Commission proceeds with Heartz Golf talks
Palatka city commissioners unanimously agreed to allow city staff to negotiate a deal with Heartz Golf LLC to operate the city-owned Palatka Golf Course and restaurant.
Heartz Golf, operated by current Palatka Golf Club general manager and director of golf Andy Heartz, was one of three companies that submitted a request for proposal and continued through the city’s process to select a new golf course operator.
According to a proposal to the city, Heartz is asking for a five-year lease for $1 per year.
The proposal suggests the city will receive 20 percent of gross revenue over $520,000, not including merchandise sale. The proposal suggests 10 percent of that money will go to the city, while the other 10 percent will fund the course.
Heartz Golf said it’ll be responsible for golf course maintenance, costs associated with leasing and maintaining carts, required insurance, water and electric expenses for the cart barn and maintenance shed, and provide annual financial statements and $5,000 in the pro shop and cart barn renovations during the first two years of the lease.
Heartz Golf asked the city to remove dead, dangerous trees, provide 12 inmate work days per year, maintain effluent pumps and pay electric bills, provide $2,500 to maintain and repair irrigation system used to dispose of effluent water and pay the reminder of the golf course maintenance equipment lease.
“The goal of Heartz Golf is (to) make Palatka Golf Club self-supporting in two years,” a letter to the city from Heartz Golf says. “Heartz Golf will eliminate over half of the city’s year loss at (the) golf course immediately and completely eliminate any cost to the city in two years.”
According to documents provided by the city, Heartz Golf plans to introduce the “Palatka Sportsman Membership,” a new, less expensive membership. It’ll cost $500 annually and include $17 rounds.
Additionally, Heartz Golf plans to develop a “Friend of Palatka Golf Club,” where patrons can purchase plaques for a minimum of $100. The third approach, according to Heartz Golf, will be emphasizing the Donald Ross Golf Trail.
The golf course has hemorrhaged money for years, according to city documents. City Finance Director Matt Reynolds revised the 2015-2016 projections and said the golf course is slated to lose $264,097 this year. That figure does not include the $168,984 debt service on the course, which the city must pay through 2023, according to Jonathan Griffith, who oversaw the golf course as the city’s projects manager.
The golf course has lost the city money 10 of the last 11 years.
Griffith told commissioners the city will have to negotiate a different agreement to operate the restaurant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funded renovations to the restaurant, requires the building be leased at “fair market rate,” Griffith said.
Griffith said Heartz Golf has potential restaurateurs it will bring forward during contract negotiations with the city.