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TWINSBURG -- A new $6.1 million clubhouse will be built to replace the current facility at Gleneagles Golf Club, possibly opening its doors a little more than one year from now.
City Council approved 4-2 on Jan. 24 a contract with Cavanaugh Building Corp. in Akron to construct the 19,000-square-foot clubhouse, which will include a restaurant and banquet facilities, a pro shop and an area underneath the building to house golf carts.
Council President Gary Sorace recused himself from the vote, saying he was a longtime friend of Tom Cavanaugh, the builder. Councilors Brian Steele (Ward 2) and Maureen Stauffer (Ward 4) voted against the contract approval.
A related ordinance to "construct, furnish and equip the facility" at $6,138,200 was passed 5-2, with Sorace and Steele casting dissenting votes. A third clubhouse-related ordinance, which would approve the issuance and sale of the same amount in notes, in anticipation of the issuance of bonds, was passed unanimously.
Mayor Ted Yates said that he anticipated a groundbreaking for the new facility by the end of February and a completed facility by March 2018. Right now, the city is working on the parking lot "to accommodate the spring golfers." Once that is complete, the groundbreaking will be scheduled, he said.
Both Steele and Stauffer said that while they agree a new clubhouse is needed, they questioned whether the city should build one so large at what they believe is too high a cost. They said they have both received calls from residents who have concerns about the facility.
"I agree we need a clubhouse," Steele said. "I just don't think we need something that big."
"I'm uncomfortable with the cost, and with the restaurant and banquet facility," Stauffer said. "The residents who called me were uncomfortable with it, too."
Yates said he hasn't "received one phone call from residents who said 'No, I don't like how this looks,'" regarding the renderings of the structure.
"I would not support this type of decision without a lot of research and a lot of study," Yates said. "I think it's the right move. We have to make a change there. We aren't sure what will happen with the current facility day-to-day."
Both Steele and Stauffer -- critics of the facility -- said that since the clubhouse was approved by a majority vote, they would support its completion.
Sorace added that while he recused himself from the contract vote, he, too, would have voted "no" had there been no conflict of interest.
Yates has said the clubhouse can be a moneymaker via the restaurant, banquet facility, greens fees and golf cart rentals.
Estimates have the restaurant bringing in about $500,000 in sales per year, netting anywhere between $125,000 and $130,000 in profit. The banquet facility could bring in about $400,000 per year, city officials believe, with about $125,000 to $135,000 of that in profit. Yates added that these numbers are conservative and based on research on similar venues in the area.
"I know the restaurant business is a risky business," Yates said. "It will be an additional benefit to what we have today. Unfortunately, Twinsburg doesn't have a lot when it comes to restaurants and places to go out. We take money to places outside of Twinsburg. I think this can be a tremendous asset to the community.
"What I was hung up on was the banquet facility, how that would work. I researched this with [Councilor] Seth Rodin (Ward-5), who has 20 years in the banquet facility business. There are significant dollars that can be generated. We have a need for an upscale banquet facility. I haven't made this decision lightly. I have done the research and I think this is the right thing for the city."
Deb Jones, chairperson of the golf advisory board, said she supports the proposed clubhouse and its features and that the facility can be a boon to the community.
"I'm very much in favor of the new golf clubhouse design," she said. "The mayor has showed the design to the golf advisory board, and he has shown us the numbers, and we feel these numbers are based on what we would consider very solid data and information. We also feel the numbers seem conservative for the type of revenue we could bring in, but I believe it's a good way to get started because it will take a little time to get the banquet space set up and reserved and the golf tournaments set up."
Rodin said the Twinsburg Community Center is rented out to different groups and felt that the clubhouse's proposed banquet center could benefit the city in a similar fashion.
"[The Twinsburg Community Center] is a great building but it's not the prettiest ... and I think we deserve better than some of those rooms. There's a lot of things we can do. The banquet facility is an enhanced version of what we can do."
Jo-Ann McFearin (Ward 3) added that several groups have contacted her and that they support a facility, like the proposed clubhouse, to host banquets and fundraisers.
"There are a lot of groups, like Twinsburg Baseball [League] or booster events, who hold their banquets outside the city because they because there is nowhere else [in Twinsurg] to have them," McFearin said.
At-Large Councilor Bill Furey said selling the bonds to finance the clubhouse will give the city the time to pay it off. With fluctuating interest rates, he said, it is prudent to lock in a deal now. The $6.12 million in bonds will be dated at "approximately Feb. 1, 2018" with a 5-percent interest rate. The bonds will mature at 25 years, according to the legislation.
Furey stressed that this is not a new tax on residents. The bonds prevent the city from having to put a lot of money down on the project.
"This is not a tax proposal or income tax in connection with the golf course," Furey said. "Some people were posting online that they thought this was a tax increase. There is no tax increase here. This is not going to affect the residents' property tax or income tax. What the long term goal would be is that we would pay down some of the amount and then go into a 20-year finance rating."