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Council rejects senior memberships at golf course

The Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River. (File Photo)

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The Roswell City Council rejected a proposed resolution to add new membership rates for seniors at the Nancy Lopez Golf Course.

Councilors voted 8 to 1, with Councilor Angela Moore casting the only vote in favor of the measure. Prior to the final vote, Councilor Steve Henderson made a motion to table the matter that was seconded by Councilor Barry Foster. The motion to table failed 5 to 4 and following this, Mayor Dennis Kintigh asked for a role call vote. All councilors were present with the exception of Councilor Jeanine Corn Best.

Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services, said the General Services Committee voted 4 to 0 to approve the proposed resolution at its Oct. 24 meeting. Gilbert said the resolution would offer new memberships for seniors (singles and couples) with the option to golf on weekends and holidays, explaining the current memberships do not offer these options.

According to the meeting’s agenda, the memberships, tax included, would cost $475 for a single senior and $600 for a couple. In addition, Gilbert said the Parks and Recreation Commission was in favor — to attract seniors to the golf course with the membership. The commission voted in supprt with a vote of 5 to 0 at last month’s meeting.

Gilbert called the seniors “frequent flyers” saying they tend to play more than other adults. She said with the membership, the more they play, the more revenue would decrease to the city per round.

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Gilbert said many seniors currently do not play at the city’s golf course on weekends and holidays. She said they tend to play at the New Mexico Military Institute Golf Course or the Roswell Country Club. Gilbert also said the golf pro “feels strongly” the memberships would attract more golfers. She also said the NMMI golf course offers memberships with weekend and holiday options.

City Manager Joe Neeb said the city’s golf course currently offers five membership options: junior, non-resident, regular, single and social. Before the final vote — and after hearing councilors’ concerns — Neeb recommended the council table or reject the measure. He said this action would allow city staff to acquire more data on utilization of the golf course by seniors, and reexamine fees for the golf course (that have not been changed since 2015) before adding new membership options.

He said staff would review the material and “make sure appropriate decisions are made.”

Councilor Caleb Grant petitioned other councilors to not table the measure, and vote it down; he said the memberships were not in line with goals for the facility in the last three or four years. Near the beginning of the meeting, Grant asked Gilbert if the city was trying to increase play on weekends and holidays. The golf pro informed her there was plenty of room, Gilbert said. She said the golf pro, golfers and others shared with her that a number of seniors are currently interested in extending their membership to include holidays and weekends. They pay per play currently.

Grant said the proposed memberships would be “discounting primetime utilization of the golf course.” He said the proposed memberships disagreed with the city’s cost recovery plan — and the golf course should start serving liquor because, “it has become comical that we are not doing that yet.” Henderson agreed with Grant and said implementing the discounts associated with the proposed memberships would be “shooting ourself in the foot.”

“I would like to capture more of our senior golfers,” Foster said. “But if it is getting busy on the weekend, then I don’t see that this is something that we need to debate right now. So as it stands, I probably am against, because it seems like we keep hitting roadblocks at the golf course with changes that the council has advised and wanted to be made.”

After Henderson inquired whether fees might be raised, Gilbert said there has been some discussion about examining fees and there are no set guidelines for cost recovery at the golf course; she said higher cost recovery could be included in a plan, if the conversation continues.

Councilor Savino Sanchez asked for the golf pro to be present at next month’s meeting to help understand information behind the resolution, and Neeb assured this would happen. Henderson requested the number of rounds played be included in the councilors’ reports, to have a better understanding of the matter.

Councilor Jacob Roebuck also requested more data and information from the golf course and said the golf course plays an important role in attracting professionals to the city.

Councilor Judy Stubbs asked what a single senior would cost on the weekend for 18 holes, and Foster said that a senior would pay $19.25 for 18 holes and $13.95 for nine holes, according to the city’s website. Stubbs said the single membership at $475 would be a “heck of a cut” to the golf course revenue.

Foster also said a city council committee voted years ago to have a sliding scale at the golf course, but that was not implemented.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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