Portland's Golf Courses

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Aresen
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Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Aresen » 23 May 2019, 20:49

Portland's City-Owned Golf Courses a Hot Mess of Deferred Maintenance, Ballooning Pension Costs, and Falling Revenue
Portland's network of city-owned golf courses was supposed to earn enough to pay for itself. Instead, it has required bailouts to survive.

"Intended to be self-supporting, the program required an infusion of $800,000 of taxpayer funds in 2017 to remain solvent," reads a report released today by the city's auditor. "While Parks has taken steps to cut costs and increase the number of golfers, it is fighting a national trend of a sport in decline and past ineffective program management."

The report detailed problems at the five city-owned golf courses (one of which is actually in the neighboring town of Beaverton). Like many government-owned pieces of infrastructure around the country, the courses suffer from deferred maintenance, poor oversight, and ballooning wage and benefit costs.
Several observations: 1) Why is the city in the business of subsidizing a sporting facility? (Though this is probably less egregious and costly than a mammoth stadium or arena.)
2) It appears that the local market is no longer capable of supporting five golf courses. (The story doesn't say if there are any private golf courses.) It would seem that shutting one or more would allow the others to better survive.
3) If 'greenspace' is one of the desired objectives, a golf course seems to be a very limited-use way of providing it. (I seem to recall that environmentalists hate golf courses because of all the water and fertilizer they use.)
4) Keeping the courses open takes up space that could be used for residential or industrial purposes.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by dead_elvis » 24 May 2019, 14:21

Just re-watched Drugstore Cowboy yesterday, so Portland's Golf Courses is a topic fresh on my mind.

"I don't play those public courses, greaseball. Mayfield is for pussies, that's why you have an 8 handicap"

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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Warren » 24 May 2019, 16:20

Aresen wrote:
23 May 2019, 20:49
3) If 'greenspace' is one of the desired objectives, a golf course seems to be a very limited-use way of providing it. (I seem to recall that environmentalists hate golf courses because of all the water and fertilizer they use.)
4) Keeping the courses open takes up space that could be used for residential or industrial purposes.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by lunchstealer » 24 May 2019, 17:32

Aresen wrote:
23 May 2019, 20:49
Portland's City-Owned Golf Courses a Hot Mess of Deferred Maintenance, Ballooning Pension Costs, and Falling Revenue
Portland's network of city-owned golf courses was supposed to earn enough to pay for itself. Instead, it has required bailouts to survive.

"Intended to be self-supporting, the program required an infusion of $800,000 of taxpayer funds in 2017 to remain solvent," reads a report released today by the city's auditor. "While Parks has taken steps to cut costs and increase the number of golfers, it is fighting a national trend of a sport in decline and past ineffective program management."

The report detailed problems at the five city-owned golf courses (one of which is actually in the neighboring town of Beaverton). Like many government-owned pieces of infrastructure around the country, the courses suffer from deferred maintenance, poor oversight, and ballooning wage and benefit costs.
Several observations: 1) Why is the city in the business of subsidizing a sporting facility? (Though this is probably less egregious and costly than a mammoth stadium or arena.)
2) It appears that the local market is no longer capable of supporting five golf courses. (The story doesn't say if there are any private golf courses.) It would seem that shutting one or more would allow the others to better survive.
3) If 'greenspace' is one of the desired objectives, a golf course seems to be a very limited-use way of providing it. (I seem to recall that environmentalists hate golf courses because of all the water and fertilizer they use.)
4) Keeping the courses open takes up space that could be used for residential or industrial purposes.
Eh, all cities have parks with sports/rec facilities. Soccer leagues, baseball, public pools, etc. It's not the libertarian ideal, but there are more evil ways to spend theftycash. The best way to deal use golf courses is as flood mitigation zones. And if you have to shut one down, you just got yourself a nice big greenspace park that can be allowed to go feral and put in some wildlife-friendly wetlands and hiking trails and such.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Warren » 24 May 2019, 20:08

lunchstealer wrote:
24 May 2019, 17:32
And if you have to shut one down, you just got yourself a nice big greenspace park that can be allowed to go feral and put in some wildlife-friendly wetlands and hiking trails and such.
You say that as if such things were desirable.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Highway » 24 May 2019, 20:57

I'd imagine just about every city of any size has a municipal golf course or four or seven. Baltimore has 5. And like everything that cities run, they are underfunded, maintenance deferred and "crumbling infrastructure". One reason is that people compare them to private clubs, or even privately owned clubs open to the public, and they just (usually) don't look as good, because they don't have all the effort put into them.

