Let me make clear, I am in favor of South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District operating a Holmes Harbor Golf Course.
Because I live on the golf course I have a vested interest in seeing it be successful.
I’d be happy with the golf course being run by a private party, but I may be even more happy with the Parks and Recreation District people running the golf course.
Before moving to Whidbey, I lived in Salt Lake City. The city has operated nine municipal golf courses successfully for decades. Salt Lake County operates an additional six courses.
Surrounding counties, each within 45 minutes of Salt Lake City, probably operate as many as 20 additional courses. Many of these courses operate at profit that subsidizes other recreational activities — parks, youth sports, senior programs.
These municipal courses are being operated in a part of the country that is probably one of the most conservative.
I have been going regularly to Oak Harbor to play golf and spend my money in Oak Harbor, not just for golf, but also for eating out. That’s money I would likely be spending on South Whidbey if Holmes Harbor Golf Course was opened.
Beach Fire Grill has already been leased to a private party, so the argument suggesting that the golf course operation will benefit the owner of that building is not so persuasive. Perhaps the private restaurant operation will actually make the Parks golf operation more successful.
That’s good because they should be symbiotic operations.
South Whidbey Parks and Recreation operates parks for children and the public at large. Parks can be enjoyed by hiking, picnics, Frisbee tossing or just relaxing.
By the way, no one directly pays for any of these activities.
Parks also operates launch facilities for three lakes. I’m not sure boaters on these lakes outnumber potential golfers for Holmes Harbor Golf Course.
Perhaps it is OK to subsidize boaters, but a break-even operation on a golf course doesn’t make sense.
That presupposes it would be a break-even operation. It could very well make a profit that could be invested in new park facilities.
It is impossible for me to believe that you could not make a profit when you do not have any investment in land or water to recover.
My last argument for Parks and Recreation to get into the golf business at Holmes Harbor is personally selfish but still in the best interest of Island County — home values in the Holmes Harbor Community will increase, but so will the taxes we pay to Island County.