Members hope to buy golf course in Towson

Aug. 30 deadline set to arrange financing for Stevenson Lane club

July 13, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Members of the Country Club of Maryland have tentatively agreed to buy the financially troubled 18-hole golf course off Stevenson Lane in Towson, ending the chance that new owners would open it to the public.

The club's 300 members formed a committee in recent weeks to arrange for the purchase and raised $3 million to help pay for it, said Brad Seeley, a club member and neighbor of the site.

The seven-member committee also is seeking financing from area banks, and is filing papers with state tax officials to incorporate as the Country Club of Maryland Inc., an initial step in assuming ownership, Seeley said.

The price for the 160-acre site -- which was being eyed by the Baltimore County Revenue Authority, which runs the county's five public golf courses -- was not disclosed yesterday.

But the owners, 22 individuals whose families have owned the club since 1944, have given the group until Aug. 30 to arrange financing, said Mark P. Keener, a lawyer representing the owners.

Keener and Seeley said both parties hope to complete the sale by mid-October.

"If we can't get things together by then, we don't deserve to have the property," Seeley said.

Keener said the owners have been quietly discussing selling the facility to the revenue authority for the past two years.

A county revenue authority official said the agency backed off in April only when club members expressed an interest in buying it themselves.

"We didn't want to get in a bidding war with anyone," said George Hale, executive director of the revenue authority.

Hale said the agency never made a formal offer for the facility.

"Our main interest was in seeing it preserved as a golf course," Hale said.

Loyola College expressed an interest in buying the club when the county decided against the purchase, Keener said.

"It would have been a business investment for us," said Mark Kelly, a Loyola spokesman.

Kelly said Loyola ruled out the site because of the cost.

Seeley said that once the members assume ownership, they will seek new members, but will cut off the membership rolls at 350.

New and existing members will be required to pay a $10,000 initiation fee. But Seeley said he did not expect any problems attracting members.

"Most of the current members will be members of the new club," Seeley said.

The fee will entitle members to a share in the ownership of the club, he said, and 75 percent of the initiation fee will be refundable when the member quits, as long as there is a waiting list for new members.

"It'll be completely membership-owned," Seeley said.

Keener said if the members cannot arrange financing by Aug. 30, the owners will have to decide on "another option," which could include developing the 160-acre site.

"We would have to analyze all our options at that point," Keener said. "It's a large tract of land, in Towson, and many people have expressed an interest in it. But we have not had any serious discussions with anyone at this point."

Neighbors say they are eager to see the members purchase the facility.

"We're very excited about the prospects of the members taking it over," said George Good Jr., vice president of the 136-home Fellowship Forest Community Association. "I think it would be better run by the members than by the county."

Pub Date: 7/13/99

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