Holmes Harbor golf course purchase set

The first tee at the Holmes Harbor Golf Course could soon see regular use or at least regular mowing. The Holmes Harbor Sewer District will buy the course from owners Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper for $200,000.  - Ben Watanabe / Record file
The first tee at the Holmes Harbor Golf Course could soon see regular use or at least regular mowing. The Holmes Harbor Sewer District will buy the course from owners Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper for $200,000.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / Record file

Property owners in the Holmes Harbor Sewer District will in all likelihood become the proud owners of a golf course soon, with documents expected to be signed Feb. 14.

Stan Walker, chairman of the district’s board, said its attorney has been drafting purchase documents and is expected to present them for signing at the board meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in the board room at the end of Chip Shot Lane.

Cost of the fairways and greens will be $200,000, an agreement worked out with present owners Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper. They purchased the course in July 2011, about a year after it closed, but were never able to open it as they had hoped.

Reopening the golf course is key to the success of the sewer district’s land purchase, Walker said. Whoever is found to run the golf course will have to maintain the grounds, which serve as a drainfield with holding ponds for the district’s treated sewer water. That would save property owners approximately $70,000 annually, or $15 on their monthly sewer bill.

The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District was approached last month about operating the golf course, Walker said. “They’re a positive bunch of people,” he said, but no deal has been reached. A golf course in included in the district’s comprehensive plan.

Commissioners for the parks district were weighing the operating costs against possible gains. Joel Gerlach, a parks commissioner, said his agency would not have a formal response in support or against running the golf course until March at the earliest.

“We’re looking at the feasibility, if it’s something that would stick within our program,” Gerlach said, adding that taking on another expense may be too risky while the commissioners also look to hire a director.

“We have suffered some cuts and cutbacks, there are less taxes. The parks (district) is running pretty tight right now.”

Walker said there is another potential operator he is unwilling to identify at this time.

“I’m very confident we can have somebody run the course,” Walker said.

The purchase agreement does not include the clubhouse, which once featured a restaurant, or the maintenance building. But is does include three-year leases for the maintenance building and the pro shop, the latter of which takes up a small portion of the clubhouse.

The pro shop and maintenance building leases are aimed at enticing someone to operate the golf course. “We know we can make that happen,” Walker said.

Another board member, Meg Whitman, was skeptical when the idea of purchasing the golf course surfaced months ago, but she’s not against the agreement set to be signed tomorrow.

She said use of the parking lot by golfers would have to be assured, but she’ll likely vote for the purchase. One reason is that homeowners in the area moved there because of the golf course. “People care about golfing,” she said. “I’m leaning toward it (a yes vote) but I’m worried about expenses that could come back to haunt us.”

Walker, however, is certain that a golf course operator will be found in short order. “There’s no sense buying the fairways if there’s not a golfing operation,” he said. The purchase won’t be complete until it clears escrow.

As for when golfers can tee off on the reopened course, Walker said it could happen as soon as April or May.

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