25 MAY 11: Boats, Bucks and Bogies
It's the unofficial first day of summer in Columbus -- as the city's four public swimming pools open for the season. If you go, keep in mind the city budget is very tight. Any water splashed onto the deck might be collected, for sprinkling the fairways at public golf courses.
The latest Columbus city budget hearing occurred Tuesday, with several departments at risk of losing all sorts of funding. The director of municipal golf courses presented a business plan - but the bottom line still reminded critics too much of those classic words from Caddyshack: "It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
John Milam told WRBL under his business plan, Bull Creek Golf Course could become self-sustaining. That seems logical, since "Golf Digest" magazine has named Bull Creek one of the top 25 public courses in the country. Who knows how many tourists are coming to Columbus, simply to shoot the Bull?
But John Milam noted even with a business plan, a city subsidy would remain necessary for the nine-hole course at Oxbow Creek. Somehow this doesn't make sense - with a smaller golf course costing the city a lot more money.
John Milam estimates $200,000 in city money will be needed to keep Oxbow Creek Golf Course open. For you "Figure Filberts" (in the classic words of Georgia Tech sportscaster Al Ciraldo), this comes to about 70 dollars a yard based on the long course. That beats about 540 dollars a yard for the most logical alternative....
Why should it cost this much money to operate a nine-hole golf course? Could it be that golfers simply aren't heading down South Lumpkin Road to Oxbow Creek? It's far better for Fort Benning veterans to let out their emotions there, than inside the National Infantry Museum.
On the other hand, maybe golfers are afraid of Oxbow Creek Golf Course because it's located next to Oxbow Meadows and all those wild animals. I think there's a way to combine the two facilities, and make things more entertaining. Build a mini-golf course with live creatures such as alligators on the greens.
Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson's proposed budget would end a city subsidy of nearly $620,000 for the municipal golf courses. But she said Tuesday the $300,000 subsidy being proposed by some Columbus Councilors is "much more appropriate." Well, OK -- but I'm not sure reaching the green in four strokes is better than reaching in two.
(Hopefully the golf course business plan doesn't get too creative - with the club pros challenging customers to wager on every hole.)
Meanwhile, the managers of Port Columbus are organizing a Saturday rally to oppose any cuts in the city subsidy. The Civil War naval museum has a tool in this fight that the golf course pros don't. The staff can turn around those old cannons, and aim them toward the Government Center.
The mayor's proposed budget notes Port Columbus has more than 20,000 visitors each year. But Executive Director Bruce Smith says without a $78,000 city subsidy, the museum would have to close by the end of the year. Before you jump to conclusions - I have yet to hear fellow "doomsday prophet" Harold Camping make the same appeal for money.
Maybe Bruce Smith needs to contact another local museum and compare budgets. The Columbus Museum receives no city subsidy at all (at least not in the proposed budget) - and as they say, "it's always free." Port Columbus charges at least five dollars to enter. So the north is free while the south is.... naaah, I shouldn't go there....
Hmmmm - what do Oxbow Creek and Port Columbus have in common? They're both located on the south side of town. What we may have here is a question about whether Columbus Council should spend city money on keystones of Columbus South revitalization -- even though they were around long before the new Victory Drive hotels.
Tight museum budgets extend far beyond Columbus, of course. GPB reported Tuesday the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon will close in June after 15 years. All the items will be placed in storage in Athens - coming out only if R.E.M. stages a reunion tour.
But has there ever been a spring when the proposed Columbus city budget brought such a widespread uproar? I mean, from groups other than public safety officers - who still are trying to recover their voices, after Jim Wetherington left the mayor's office?
There's good news for some budgets, in the rest of the Tuesday headlines:
+ The Georgia Gas Prices website showed Fort Benning has the lowest price for regular unleaded in the state, at $3.42 a gallon. The price dropped six to eight cents Tuesday near the Columbus Civic Center, to a low of $3.51. So who sent oil companies phony e-mails claiming President Obama canceled Memorial Day?
+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer someone walked out of Advance Auto Parts near Columbus Park Crossing, stealing $455 worth of antifreeze. C'mon, guy - simply leave the box of burgers on the kitchen counter to thaw, and they'll be fine this weekend.
+ WTVM reported a federal grand jury indicted Tracey Pearson on 19 counts of stealing money from the accounts of SunTrust Bank customers. One older woman admitted she became suspicious when Pearson "started being dressed nicer and nicer." And since all the new thrift stores hadn't opened yet, that may have given Pearson away.
+ The Georgia AAA high school baseball finals were postponed from Saturday to Monday. Columbus High will wait because Saturday is graduation day for the opponents at Spalding High. What's going on here? Any good dictionary will show you baseball comes before commencement.
+ Instant Message to Richard Hyatt: I had a sneak peek at today's Ledger-Enquirer column. Thanks for reading this blog. Thanks for the extra traffic you'll undoubtedly send my way. But please adjust your spell-checker on my last name - you're better than that.
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