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City Offers Only Plan For SHSU Golf Course
By Michelle C. Lyons/The Huntsville Item
The city of Huntsville was the only entity to submit a proposal to Sam Houston State University last week spelling out plans to construct an 18-hole championship golf course on university-owned property.
In June, the university sent out requests to about 45 golf course development companies, golf course architects and other organizations, including the city of Huntsville, for proposals to construct a golf course on a 154-acre tract owned by the university.
Proposals were due by Aug. 16, with a proposal from the city of Huntsville coming in as the only response.
But that's not to say that a deal between the city and SHSU is guaranteed. Not only must the proposal be approved by the university's Board of Regents, university officials already have indicated some changes they would like to see in the city's proposal.
"There were things that the university wanted us to change and so we're working on making some changes," said Huntsville Mayor Bill Green, who declined to specify what changes might be made. "Then I suppose that the (university) president will take it to the Board of Regents and if they approve it, they will probably give some latitude to the system's attorney to work out a final contract."
Green said some of the changes are "minor" and some are "philosophical in terms of the approach we took."
SHSU President Bobby K. Marks said he would like to see the changes in place and a proposal ready to present to the Board of Regents in time for its Aug. 30-31 meeting.
"We're working with the city to see if we can resolve differences about how this agreement should be worked out," Marks said, also declining to specifically cite what changes should be made. "I think we'll be able to do that. I'm optimistic about it. There will have to be some changes made in the proposal they've given us."
It is not the first time the university has tried to move forward with plans to build a golf course on that property. Some time ago, plans for a course were approved by the Board of Regents but later killed by the Coordinating Board of Texas, which had doubts as to whether the university should be in the golf course development business.
With that in mind, a new plan where the SHSU property would be leased out to a second party which would oversee the course design, construction and operation for a period of at least 30 years was born.
Under the city's current $4.25 million proposal, the city would be able to lease an additional 20 acres of land from a local family which would allow for the construction of a 7,145-yard championship-length golf course.
The estimated construction period of the course would be from Oct. 1, 2000, through Oct. 1, 2001, with an opening date of December 2001 projected. The course would be maintained as a nonprofit operation offering lower-than-market green fees for the public and special low fees for SHSU students, faculty and staff.
An annual guaranteed minimum lease payment to SHSU of $162,700 for the duration of the lease is allowed for in the city's proposal. The city likely would finance the venture through the issuance of certificates of obligation payable over the proposed 30-year lease period. That debt, city officials said, should be covered by the golf course's revenues. Along with the construction of the golf course, the city also has planned for a number of related programs that would benefit the university academically and athletically. The city also would like to see the construction of a hotel and conference center adjacent to the golf course.
- Michelle C. Lyons may be reached at (936) 295-5407, ext. 3018 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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