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Recreation Board Drops Pursuit Of Seaside Golf Course

Daily Astorian | Feb. 22, 2013 3:21 p.m. | Updated: Feb. 22, 2013 11:21 p.m.

Contributed By:

NANCY McCARTHY

SEASIDE — No more efforts will be made to acquire the Seaside Golf Course, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District board agreed Wednesday night.

The recommendation to forgo the pursuit of the golf course was made by the district’s general manager, Justin Cutler.

Cutler said that, over the past six months he had met with “countless” community members who had voiced both their concerns and support for the acquisition of the golf course.

Potential funding partners and the owner of a full-service restaurant had also expressed interest.

“However,” Cutler added, “based on several unknowns existing with the current zoning, overlay restrictions, the complex nature of the existing ownership, deferred maintenance, the lack of ability to expand use and add additional parking, I recommend that the board forgo moving forward with the purchase of the Seaside Golf Course indefinitely.”

The 102-acre golf course on the south side of Seaside is listed for sale for $2 million. It is owned by a family estate.

According to an analysis of the golf course’s potential, the district could have lost at least $74,000 a year if it had retained the property as a nine-hole course. The study, conducted by National Golf Consulting Inc., of Florida, was commissioned by the district board.

But during the past several months, Cutler had proposed that a park be created on the property, with trails, picnic areas, a high ropes challenge course, archery range, dog park and other recreation facilities.

To pay for the park, Cutler researched public and private sources that might provide grants.

Supporters, including the district’s former general manager, Mary Blake, who spoke at Wednesday night’s meeting, said the park would provide a link to land to the south owned by the North Coast Land Conservancy and to the beach three blocks to the west. The new park also would offer more recreational activities that could attract tourists.

But opponents said they didn’t want their property taxes to be used to maintain the property. Many wondered if a park was the best use for the land, and some said they preferred that the district focus on providing indoor recreation, such as indoor tennis courts or batting cages.

Others said they wanted an affordable public golf course to remain on the site.

Although Cutler also urged other public and private organizations to consider a partnership to acquire the park, none came forward.

Board Chairman Mike Hinton said that, although a partnership would be a “good project,” it could be complex. “It deserves more time to be worked out,” he added.

In other business, Cutler said the district staff would be reviewing the district’s fee structure.

He said he would look at the way other fitness facilities charge for memberships and classes. The district has received complaints that patrons must pay additional fees for classes even after paying monthly fees to use the pool and the fitness room, Cutler noted. Fees for those both inside and outside the recreation district also will be examined.

However, before any fees are changed, community meetings will be held to gather public opinion, Cutler said.

“There are a range of options to consider,” he said.

Cutler also noted that the Sweet Affaire, a wine and hors d’oeurves event held last weekend, netted $9,000, more than most years. The proceeds will be divided with the Seaside Rotary, which helped to organize the annual event. The district’s share will go to pay for scholarships for patrons who cannot afford to pay the full price for district activities.

This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.

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