OCEAN CITY — After three many years, Ocean Metropolis’s municipal golf course Eagle’s Touchdown is in want of considerable infrastructure upgrades together with elevating sure low-lying holes to mitigate tidal flooding.
Throughout a price range listening to final week, Eagle’s Touchdown PGA Course Skilled Bob Croll and Golf Course Superintendent Joe Perry introduced to the Mayor and Council the municipal golf course’s proposed price range for fiscal yr 2022. Largely as a result of shedding a lot of the season final yr due to the pandemic, the golf course’s bills outstripped income.
The municipal golf course is an enterprise fund, and as such its price range is supported largely by means of person charges. In an ideal yr, spherical charges and different user-generated charges on the facility assist the golf course with little or no contribution wanted from the city’s normal fund, however final yr was removed from the everyday yr.
Whereas the pandemic created income challenges for Eagle’s Touchdown final yr, the bigger long-term subject is the necessity for vital repairs on the municipal golf course, which is situated off Route 611 in West Ocean Metropolis.
Eagle’s Touchdown stays a gem among the many space personal programs and was ranked by Golf Advisor journal this yr because the third finest course in Maryland. There have been years when Eagle’s Touchdown has been ranked tops within the state, however it has been persistently within the prime 5 through the years.
Nonetheless, after three many years, Eagle’s Touchdown and its infrastructure are in want of renovation. The golf course has served the city and its residents and guests nicely, however the renovations are wanted to ensure that the municipal course to stay viable within the regional golf market.
The objective is to develop a golf course renovation grasp plan, carry out survey and engineering work, acquire permits and retain the providers of a design or construct agency to make modifications to sure recognized holes with a purpose to cut back harm from recurring tidal flooding occasions. A pre-master plan evaluation has been accomplished, which recognized wanted repairs and enhancements to the course.
The best precedence are measures to scale back repeat harm and gap closures as a result of tidal flooding by elevating the elevation on 5 low-lying holes, changing storm drain outfalls and putting in extra flood management enhancements. Sure holes flood throughout excessive tide occasions and must be altered or deemed unplayable at instances.
A marketing consultant surveyed the course and developed a collection of suggestions to mitigate the flooding points. The mission, with an estimated $1.5 million price ticket, was listed as “essential” within the city’s most up-to-date capital enchancment plan. Whereas the golf course is an enterprise, these vital renovations will seemingly must be paid for as a part of a bond sale or contributions from the overall fund as pay-as-you-go initiatives.
“You’ve got a 32-year-old home and also you’ve completed a very good job holding it up, however eventually you want renovations,” stated Perry. “That’s the place we at the moment are. So far as the tidal flooding, when the downtown floods, we flood. We’re distinctive in that we handle our personal golf course. We don’t farm out that service.”
Throughout final week’s price range hearings, Councilman Mark Paddack questioned if person charges within the type of will increase in per-round prices for golfers may assist deal with the wanted enchancment mission.
“How can we make Eagle’s Touchdown number-one within the state?” he stated. “If we elevated the charges by even 50 cents or a greenback, we may dedicate the income to enhancing the flooding and draining points.”
Recreation and Parks Division Director Susan Petito stated there was flexibility within the spherical costs based mostly on demand, much like how resorts set charges, however cautioned Eagle’s Touchdown is a municipal course and regarded an amenity for residents and guests.
“Our objective is to be positioned out there as reasonably priced and an important worth,” she stated. “When the course will get full, the worth goes up. When there’s extra availability, the worth goes down. It’s a dynamic pricing course of.”
Council Secretary Tony DeLuca praised Croll and Perry for the administration of the golf course, however voiced just a little concern in regards to the hole between income and expenditures final yr, regardless of the challenges with COVID-19.
“Eagle’s Touchdown is a showplace and I’m actually happy with it,” he stated. “You each do an impressive job. Bills are up, and income is down. That’s not considered one of my favourite combos.”
Paddack reiterated his concept about nudging the person charges to assist fund the enhancements wanted.
“I’ve learn that evaluation, and I’ve seen the greens and fairways flooding,” he stated. “As an alternative of the taxpayers paying for all of this, I’d prefer to see if the customers may pay some portion of those bills. I do know that’s a problem, however perhaps in some way we will offset a few of this.”
Croll stated the course was nicely on its technique to ending within the black final yr earlier than the pandemic.
“We’ve carried out dynamic pricing and we had good improvement with it final yr,” he stated. “We have been trying like we have been going to get just a little income to place away. Then, COVID hit and we misplaced our total spring bundle season.”
Croll stated the present spring season goes nicely and the course is again on observe.
“When folks come to Ocean Metropolis, they play at Eagle’s Touchdown they usually like it,” he stated. “We additionally imagine we carry folks to Ocean Metropolis. I feel if we get a very good run with out interruptions, you will notice the income going up. We all the time present a premium expertise at an reasonably priced worth. We’re city-owned and we attempt to hold the worth at or under our opponents.”
Price range Supervisor Jennie Knapp defined the fluctuations in an enterprise just like the municipal golf course.
“The golf course is an enterprise fund,” she stated. “If they’ve an important yr, the income stays of their fund steadiness and that overage can be utilized to offset the price of a few of these initiatives.”