Munson Township Hopes to Buy — Then Close — Fowlers Mill Golf Course?

Northeast Ohio Golf

In what looks to be an extreme example of both government-waste and a suspect real estate deal, the Munson Township trustees are planning to purchase and then close the nationally-recognized Fowlers Mill Golf Course in Chesterland at the end of the 2011 golf season.

But how it’s being purchased — and how that purchase is being financed — is the most appalling part of the story.

Munson Township trustees, with almost no public disclosure, discussion or input, are about to pay $1.7 million more than what the current ownership group led by local resident and attorney Todd Peterson paid just 9 months ago. Peterson’s group paid $3.3M at the end of 2009; Munson Township trustees are hoping to use a $5 million “grant” from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to by the very same property by year’s end.

Trustees for tiny, tiny Munson Township say they want the property to build a new “township hall” on the 458 acre golf course site and turn the rest into a park. 13 acres would be kept by the township for their use, while the remaining 445 acres would be turned into walking trails, green space, and a “water cleanup site” as designated by the EPA grant.

The Lake County News Herald has further details in their story here.

There are four hard-to-believe issues with this deal:

1) Why is the Ohio EPA using tax dollars to purchase (at a significant premium!) a successful golf business that generates sales and income taxes for the local county, a business that is already nationally recognized as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for its nature preserves and maintenance practices?

2) Why does a tiny township the size of Munson need to buy real estate or build a town hall to hold its meetings or house its handful of employees?

3) Isn’t it suspicious that a local attorney/real estate investor purchases a golf course for $3.3M just before the start of 2010 and suddenly a small burg with free money from the EPA is willing to pay $5M for that same property just a few months later?

4) Fowlers Mill Golf Course is one of the top golf courses in Northeast Ohio, as it has a nationally recognized reputation because of the nature of the property, the events that have been held there, and the design by Pete Dye. Our region is filled with parks, trails and green space. So why would any government entity decide to take steps to destroy this golf course, the jobs that the course creates, and the viable tax-revenue-generating business that currently exists there?

Want to register your thoughts on this issue with the people making this absurd decision? You have three options:

– Trustees plan to discuss the issue during their August 10th meeting at 7 p.m. at the Township Hall, 12210 Auburn Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024;

– Call or write the Northeast Office of the Ohio EPA, 2110 East Aurora Road, Twinsburg, Ohio 44087 or telephone: (330) 963-1200 | fax: (330) 487-0769;

Call or write the Governor of the State of Ohio and register your displeasure with tax money being used for the inflated public purchase of a successful private venture, a purchase that makes absolutely no sense on any level.

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