HISID closes Clubhouse restaurant and approves vending machines

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

In a very heavy agenda Monday night, the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District (HISID) Board of Commissioners resolved a long-standing issue: it voted to close the Clubhouse restaurant and to purchase a sandwich vending machine.

The Clubhouse restaurant has been, as District Manager Kevin Crosson put it, an "albatross" around the district's neck for years.

A long line of lessees has not been able to keep it open and financially viable. In addition, the district has lost money every month in the restaurant's operation and sunk considerable sums into its renovation in an attempt to make it viable.

After a long discussion in its quarterly evening meeting, HISID commissioners first voted to close the restaurant before considering other options. In its Request for Proposals, HISID had received only one response, that of the prior lessee, Georgetta Dollar.

Crosson noted Dollar owes the district $2,967 in rent from last year. In addition, commissioners learned at the March 15 work session that Dollar was not able to meet the terms set by the district for the new lease.

Commissioners voted not to accept Dollar's proposal due to "non-performance of previous contract."

Crosson told commissioners that expanding a snack operation in the Pro Shop area and offering sandwiches would necessitate remodeling to fit health code standards requiring a sink and floor drain. He said renovations could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

Commissioners debated a long time over various options. Selling beer downstairs would require a change in the liquor permit, restricting sales to six-packs.

Audience members and some commissioners noted few golfers use the restaurant, even with the liquor permit. Many bring their own sandwiches and beer.

The district learned it could purchase a sandwich vending machine for $3,000, stocked by a vendor for a contract amount. The district would set the price on sandwiches and recover some profit.

Chairman Boyce Williams was the lone voice of dissent against the vending machine idea.

"I think we have an obligation to offer some sort of limited food service," he said, arguing it could be done in the restaurant "with the right people." Crosson pointed out the district would need to hire one full-time and one to two part-time employees.

He recommended the vending machine option and said the board could reevaluate it after the season. He also recommended the district retain its beer permit for future possible need.

"It's easier to keep it than give it up and try to get it back again," he said.

The board voted to try the vending machine operation, Williams dissenting.

The board also approved the purchase of a new pumper truck for the fire department. Although Fire Chief Jack Deaton was not present to make his case yet again in this issue that has been ongoing since January, he sent a memo outlining the cost of a new pumper vs. a used one, and two financing scenarios.

A used truck with some added equipment would have cost $142,000. The new truck will cost $157,000 and give an extra year of warranty. Other equipment to be added will be funded by state 833 money and the fire auxiliary.

A loan amount of $134,000 will be taken out against the district's own money at 2 percent. Since the district makes 3 percent on its money, it will gain 1 percent in interest, Crosson noted.

The board approved the purchase, Williams abstaining.

The board was not able to come to clarity after a lengthy discussion about the fairness of the proposed amendment to Reg. 26, the golf cart fee, so a second reading has been postponed until the April meeting.

In other business, HISID:

  • Approved five additional non-Monday golf tournaments, all on Fridays, four in the morning and one in the afternoon. The tournaments will bring in an additional $12,000.

  • Accepted Commissioner Bill Branum's offer to head up the marketing plan ad-hoc committee.

  • Reviewed the First Pass of the Multi-Year Golf Course Improvement Program, as presented by Golf Superintendent Mark Mowrey. The first step is to identify projects that need to be done and get input from the men's and women's golf associations and others.

    The district will hold its next work session April 19 and its voting meeting April 26, both at 9 a.m. at the district office. Commissioners will also begin annual district operations orientations April 19 following the work session.

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