Sale of Lycoming County’s White Deer Golf Complex ground to a halt recently with the uncovering of decades-old regulations due to federal funds given to the land.
Federal money used to assist with the purchase of the property during the 1980s was given on the condition the land be kept for recreational use, according to recent findings from county officials.
This means that the land can’t be used for anything other than for what the money was originally approved. The commissioners announced in September, 2019, they would be putting up the complex’s par-3 course for sale – the goal being to spark an economic growth corridor through the area.
For years, the county has actively been moving forward with plans to provide water and sewer utilities to that land in an effort to make it viable for homes or businesses in the future.
The county commissioners were visibly frustrated during their Thursday meeting as they informed the public of the set back.
“We invested in the land,” said Commissioner Tony Mussare. “That was supposed to be a growth corridor.”
The realization is made all the more troubling because the commissioners say there seems to be no record of the federal regulations in the property’s deed.
“It wasn’t memorialized. It wasn’t on the deed,” Mussare said. “We can’t even find the paperwork right now.”
Commissioner Scott Metzger was quick to assure the public that the sale of the property was not off the table, adding that a number of solutions are being considered.
“It’s another obstacle in the way. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop,” Metzger said. “Just another hoop we have to jump through.”
One possible solution would be for the county to purchase another piece of land with the same amount of money granted by the government, as a type of in-kind conversion, according to Commissioner Rick Mirabito. The new land would then fulfill what the federal government intended for the original piece of land, he said.
It’s another setback in a long journey for the golf course since it was purchased in the 1980s and then managed by the county’s recreation authority. After falling into disarray and building up substantial debt, the county took back control and hired Billy Casper Golf as a management company to raise the value of the entire complex and bring it out of debt.
The commissioner’s announced last month that the golf course made a profit in 2019 – the first year to do that since well before Bill Casper was hired.
The intended sale of par 3, one of the lesser-used pars at the course – would provide more funds for the course so it could continue to pay down its debt from a 2012 recreational bond.
In a similar issue, Mussare also announced that federal funds were used to purchase the Executive Plaza, where the majority of county government is housed. It’s unclear what regulations may be associated with those funds and if they would have an effect on the county’s plans to sell this property as well.
The commissioners announced in August, 2019, they would be looking to sell the building.
Now maybe they can put the Par 3 back to where it was instead of letting it go into disrepair to save money. When you don’t have enough people working it’s easy to save money too but it’s at the expense of those who play there. A golf tournament with over 200 golfers and you have one person working the bar and the restaurant at the same time. How much money did they lose last year on people coming over and going out to play without paying and taking carts without paying because they won’t hire Rangers or Starters to check.
C’s continue to state WDGG making profit for the first time in years. Not true. From the early 2000s, through mid 2010s, using the current financial structure, WDGC was making a profiit from operations every year. Back then WDGC was doing 60,0000+ to 70,000+ rounds a year, compared to 40,000+ now. Naive to think, profit is better now doing 20,000+ less rounds a year. Difference was, back then, WDGC had an annual bond payment of $350,000+ on the books. That’s where all the profit went. Now county has the annual bond payment on their books so it doesn’t show up as a WDGC expense anymore. Now Casper takes over Bucknell Golf Course, 16 miles down the road. Numerous WDGC members have already left for Bucknell, now that they are putting in a restaurant/bar, and more will follow. You would think that a non-competeitive clause would have been put in so this wouldn’t happen, whoops. Let’s compare true financial picture using apples to apples, instead of constantly making untrue statements.
You people take away enough from the community.Why try to take away a recreational area.Where actual hard working people and retiree’s go to enjoy their selves. The golf course has actually attracted a lot of the youth also.You see a very large amount of young golfer’s now.Stop taking away from the community.And stop thinking about how you all can line your pockets.And think about the people.Cry about crime.Yet destroy all recreational facility’s or areas.For our youth to go to be off the street’s.