Baker City Manager Fred Warner’s proposal to transfer operation of the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course to the nonprofit corporation that runs Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, an idea endorsed by the City Council Tuesday, makes sense for both parties.
The 18-hole course is an important city asset, a recreation amenity for local residents and an attraction for visitors.
But Quail Ridge has in the past also drained significant amounts of money from the city’s general fund, which includes much more vital services such as police and fire protection. The city has reduced that general fund transfer — it’s $40,000 this fiscal year, compared with a total of about $150,000 in the early 2000s. Keeping the course in good shape and ensuring it’s well-run will reduce the risk of the course reverting to being a major monetary albatross.
Mike Brooks has done a good job running the course since he signed a four-year lease with the city that took effect Jan. 1, 2017. But Warner told councilors Tuesday that Brooks, though he will remain as the teaching professional at the course, doesn’t want to continue as the lease-holder.
Warner’s idea to transfer the lease to the Baker Community Development Corporation, the nonprofit that owns Anthony Lakes, The Trailhead in Baker City and runs several Forest Service campgrounds, is a logical choice.
The corporation has ample experience in running seasonal recreational businesses. And speaking of seasons, there’s little overlap in the operations of Quail Ridge, which typically opens in March, weather permitting, and Anthony Lakes, which closes in early April.
Although the provisions of the current lease will continue through 2020 — the contractor pays the city an annual management fee of $65,000, a monthly fee of about $5,100 to lease city-owned equipment, and is responsible for some equipment maintenance — the City Council should review the deal next year based on the experiences of the Baker Community Development Corporation, with the ultimate goal of eliminating general fund transfers to the golf course.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor