Opinion: Huron Hills and the Miles of Golf proposal
We see three options for Huron Hills:
1. Continue it as an 18-hole course with a subsidy from the city.
2. A city-Miles of Golf partnership making Huron Hills into a different golf experience.
3. Re-make Huron Hills into a different park experience (not golf).
Let’s look at the future of Huron Hills from strictly a financial perspective. The city’s Parks and Recreation department seems to feel that option #3 is the most costly option because switching to a different, non-golf, use would require a larger subsidy than the subsidy of approximately $250,000 that Huron Hills Golf Course currently receives. We realize that there is not a consensus on the size of the subsidy and that arguments can be made that it will be greater or less than $250,000 in the future, but to think there will be no subsidy is not realistic.
The Miles proposal will pay the city approximately $1 million over the course of a 20-year agreement. This is over and above paying off the debt on re-development that Miles would need to operate at Huron Hills. The exact amount the city receives depends upon the interest rate the city pays to borrow the money.
Comparing proposals, there is a $6 million difference between the Miles proposal versus the city continuing to operate Huron Hills as an 18-hole golf course. Over the 20-year period, the Miles proposal pays the city $1 million; continuing to operate it as an 18-hole golf course costs the city $5 million.
There is some question why the Miles of Golf proposal has the city, and not Miles of Golf, investing $3 million into the re-development of Huron Hills. The reason the city needs to make the investment is that the city will own the land and own the buildings. Because of this, it is almost impossible for Miles to finance the project. Miles is investing $250,000 upfront and is paying off the city’s entire investment including the interest so at the end of the 20-year agreement, the city owns the buildings and improvements free of any debt. For Miles to fund the re-development would be like you going to a bank trying to get a mortgage on a new house when you won’t, in fact, own the house or the land it is on.
It is also pretty clear from our experience at Carpenter and Packard that combining the Huron Hills golf course (9 holes) with a practice facility, teaching academy, and pro-shop will be something just about every golfer in the community would use and enjoy.
The Miles proposal also leaves land available for other uses such as community gardens and certainly winter sports activities. There would be no high perimeter fencing, pole lighting, domes, or topography changes. Any buildings erected would ultimately be approved by the city. Huron Hills would look very similar to the way it looks today, and we think we can make it even more beautiful than it is.
If the city chooses to enter into a partnership with Miles of Golf to re-make Huron Hills into a new golf experience, it would be a spectacular new golf center and allow the city to redirect $6 million into the city’s parks, or fire department, or police department, or something else.
Miles of Golf is committed to being a good partner to the city, a good neighbor to people living around Huron Hills, and to offer a great facility for golfers in our community.
Chris Mile is president of Miles of Golf, which operates a golf shop, teaching academy and driving range in Pittsfield Township.