I would imagine that much like parks, they could be privately managed under contract pretty well, or at least significantly better than the government agencies that are tasked with maintaining and operating them, since it would turn into a revenue stream instead of a budgetary liability. But that doesn't get around the fact that golf is as dying a sport as they come. The average age of golfers who play regularly is rising faster than time, as younger players quit. Equipment companies have been chasing a smaller and smaller market with more and more expensive equipment, which can work for a while, since those older players tend to be more well-off, but isn't going to be a solid strategy for long term survival.

I sometimes think about taking up golf again. I found it fairly pleasant, although I am just utterly terrible at it (I think I scored a best round of 102 on 18 holes, but I get my money's worth!). But then I never do.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Eric the .5b » 24 May 2019, 21:03

lunchstealer wrote:
24 May 2019, 17:32
And if you have to shut one down, you just got yourself a nice big greenspace park that can be allowed to go feral and put in some wildlife-friendly wetlands and hiking trails and such.
AKA mosquito breeding habitats.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by Highway » 24 May 2019, 22:58

Eric the .5b wrote:
24 May 2019, 21:03
lunchstealer wrote:
24 May 2019, 17:32
And if you have to shut one down, you just got yourself a nice big greenspace park that can be allowed to go feral and put in some wildlife-friendly wetlands and hiking trails and such.
AKA mosquito breeding habitats.
As a stormwater designer, I always have to push back on this (and it comes up a lot in my line of work). In general, natural and natural-ish areas are not a net generator of mosquitos (outside of the natural area itself). This includes stormwater areas like wet swales, constructed wetlands, and bioretention areas. When it looks like a "swamp", then usually there are enough animals that eat mosquitos and larvae to keep the mosquito population balanced. Montgomery County, MD, had so many complaints about people thinking their stormwater management (SWM) facilities were generating mosquitos that they commissioned a study on it, which found the result I mentioned above. What they found was that many more mosquitos that are in people's yards are from sources like trash, tires, toys, and debris that holds a small amount of isolated water that is not disturbed or connected to the natural areas. The upturned frisbee generates a lot more mosquitos that bite people in their yards than the wetland or marsh behind the house.

The reality is that mosquitos are everywhere anyway, but the natural areas don't really result in more mosquitos.
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Re: Portland's Golf Courses

Post by lunchstealer » 25 May 2019, 13:02

Highway wrote:
24 May 2019, 22:58
Eric the .5b wrote:
24 May 2019, 21:03
lunchstealer wrote:
24 May 2019, 17:32
And if you have to shut one down, you just got yourself a nice big greenspace park that can be allowed to go feral and put in some wildlife-friendly wetlands and hiking trails and such.
AKA mosquito breeding habitats.
As a stormwater designer, I always have to push back on this (and it comes up a lot in my line of work). In general, natural and natural-ish areas are not a net generator of mosquitos (outside of the natural area itself). This includes stormwater areas like wet swales, constructed wetlands, and bioretention areas. When it looks like a "swamp", then usually there are enough animals that eat mosquitos and larvae to keep the mosquito population balanced. Montgomery County, MD, had so many complaints about people thinking their stormwater management (SWM) facilities were generating mosquitos that they commissioned a study on it, which found the result I mentioned above. What they found was that many more mosquitos that are in people's yards are from sources like trash, tires, toys, and debris that holds a small amount of isolated water that is not disturbed or connected to the natural areas. The upturned frisbee generates a lot more mosquitos that bite people in their yards than the wetland or marsh behind the house.

The reality is that mosquitos are everywhere anyway, but the natural areas don't really result in more mosquitos.
Also it's portland so letting them get some malaria now and then will add to their back-to-sustainability ethos.
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