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Our turn: We need to save our par 3 | Gravender
Tom Brice and Gary Hallock's recent letters to the editor in the Kent Reporter have reminded the City Council of what they are giving up – namely this unique par 3 course situated at the Riverbend Golf Complex.
To refresh your memory, the proposal by the director of Kent Parks, Recreation & Community Services, Jeff Watling, and Pete Petersen, director of golf for the Riverbend's main 18-hole and par-3 courses, are collectively planning to relegate two or three holes for youngsters of the 1st Tee Program for practice, across the Green River, in the vacated parcel that formerly was a nursery. The plan is to take out the par 3 course for development with condos, retail stores or who knows what else.
According to them, the par 3 has been losing money during 2009-12. We think it's fair for both courses to reflect the dismal economy figures. While the par 3 revenue was down 30-35 percent over the period, the par 3 public records in 2009 reported 35,643 rounds of golf and took in $300,426. Then in 2010, $272,563 in revenue with 31,240 rounds; 2011, $245,198 in revenue with 29,475 rounds, and in 2012 a reported 28,393 rounds of golf with revenue of $233,773.
While no record for 2013 has been made available to the public, we believe the revenue surpassed the 2012 amount, most likely due to more resident awareness and participation.
However, during that same four-year period, the main 18-hole course was accumulating losses of more than a million dollars. Mr. Watling's two "fireside chat meetings" at the clubhouse stated that it was all because of the par 3's failure to pay its way and why the par 3 – the "stepchild" of the main course, in their minds – must be sold. In the meantime, none of the issues brought up by the Save the Par 3 Committee, has been addressed by the City Council or Parks.
The question is: what do you think of this situation as a council member or resident?
Two Save the Par 3 Committee members, Manuel Espinosa and R.C. Sample, had strongly suggested selling two parcels of land, one across the river and the other a couple blocks east of the driving range, thereby securing money to pay off the debt of $2.5 million tied up in the golf enterprise fund.
Unfortunately, not a word was heard again from the City Council or Mr. Watling.
Perhaps one could say that in light of the current situation the par 3 and driving range are the only two viable venues that could promise a profit in the near future.
Dick Gravender is president of the Senior Men's Golf League and a member of the Save the Par 3 Committee. For comments and questions about the committee, contact member Tom Brice at 253-859-3019.