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New Minnesott Town Board Revisits Golf Club Purchase
Golf course purchase back in play
January 16, 2020

A
t Tuesday night’s Minnesott Beach Town Board Meeting, purchase of the 50-year-old, member-owned Minnesott Beach Golf and Country Club – a 150 acre property with pool, golf course, club house and other buildings – was back on the table.

Newly elected commissioners Kenny Campen and David Gaskins now comprise a Town Board amenable to purchasing the property and leasing it back to the current club.

Minnesott Beach Mayor Tim Fowler explains the parameters for the town to reconsider purchasing the 150 acre Minnesott Beach Golf and Country Club.

This is nearly the same proposal rejected by a previous board on August 13, 2019. In that proposal, the town would buy the club for $270,000, and lease it back to the club for $1 a year, for the next six years. Approximately 100 residents turned up for the August meeting, with 21 individuals asking to speak. Of those, 17 spoke in favor of the purchase, several citing maintaining current property values of homes surrounding the course.

At that meeting, Commissioner Adam Garfinkel made a motion to purchase the golf course, but recused himself from voting. Remaining Commissioners Cliff Braly, Pete Hall, and Starr Murphy did not vote for the motion.

In the next election cycle, Commissioner Cliff Braly was re-elected, Pete Hall ran for re-election, but did not have the votes, and Starr Murphy ran for Mayor, but lost to incumbent Tim Fowler.

At the most recent meeting on Tuesday, January 14, Mayor Fowler explained to the board and the 10 members of the attending public that the town’s attorney had determined the town can not purchase the property and subsequently lease it to anyone for below fair market lease value. It was unclear if the lease value was based on the actual purchase price of the property or on the market value regardless of purchase price.

MBGCC president Ed Kujat reveals that the club has four offers from different bidders seeking to purchase the club property. He says that the club is still hopeful an arrangement can be made for the town to acquire the land and buildings, and lease back the property at an affordable price.

In anticipation of the purchase, the town researched the cost for a title search; a preliminary to acquiring the land. “We have a contract ready to sign with a firm in North Carolina that conducts these appraisals for a fee of $5,900,” said Mayor Fowler. “But we will not authorize spending that money for an appraisal unless we are assured the town is actually in the ball park of a purchase/lease agreement suitable for the golf club.”

According to Minnesott Beach Golf and Country Club (MBGCC) president Ed Kujat, four private entities have expressed interest in purchasing the property and maintaining it as a golf facility for the immediate future.

Kujat told the board, “After the original rejection by the last town board, our members voted overwhelmingly to try to sell the club with a priority of finding someone that wanted to continue to operate the golf course. Since we already had four interested parties we went out in a letter on 6 December asking those groups to get back to us with a final offer.

“We anticipate knowing the offers these four entities will make possibly as early as Wednesday, January 15. The Club’s Board will then review the offers on the table along with the option of selling the club’s property to the Town with a leaseback agreement and make a recommendation to the club membership on which alternative they recommend, or that the club go ahead and list the property with a commercial realtor. The club may decide that any one of these purchase offers would provide a greater chance for long term sustainment of the club’s operations than a leaseback agreement with the Town.”

Commissioner Cliff Braley looks on as Commissioner Adam Garfinkel makes a pitch to MBGCC club president Ed Kujat for the club to underwrite the appraisal fees.

Kujat added, “We will notify the town immediately which direction we select to go in. We don’t want the Town to spend $5,900 to complete this analysis and then have it turn out that it is not used. If none of the offers have the potential of being a much better deal for the club than the town’s proposal, we will suggest going forward with the analysis and we will wait to hear at what price the town can legitimately lease the property back to the club.”

Mayor Fowler told the board they could call an emergency meeting with a 48 hour notice and act to authorize the $5,900 appraisal. To expedite the process, Commissioner Adam Garfinkel asked Kujat if the club could underwrite the $5,900 appraisal fee. Kujat said the club was not in a position to spend that amount for an appraisal that might not lead to a purchase.

Town Manager Carolyn Braly looks on as newly elected Minnesott Beach Commissioners Kenny Campen, left, and David Gaskins listen to Mayor Tim Fowler explain the town’s options for acquiring the golf course. Both commissioners support spending $5,900 for a property appraisal for the purchase and lease, but only if the town’s offer is under serious consideration by club membership.

He also emphasized that if the club decided to move forward with the Town’s offer and the fair market value analysis of a lease comes in too high, it would likely not be practical for the club in move in that direction. Kujat added that the best destiny for the club and the entire community would be for the town to purchase the property.

Commissioner Gaskin made a motion to table the matter until MBGCC membership decides to either proceed with the Town’s offer and appriasal or go with a bid offered by an outside party. Commissioner Campen seconded, and the issue has been tabled. Kujat said the club will have a membership meeting prior to the end of January to act on the options available.

Related Information

Minnesott Beach Votes No on Acquiring Golf Course
Letters to the Editor: Minnesott Beach & Its Future

Posted Thursday January 16, 2020 by Ben Casey


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