Golf course, restaurant left in the rough

Regarding the Riverbend golf course and restaurant pipe dreams:

The most rudimentary amount of research into the viability of golf courses in the last 10 years will reveal that public and private courses are closing at a rapid rate due to changes in demographics similar to what we see happening in retail store and mall closures.

• Courses were over-built during the ’90s following the popular hype but declining economic conditions have reduced the disposable income of a majority of the population.

• Younger people have many more options for athletic opportunities and have shifted away from the more expensive ones.

• From a Bloomberg article, in 2014 course closings exceeded openings with 157 closures and only 14 openings, and of the closings 151 were public courses, 97 percent.

• This is reality and no amount of living in the past or pouring another $6 million into it will magically reverse the trends that have nothing whatever to do with the course itself. It is the market.

I sincerely hope that the City Council was not so foolish as to make promises to the developer of the apartment complex that the city would improve the course for the benefit to the developer by “golf in your back yard” availability. The excuses given for the tax break to the developer were onerous enough, but if there is some sweet deal behind the curtains to spend $6 million to enhance the course as well as the developer’s property and rental rates, malfeasance is too mild a term.

• The recent articles on the fate of the restaurant at the course illuminate the failure of the City Council to come to terms with the reality of a business location that is guaranteed to fail. no matter how much glitter is spread on the business plan. Restaurant traffic has declined dramatically for the same reasons that retail and golf courses are failing … economics and more attractive options.

Restaurants were the hot deal 10 years ago when incomes were higher and the economy had not been crashed. But now we have a whole new demographic with fewer dollars to spend on going out to eat as well as the rise of enthusiasm for cooking at home, success of the Food Channel, etc., being prime indicators.

• The City Council continues to piddle funds away on things like the $1 million spent to renovate medians on Pacific Highway, instead of maintaining the roadways where it could do some good in reducing wear and tear on our vehicles and evasive driving around potholes a necessary skill.

• Pouring more time and money into Riverbend and the restaurant foolishness are economic potholes that need to be eliminated post haste.

– Paul Nickelson

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