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Marshall city golf course gets reprieve

By Phil Latham
Aug. 27, 2012 at 11 p.m.

MARSHALL - Oaklawn Municipal Golf Course will remain open at least through 2013 as Marshall city commissioners took no action to close it following an hour-long discussion during Thursday's meeting.

That discussion was the culmination of a year during which the city has tried three times to sell the course, attempted to lease the course and even pay the lessee, and set Sept. 15 as a date to close it down.

During the course of the meeting, with about a dozen members of Oaklawn in attendance, every commissioner who spoke on the matter said it should be kept open to try to bring it to, or near, a break-even status.

As it is, Oaklawn is projected to cost taxpayers about $100,000 more than it will bring in during 2013 and will need almost immediate capital expenditures of about $36,000 for a greens mower that is not included in the budget. Jack Redmon, who heads the parks department, suggested other capital expenditures will also be needed during 2013.

Still, commissioners were hopeful that Oaklawn's fortunes could be turned around.

Commissioner Bill Marshall said he was impressed that so many turned out at a recent public hearing to support the course and that convinced him to want to keep it open.

"We need help from some of you," he said, speaking to the club members present. "We need to take your ideas to make this work."

The night's discussion began with Commissioner John Flowers questioning the validity of the amount city staffers said could be saved by closing the course, saying that the number had changed frequently. At one point, a clearly frustrated City Manager Frank Johnson asked Flowers to explain his problem.

"You're sitting there looking like you don't believe us," Johnson said. "We're very confident of our numbers."

Flowers said the cost of the course was only a tiny portion of the city's budget.

"We clearly spend less than one-fourth of one percent on Oaklawn Golf Course," he said. "I think more people than one-fourth of one percent play golf."

"If you close this course it will never be replaced. It will be gone forever. I am not for doing that."

Mayor Ed Smith agreed that there were other areas, such as the Convention Center and City Arena that did not have revenues that equaled expenses and that it did not seem right to take action on the golf course without addressing the others.

At the end of the discussion, Smith told commissioners, "If you want to close it you need to make a motion."

No one spoke and the course will remain open.



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