police Department hold their golf outings elsewhere. Another part of the plan is to involve RCPS offering lessons and golf camps. Just as Roanoke County plans to charge City residents more for using their multi-gen center – Roanoke City residents would get a break on using the City-owned golf course. This plan is just for starters according to Nash who would market the golf course.
Nash asks for an advisory board to oversee its performance and upkeep. The Countryside Neighborhood would have a place on this board.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Roanoke City Politics
Tags: city_council, Countryside, golf, Meadowbrook, neighborhood