Also in letters: Holland Park, Amendment 4, gun buy-backs
Reduce fees to increase play at Palm Harbor Golf Course
The city will spend $215,000 to repair sand bunkers at Palm Harbor Golf Course, and not all residents are happy about the costs. At the risk of sounding ignorant, may I ask a question? Since the city is paying Kemper to “manage” this course, why are they not taking care of these things?
The city loses a lot of money annually on the golf course, and the quick fix always suggested is to increase fees. My thinking is in the other direction. Let's reduce fees to make this city owned course more affordable and increase play and therefore increase the bottom line. They could offer incentives too: say a four- or 10-play card at a discounted rate.
Yes, we residents are fortunate and proud to live in a planned community that is kept clean and green. Two hundred fifteen thousand dollars isn't much compared to that park overhaul at the cost of more than $3 million: Holland Park must have been on the list to be updated, but it was pretty nice the way it was.
Editor’s Note: You asked about Kemper, so I asked the city of Palm Coast for clarification. Here is the response from the city’s finance director, Chris Quinn: “Kemper is responsible for the daily operations and maintenance of the golf course. These costs are paid for through user fees and supplemented with general tax dollars. Capital updates, such as bunker rehab, new greens, and new equipment are the responsibility of the city, no matter who is running the day-to-day operations.”
How to fix the Palm Harbor Golf Course
As a person with personal experience in golf course ownership and management, allow me to offer some observations regarding the ongoing deficit at the Palm Harbor Golf Course.
First, the Palm Harbor facility is a very nice golf course. As a municipal course, it would rate in the top 10% I have played over the years. Considering the fact that play is down on many golf courses around the country, it's probably time to change the Palm Harbor layout a little.
It was stated the traps need over $200,000 of maintenance, and this type of work is required every seven years or so. Sand traps cost money every year and considerably more money in that seventh year. If you simply take the number of traps the course has and divide them into the cost for support, you will find the cost per trap to be quite high.
Two things can be done to impact the cost of their maintenance: Eliminate a number of them, and make an additional number of them smaller. Smaller traps cost less to maintain than larger ones. This is a municipal course, not a championship course.
Another easy target is the grass. Every acre cost money to mow. The varying lengths of grass dependent upon their purpose (greens, tees, fairways, rough) require different pieces of equipment and the dispatching of personnel to tend them. Stop mowing “everything.” Leave the areas around the tee boxes to grow some. Make it high rough, mowed rarely. It won't slow play as very few players will be dribbling it off the tee box 50 yards and looking for the ball. Mow an access path to the box from the cart path allowing both golfers to get to the tee box and the mower to get there to cut it. I have no drawings for the teeing areas and don’t know how much ground we are talking about, but it would drop required equipment and payroll hours by dropping acreage.
I disagree with those opinion writers who merely want to close the facility. I'm sorry, but it is a public facility, like the tennis courts, like the pool, like the public parks. I rarely use the public parks, but they do cost money and add to the quality of life for those in the area.
We do need to hold those that manage these facilities and our local government leaders accountable for insuring the cost to the public is limited and our dollars are well managed. If the deficit of the golf course were coming out of their pockets, I think they would have found ways to limit the expenses.
As a separate comment, the City Council should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a public park to be closed and suffer cost overruns like the one on Florida Park Drive. There has been a lack of accountability regarding the contractor, city manager and City Council on all aspects of that disaster of a project. I'm sure, however, upon completion every single one of them will surround a ribbon with large scissors and take credit for the work.
Editor’s Note: I asked the city for some answers on Holland Park, and here is the response from spokeswoman Cindi Lane: “The Holland Park project is not over budget. It's about six months behind schedule, and we are charging the contractor $1,000/day for not bringing the project in on time. So the overall cost will actually be lower than what we anticipated. On the other hand, we are without the use of our park for much longer than we expected, and the city is not happy about that at all.
“Right now, progress is being made, and we are pushing them to give it 110% effort to finish the work. We are still hopeful the contractor will be able to complete the project. But the city is keeping its options open, as well. It’s possible we will end up firing the contractor and getting someone else to finish the job. If additional costs were required because of that, the city would go after those costs. The contract protects the city financially in this situation.”
Observer fails to look at the big picture with regard to solar energy
Your editorial on the issue of solar energy and Amendment 4 in particular is one of the most myopic, one-sided, negative assaults on the benefits that solar energy can provide to all of the population with its increased use. You totally ignore the looming specter of global warming! Maybe you are at odds with virtually every scientist on the planet?
Yes, everyone is not able to afford solar. But because you are not able to afford it, you should not put up financial barriers, i.e., additional taxes, on your neighbor who has the wherewithal to do so. You should be thankful and appreciative of your neighbor who is willing to spend money for the common good.
To put a tax burden on a neighbor who wants to do a good deed and also save some money is a ridiculous point of view. All the tax burden will do is slow down, or even worse kill an industry that would be providing sorely needed jobs. With this kind of thinking, we would still be using candles instead of electric lights.
Your one-sided attack on the use of solar and the solar industry is very narrow in scope and really not a fair analysis. As an example of your unfairness, I point out that your large negative article is prominently displayed on page 6A while a rebuttal more positive article is stuck way back on page 15A, and there is only a small note referencing that it even exists.
And lastly, I take exception with your statement, “with every new law, there are always winners and losers.” The adoption of solar energy by all that can afford it is a benefit to all that inhabit this fragile planet, and any impediments, taxation or otherwise, is shortsighted and absurd.
Lawrence A. Scheffler
Gun buy-back programs are nothing but smoke and mirrors
When will these gun buy-back programs end? When will people realize they are noneffective, feel-good measures and do absolutely nothing to prevent gun-related crime?
Can anyone show their effectiveness? Have any of the surrendered guns been traced to determine if they were used in any crimes? The article in the Observer says a reported stolen firearm was turned in, and will be returned to its rightful owner, and as ridiculous as it may seem, assuming the person who handed it in is the person who stole it, he was "rewarded" for the theft of the firearm.
Steal a gun, make a buck at a gun buy-back.
And a Japanese war relic was turned in: oh boy, I feel safer now that that is off the streets. The sawed-off shotguns, although illegal, by themselves don't commit crimes — someone is behind them. Were they used in any crimes?
And all these guns will be destroyed. Why? I say sell them and use the money for some good. Doing that would amount to a little something worthwhile coming out of this gun buy back smoke and mirror show.
Editor’s Note: I asked the Sheriff’s Office for a comment, and here it is, via spokesman Jim Troiano: “This was our first time participating with the gun take-back event and the first one we have done in years at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Any time we can offer individuals to be able to turn guns in without any questions asked, it helps reduce the chances the guns are used in felony crimes. The money used to purchase the guns came from forfeiture funding, or money we took via court proceedings from those engaged in crimes.”
Troiano also stated that in the event, 731 guns were taken back by 13 law enforcement agencies from Flagler County to Titusville, with Flagler’s being the third-most successful, with 78 guns taken back.