Originally created 11/29/03

Workers on course intend to save land



The Columbia County public golf course that crews will start clearing land for Monday will be as environmentally friendly as possible, according to the developers.

The par-72, 18-hole championship course will be constructed with minimal earthwork and ecologically sensitive construction. Maintenance practices will ensure that the course is playable and complements the surrounding area, said Turner Simkins, the vice president of Blanchard & Calhoun Real Estate Co.

The Bartram Trail Golf Club, to be on Columbia Road next to Patriots Park, is designed within a conservation-oriented, master-planned community to be developed by Euchee Creek Investors Inc., under the guidance of Blanchard & Calhoun.

Just over a year ago, the Columbia County Commission approved the creation of a nonprofit corporation, Bartram Trail CDC Inc., for the purpose of developing and operating the high-end daily fee golf course.

Bartram Trail CDC has since been pursuing bond financing for the project with the assistance of Public Finance Consultants, of Harrisburg, Pa., which recently obtained contingent approval for a 90 percent loan guarantee through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Loan Guarantee Program.

Because of the project's location in central Columbia County and the long-term economic growth potential created by the project, it qualified for the USDA program, which is intended to create economic opportunities and community improvement in qualified areas throughout the country.

With the USDA guarantee, the golf course and related amenities have been funded through a loan underwritten by Dolphin & Bradbury, of Philadelphia.

Dolphin & Bradbury's financing covers golf course construction and provides operating and debt service reserves for operations. The debt will be repaid only out of golf course revenues; Columbia County has no obligation to make payments.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.