Council rejects plan to form golf partnership

April 23, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

The Columbia Council turned down a proposal from developers last night to form a partnership to build and operate a golf course, an offer made just days before the council approved $5.2 million for construction of Columbia's own course.

The action frees the council to spend money toward construction of the Fairway Hills Golf Course, a second Columbia Association course that will wind through Town Center, Wilde Lake and Dorsey's Search.

The council had given the developers 45 days from March 1 to answer legal and financial questions about the proposed project.

On March 1, the council adopted its $10 million capital budget for fiscal 1994, which included the $5.2 million for Fairway Hills. The budget also included a stipulation that the council could not spend money on Fairway Hills until the developers' proposal had been reviewed.

The developers, Thomas J. Scrivener and J. P. Bolduc, president and chief executive officer of W. R. Grace & Co., proposed a

three-way venture with the Columbia Association and county government in which they would donate land north of Route 108 near Harper's Choice. The county, in turn, would borrow money for construction of a golf course. The association would manage the course, which would be part of a residential development, and would have the option to assume ownership when the bond debt was paid.

The council cited uncertainty over whether the county would deed the property -- which is outside Columbia's border -- to the Columbia Association for $1 as a main reason for rejecting the proposal for now and pursuing its own plan.

"My own view is, it's not a viable possibility," Council Chairman John M. Hansen said of Harper's Choice. "The county executive makes it clear that we can't own the golf course."

Vice Chairwoman Karen A. Kuecker of Owen Brown agreed.

"I feel ill at ease putting the fate of our golf course project in the hands of a County Council 30 years from now," she said.

Doug Wilson, head of a Columbia Association golf study committee, suggested that the developers' project could be re-evaluated if Fairway Hills thrives and interest remains. "In the absence of a firm commitment and because we're so many years ahead of them, I say go with Fairway Hills," he said.

In other action, the council:

* Approved spending $115,000 for renovations to the Columbia Ice Rink, despite the pleas of the president of the Howard County Youth Hockey Club to consider spending $310,000 to increase space at the often-crowded rink.

The $115,000 will pay for interior renovations and structural improvements to make the facility look newer. For an additional $195,000, the council could have built a second-floor area above the "warming room" to create more space.

"Any money spent, we're grateful for," said Mark Daughaday, the youth club president, who also was representing figure skating and adult hockey clubs. "With the extra money, we could bring the building up to the standard of any building in the region."

* Approved a proposal offering Columbia residents 50 percent off daily admission rates to association facilities for four weekends a year -- one each season. It also approved a plan to allow residents free use of all recreational and community facilities Oct. 10.

The purpose of the plans is to make residents more aware of the Columbia Association's facilities and services.

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