An Ellicott City firm has offered to spare the Columbia Association the anguish of developing a new public golf course at the former Allview Golf Course.
All the association has to do is hand over the land, nearly 200 acres.
Rainmaker Associates on Monday sent a letter to all nine ColumbiaCouncil members and association President Padraic Kennedy outlining the offer -- to build the golf course in exchange for title to the land. Letters also went to the Rouse Co., which owns a parcel needed for the course, and County Executive Charles I. Ecker.
"I'd like to see the golf course go in, obviously, but I'd really hate to see (theassociation) miss this opportunity economically," said Columbia Council Vice-Chairwoman Evelyn Richardson of Dorsey's Search village. Richardson is the leading proponent of a new golf course on the site.
She said the council would be under pressure to decide the issue because of an agreement with Rouse, which stipulates that if a private golf course developer does not come forward by May 1, it will be up tothe association to develop a course.
The agreement would also require a private developer to pay the association what it had spent on the course already, which now comes close to $800,000 in planning, permit and design work, Richardson said. Council member John Hansen of Harper's Choice said he had not read the letter, but his initial impression was not favorable.
"Do they have any bridges they want us to purchase as well?" he asked. Hansen and Richardson were among four council members who lost a vote to approve $5.5 million for building the golf course in the association's capital budget for fiscal year 1993, which begins May 1.
The measure was defeated by four other council members, swayed by the argument that economic times are too tight for such expenditures. The council passed a pared-down budget and the first reduction ever in the association's annual charge on property on Feb. 27.
One argument used by golf course opponents was thatit might cost the association more than it would generate, although proponents insisted otherwise.
That risk would be removed if the association accepted Rainmaker Associates' offer, said Todd Arterburn,a partner in the company.
"(The association) would not be responsible for the outlay of cash from here forward. Secondly, it wouldn't be subject to any of the risk," Arterburn said.
Donald Dunn, president of the Howard County Golfer's Association and chairman of the golf committee at the association's Hobbit's Glen Golf Course, said he was not surprised that private investors would be interested because of the demand for golf in the county.
"I don't think the Columbia Association can delay it any longer, given the alternatives that havebeen offered to them," Dunn said.
The company would develop a regulation 18-hole course that would take 2 1/2 to 3 years to get into play, depending on how long the permit process takes, Arterburn said. The course would in large part follow the routing plan already developed by the association, Arterburn said.