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City exploring privatizing Coral Oaks Golf Course

By Staff | May 25, 2011

Marianne Drahos has played the Coral Oaks Golf Course for more than 23 years and volunteered with Cape Coral Junior Golf Association for 21 years.
The prospect of playing the course under the guise of a privatized management team doesn’t sit well with Drahos, who thinks the affordability and access the course affords the citizens would be lost.
“My feeling is if they out-source to someone who wants to make money, in order to make money they are going to charge a lot more,” Drahos sad. “A lot of the people who have been playing the course won’t be able to play any more.”
Currently, off season rates are $25 for residents and $30 for non-residents before noon, with the rates decreasing as the day goes on, according to the course’s web page.
City spokeswoman Connie Barron said the city has yet to receive a proposal from its advertised request. The proposal was advertised on May 10 and is set to expire on June 7.
The course has 14 full-time and 30 contract employees, Barron said.
Barron added that it is much too soon to discuss the impacts privatization may have on those employees’ futures, as the city is simply in a discovery phase of what privatization would mean to the facility.
“There’s nothing written in stone to say this is going to be privatized,” Barron said. “We are seeing if there are options out from the private sector to run the course more efficiently and at less cost. We don’t know if we’ll get proposals that will meet those requirements.”
Barron also added that the city has not put out any requests for proposals regarding the privatization of Sun Splash Family Waterpark. She said City Manager Gary King is focusing only on Coral Oaks at the moment.
Councilmember Marty McClain said it is likely worth a look to see if privatizing the course would work in the city’s benefit, but that it is important to weigh the long-term risk with the short-term benefits.
McClain said he would be in support of privatizing the maintenance portion of the course, and that those employees could likely be moved to other areas of the Parks and Rec Department.
Yet, McClain suggests that the city already has a capable and efficient management staff in place at Coral Oaks.
“We have staff that are of the same caliber a private company would bring,” McClain added.
As a volunteer with the Cape Coral Junior Golf Association, Drahos said 250 kids get to experience the game each summer for only $20. They get six weeks of hands-on training and experience, and the program is driven largely by the efforts of volunteers and the city.
She said kids are able to try the game with little financial investment, and if a private company comes along to manage the course, she doesn’t think these kinds of community-oriented programs will continue.
She also said that as a taxpayer since 1987, her tax dollars will be wasted if a private company takes over.
“Our tax money has been going to pay off the debt on the course for all these years and now that debt is going to be paid off, we’re not going to be able to benefit from it,” Drahos said.