City Fairway Financially "Under Par"

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

More rounds. More revenue. That was the score Heritage Oaks was swinging for. But bad weather and a bad economy has made for bad business.

Ben Fordney, Treasurer of the group CHANGE which has fought the city's golf course for years, says, "It's really no great surprise that this golf course is in trouble financially. That was predicted from the start. And also it was always fiction that it wouldn't cost the tax payers any money because it has cost tax payers right from day one."

Fordney says he doesn't think Heritage Oaks will make this fiscal year's budget of $960,000. To date, the course has only generated $260,000.

But Golf Pro and Manager David Johns is optimistic it will be "up to par" financially by July.

"As we increase revenue and this golf course does make money that money is going to go back to the tax payers," he says.

Johns says the course's expenditures are less than expected and business will pick up greatly come spring. Summer drought followed by a lot of precipitation reduced play as much as 40 percent nationwide.

Johns cut back on staffing hours and advertising to make up for lost revenue. There's also a rainy day fund to help with Heritage Oaks' first year expenses.

The city's finance director says the course cost $4.8 million to build. But $6.4 million was borrowed in anticipation of slow business.

"Any business is going to struggle the first few years to make money. However, this golf course will make money. We just need to be patient with it," says Johns.

The CHANGE group wants the course to do well. Otherwise, it says city residents will have to pay for the project.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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