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Russell says other firms interested in The Patch

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Proposals from firms interested in taking over the Augusta Municipal Golf Course after its abrupt closure Wednesday are starting to pour in to the city administrator’s office.

“I’m getting phone calls left and right from people who want to run this golf course,” City Administrator Fred Russell said Friday.

Firms from Florida and Virginia, local individuals and groups have contacted the administrator, all interested in running the golf course, known as The Patch.

Russell said he expects city recreation workers, who ran the golf course from the 1990s until January, to have a role in managing the course for at least “a few weeks” until a new operator is found. He couldn’t say when the course would reopen.

The administrator said he also had fielded calls and visits from Patch players demanding their money back for annual memberships and from course employees owed back wages by The Patch in Augusta LLC.

One of them, 20-year-old David Harkins, who worked as assistant maintenance manager for The Patch in Augusta, hasn’t been paid in two weeks, according to his father, Robert Harkins, who blamed the city for the trouble.

“I’m just concerned that the city has left these people hanging out to dry because of politics,” Harkins said.

Employees and Patch members seeking compensation should put their requests in writing, Russell said.

After warning The Patch in Augusta last month for its failure to pay monthly rent since March, Augusta officially notified the Scottish firm Friday that it was in default – for failing to keep the course open to the public 364 days a year, not maintaining 50 golf cars on the premises and not maintaining insurance, Russell said.

Members and employees weren’t the only ones angered by the situation at The Patch. Several Augusta Commission members, notably Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and Joe Jackson, were infuriated by the city’s handling of three Augusta brothers ready to manage the course.

Headed by Dennis Kelly, The Golf Course at Augusta LLC said it began making improvements and investing resources at the course a week and a half ago, after Russell led them to believe that the city would agree to make about $62,000 in needed repairs, only to have Russell’s recommendation rejected during a closed-door commission meeting Tuesday.

“I basically told the gentleman I couldn’t consummate the deal,” Russell said. On Thursday both firms were gone, Red Douglas Clubhouse was locked up and Club Car hauled away 50 golf cars that The Patch in Augusta owner Brian Hendry had leased.

Discussion of the issue will continue Monday. Last Tuesday’s closed-door legal meeting was never adjourned because several commissioners were said to have stormed out during discussions. Those remaining – who weren’t enough for a quorum – did not consent to Russell’s recommendation.

Those present when the meeting ended Tuesday were Jerry Brigham, Corey Johnson, Alvin Mason, Bill Lockett and J.R. Hatney and Mayor Deke Copenhaver, said City Clerk Lena Bonner.

Russell said he didn’t know whether the commission would agree Monday to make the repairs, or whether the Kellys would come back if asked. Regardless, city recreation and procurement workers are assembling a new request for proposals in the event the commission decides to put the course back out for bids, he said.

What's next?

Augusta Municipal Golf Course could reopen soon, with city recreation workers managing it for “a few weeks” until a new operator is found, City Administrator Fred Russell said Friday.

Comments (13) Add comment
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Jake
32523
Points
Jake 09/07/12 - 07:47 pm
6
1
What a mess

I never thought Abbott & Costello could perform a funnier skit than their classic "Who's on First" routine. I think if they mimicked the commissioners during this fiasco then they could top it. Only it is not funny for the golfers, employees or the Kelly brothers. Why were the Kelly brothers torpedoed?

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 09/07/12 - 08:18 pm
9
0
Fire Fred Russell. He is the

Fire Fred Russell. He is the head of the snake.

dichotomy
32827
Points
dichotomy 09/07/12 - 08:24 pm
7
1
I hate the Kelly brothers got

I hate the Kelly brothers got caught up in this thing. But if they are from Augusta they should have known better than to "invest resources" based on anything Fred "Loosey Goosey" Russell told them until the bushwhacking, back shooting commissioners actually took a legal, public, witnessed, duly recorded vote. I wouldn't take the word of Russell or any of the commissioners for the value of a fart in a whirlwind.

slowpitch
119
Points
slowpitch 09/07/12 - 11:08 pm
3
4
sell the course

if there is truly massive interest in taking the lease over, logic would suggest that a few groups would even put together the financing to bid at auction and buy the course and land outright. Give ASU/GHSU right of first refusal to take it at the high auction bid.

WHY WOULD THE CITY DREAM OF KEEPING THIS MESS ON THEIR BOOKS?

Go on, take the money and run, whoo whoo

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 09/07/12 - 11:41 pm
6
0
There is interest

... from outside investors, you say? Is that the smell of scorched pants fabric I sense?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/08/12 - 04:58 am
7
0
Something Stinks Again

This whole thing stinks. Why would you let these Kelly brothers take it over, when you have not given others the opportunity to bid? Unless I am missing something, the city is leaving themselves open to a suit. Isn't that some kind of favortism or something?

Then you have a closed door meeting after the fact. So, what was brought up?

Can't the City just do things the right way, have their ducks in a row, without all this drama every time?

I could care less about this Patch. But, but I do care about where our tax dollars are spent, who our commissioners are trying to give it to, wanting to give it to, etc.

gargoyle
16906
Points
gargoyle 09/08/12 - 07:44 am
5
0
Why?

Could this mess be a case of drama for the sake of drama?
Can the leadership and City Administrator be that inept?
Shadowed figures with dubious intentions lurking about don’t miss the next Clueless in Augusta !!!
Filming the political posturing around here would be a cable channel comedy hit.

seenitB4
86932
Points
seenitB4 09/08/12 - 08:02 am
9
0
The Politics in Augusta

One step forward & 2 steps back..

seenitB4
86932
Points
seenitB4 09/08/12 - 08:04 am
8
0
Can't see

Some can't see a gift horse when it is chomping on their hand....

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/08/12 - 09:59 am
4
0
Another has said it better

I have added or changed 1 WORD in each quote:

There WE go again.

The government's view of the PATCH could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help AGAIN.'

To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the POLITICIANS, hoping he will eat you last.

Ronald Reagan

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/08/12 - 10:03 am
2
0
OH By The Way

Why was a GA Hwy Patrol Cruiser parked in front of The Patch Friday most of late morning to mid afternoon ?

Little Lamb
45869
Points
Little Lamb 09/08/12 - 11:04 am
5
0
Taking over

So Fred (What, me worry?) Russell is getting calls right and left from firms wanting to "take over" running the Patch. They had better get solid commitments in writing from the Mayor saying that the city (as landlord) will make all necessary repairs before and during the terms of the lease.

That's where Hendree got suckered. He had a gentleman's agreement that the city would do maintenance and capital improvements. The only trouble — he was not dealing with gentlemen.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/08/12 - 06:29 pm
1
0
An observation right or wrong, but noticed.

It seem every time a group leasing The Patch asks the Landlord (Gov) to spend the collected SPLOST for much needed capital repairs, the landlord (Gov) gives them the boot.

Is there "temporary" problem using The Patch SPLOST that was already collected?

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