Monday, June 28, 2010

Response to Roanoke Times Editorial: Expect the unexpected

On Friday June 25, The Roanoke Times editorial board proclaimed that Countryside is a lost cause. Writing about the recent news that the bid for the Market building renovation came in well under budget, the RT said, “There is no bad news — unless those hankering for the city to reopen Countryside Golf Course attempt to convince Roanoke City Council to divert the savings to that lost cause.”

The Roanoke Times suggests that “If a surplus does remain when this project [Market Building] is complete, it should be used to counter the need for future borrowing, not for projects council has already decided are not priorities.”

Not Lost Cause...Lost Course

I beg to differ with these sentiments. On the contrary, not going forward with a revitalized Countryside Recreation Center vision is myopic. It’s the kind of thinking that will doom Roanoke to be another lost, aimless middle-sized city. With the new council ready to take charge, the time is now to revitalize Countryside and restore it for the benefit of the entire city and community.

I have every confidence that a revitalized Countryside Golf and Recreation Center would be a star financial draw in The Star City. Four years ago, when the city was bandying about strip mall development schemes, Roanoke County took a leap and developed Green Ridge Recreation Center in a gutsy public/private partnership. I’ll never forget sitting in on the early development meetings in the county; they had such a positive vision. Now, their vision has paid dividends. People are flocking to this place, and it has far exceeded all revenue projections. Despite the risk, they went for it. My hope is that the city council gives Countryside “…a chance … have vision … don’t be such weenies – take a chance like BOS did on Green Ridge Rec center.”

But who would run it? How about Meadowbrook? They walked away, but it’s come to my attention that they must not consider the course a lost cause. Scott Beasley, Meadowbrook Vice President, recently shared with Countryside Neighborhood Alliance president, Valerie Garner, that “We had an internal discussion today (Monday June 21) and if the funds were made available, we would be willing to get back involved under the original terms. They might need to be modified slightly but the majority are still good.” (used with permission from V.Garner).

Councilman Trinkle understood the frustrations of the residents and the need for resolution way back in 2008, “The bad in my mind is that this discussion has been going on far too long and has impacted those who live in the area and have lived with uncertainty for many years. One worry, historically based, is that with long discussions and debates the bold option gets whittled to a mediocre option not at all in keeping with original intent and thus doomed for failure.”Re: A New Path For Countryside by Dave Trinkle”.  It seems, the city is staring down the throat of Trinkle’s apocalyptic forecast.

Countryside is NOT a lost cause. It’s just the sort of the bold option for which Trinkle wrote back in 2008. But if the council doesn’t act to restore, Countryside will simply be a lost course with the cursed property doomed to breed discontent.

Read response in its entirety – CLICK HERE Not Lost Cause…Lost Course

Thomas Ryder, Roanoke

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

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Comments (3)

CountrysideLover

June 28th, 2010 at 2:25 PM    


I love Countryside, but it’s time to put this to rest. Our city cannot support a golf course, plain and simple. As much as I’ve loved playing the course over the last nine years, it really isn’t fair for the citizens to subsidize my golf. It just isn’t. I don’t like the decision to close the course, but for the overall community it was the right thing to do.

AlsoLoveCountryside

June 28th, 2010 at 4:13 PM    


I love Countryside also and I disagree with “CountrysideLover” — It is very possible still to make the course profitable. But, do you know how many things the City subsidizes? How about the Civic Center? Market Bldg.? I’m sure there is a laundry basket full — we just don’t know what and the citizens are paying for those. Thanks for your opinion. It is great to live in a country where we can all have and share our own opinions.

CountrysideLover

June 29th, 2010 at 1:37 PM    


Also,

I hear you. I do. But if we look at Buena Vista, it’s difficult to run a course without massive subsidies shared by the entire community. Virginia Beach in fact just had to close/sell their four golf courses. 10 course in Myrtle Beach have been closed. Every private club in the area is underwater. The business of running a golf course is not what it used to be and there are myriad examples of courses across the country failing. Meadowbrook, if not for the very low annual rent of the course, would have never made it.

The civic center and market building, which I do agree are subsidized, also generate pretty significant tax revenue and more importantly the civic center in particular creates lots of indirect tax revenue from people shopping, eating, going to bars before and after shows.

Localities do subsidize many functions. But I’ve made the decision to spend a little extra to join another local course. A city of 93,000 people just can no longer afford to subsidize such things. It’s very sad to me but I do believe the overall good was served.

The question of what to do with the property is now what I think we should all focus on. I walked Countryside last week and even an attempt to restore it at this point would be super expensive. The greens, in my estimation, would probably cost 10k each to restore. Nevermind the rest of the course.

I love Countryside but government must begin to prioritize and live within its means. Countryside is a casualty of that but one that localities across the country are experiencing.

And I appreciate your comments about sharing our opinions. I agree.

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