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Golf course clubhouse could cost nearly $5 million


Prince Frederick, MD - Over a decade after it was purchased for approximately $3 million, Chesapeake Hills Golf Course in Lusby is in need of a much costlier capital project. The course is owned by Calvert County and operated by the county government’s Department of Parks and Recreation. During the Tuesday, Feb. 5 meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners, course General Manager Michael L. Mahar stated that due to extensive damage caused by three ruptured water pipes, which then flooded the interior, the facility’s current clubhouse is unusable. Not having a functioning clubhouse at the course has resulted in a significant loss—35.5 percent—in revenue. The course’s staff is currently conducting day-to-day operations out of a trailer.

“There’s a large amount of community support for a new clubhouse,” Mahar affirmed.
A renovation of the course’s clubhouse had been planned during fiscal year (FY) 2011. However, in FY 2014 the renovation project was deleted from the capital improvements plan (CIP) due to funding constraints.

“In 2016, a request was made to again address the deteriorating condition of the clubhouse,” stated Department of Parks and Recreation Special Facilities Division Chief Kristen Zimmerman in a memo to the commissioners. “At the time, the on-call architects felt that the clubhouse had deteriorated to a point where it was no longer in a condition to renovate. In October of 2017, staff presented a conceptual golf course clubhouse to the BOCC. In late 2017, the BOCC deferred the project for one more year to address in FY 2020. On Jan. 7, 2018, a winter storm with very low temperatures caused overhead water pipes to fail in three locations at the clubhouse. The clubhouse has not been in use since that time. At this time, this capital improvement project has been deferred. Demolition and design is expected in year one at an estimated $495,000. Construction would be expected in the next fiscal year at an approximate cost of $4,255,000 which includes furniture, fixtures, and equipment. Operating costs of the facility are expected to increase by 3 percent to 5 percent. Revenues are expected to increase, however analysis has not yet been completed to accurately project potential revenues after project completion.”

Mahar stated the top priorities for a new clubhouse would be a bar/grill/restaurant, a pro shop and meeting/banquet space. The golf course, which opened in 1968 as a privately owned facility, could then increase its revenue by hosting tournaments and serving as a venue for wedding receptions and other social events. Mahar said having that component would drive the golf course towards attainment of self-sufficiency. In 2017, which proved to be an antediluvian year for Chesapeake Hills, the course was within $100,000 of the break-even mark.

With the closure of Twin Shields Golf Course in Dunkirk earlier this decade, Chesapeake Hills is Calvert's only 18-hole golf course. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Nazzal noted all four of Calvert County's public high schools use the facility for their golf teams.

Commissioner Earl “Buddy” Hance [R-At large] said he wanted to see “more justification” for the prediction of event bookings to bring the facility to the self-sufficiency goal.

Commissioner Mike Hart [R-District 1] recalled the days when Chesapeake Hills was considered a top-notch facility. He commended the current course staff for being “frugal.”

“We’d get more support [for the project] if we could get that [cost estimate] number down,” said Commissioners’ Vice President Kelly McConkey [R-District 3].

Commissioners’ President Thomas “Tim” Hutchins [R-District 2] asked about the demolition costs. Mahar explained staff is working with the Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department to do training at the existing clubhouse, which would subsequently be set ablaze. Hutchins indicated that would likely save on demolition costs. The board president labeled the existing clubhouse “an eyesore.”

County government staff will make a CIP presentation at the board’s next meeting—Tuesday, Feb. 12—and further discussion on the proposed project is likely to take place at that time.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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