Commission votes to raise golf course fees

Kevin Wilson

A week after buying the Chaparral Country Club on a unanimous vote, the Clovis City Commission hit a few rough patches in follow-up action.

A pair of agenda items at the Thursday commission meeting yielded approval, but not without consternation from both residents in the audience and commissioners at their table.

The commission paid $2.81 million for the 18-hole golf course, country club, pro shop and restaurant. It intends to take over management of the course May 1.

When it does, the liquor license the course holds will dissolve, as it is nontransferable. An agenda item was added to allow for application for a governmental liquor license, similar to the one at the Clovis Civic Center, to replace it.

Commissioner Randy Crowder, echoed later by restaurant owners in the audience, spoke against the action, which would require $244 in application and fingerprinting fees and a wait of 120 to 150 days.

“I don’t understand the absolute necessity of why we have to have one at Colonial Park,” Crowder said. “It’s an unfair advantage to the other local businesses.”

Other commissioners, and Mayor Gayla Brumfield, said they didn’t feel it was government interference because they were replacing one liquor license with another.

“There’s a government license at the civic center,” Commissioner Fred Van Soelen said. “I don’t think it’s put anybody out of business.”

Gary Kelley, the owner of Kelley’s Bar and Grill, begged to differ. He said he pays more than $100,000 a year in taxes, and he doesn’t like to see that money used to help lower startup and liability costs for a competitor — and that’s how he views the events center.

“A lot of us don’t do Christmas parties anymore,” Kelley said. “They go to your civic center.”

Brumfield said that having the civic center helps bring in more events, which means a larger customer base overall for Kelley’s and other establishments.

Robin Howe, manager of Clovis’ Chili’s location, reiterated the points on liability. He said if somebody was to leave the course intoxicated and get into a crash, a lawsuit could be filed because the person alleges they were overserved, and the city would be a defendant because its name is on the license.

The measure passed on a 6-2 vote, with Crowder and Juan Garza — a restaurant owner who echoed Crowder’s and Kelley’s concerns — voting no.

The fees at the new city course would also go up from current costs at the nine-hole municipal course.

Fees would be $8 for nine holes on a weekday and $10 on a weekend (up from $6 and $9, respectively), $13 for 18 holes on a weekday and $17 on a weekend (up from $8 and $12), with junior costs of $5 for weekdays and $10 for weekends.

Yearly passes would increase from $350 to $799 for a yearly adult pass, $300 to $350 for a senior yearly pass, $425 to $1,199 for an adult family yearly pass (for up to 10 family members) and $375 to $500 for a two-person senior yearly fee.

Added were summer single packages for $450 and $699 for a family from April 1-Sept. 30, and a $120 punch card for 20 nine-hole rounds on weekdays.

The original proposal was $600 for the two-person senior yearly fee. Commissioner Bobby Sandoval objected to the disproportionate increases for seniors, because many are on fixed incomes and, “It’s probably the only recreation they get.”

Cart rental fees would increase 50 cents per nine holes, to $8 for nine holes and $16 for 18 holes.

Crowder said he contacted numerous golfers, and, “to a person,” they told him the fee increases were reasonable compared to other 18-hole courses.

The measure passed 5-2, with Garza and Fidel Madrid voting no (Mayor Pro Tem Len Vohs left the meeting before the agenda item). Both said they felt it was unfair to increase prices after taxpayers already bought the course, and fees went up for other city services.

As part of its master parks plan, the city will shutter the current municipal course and convert it into open park space and community facilities.

Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said there’s no set date for the course’s closure.

Also at the meeting:

• The membership of the Keep Clovis Beautiful Committee was reduced from 13 members to eight. The group had approved no business since April of 2010, Legislative and Community Development Director Claire Burroughes said, because there were never enough members in attendance to create a quorum.

The 13-member format puts the mayor as chair, along with three city commissioners, two residents from all four city districts and an at-large resident to represent the county. The new format is still chaired by the mayor, but now includes just three commissioners and four at-large residents.

Commissioner Randy Crowder was the dissenting vote in the 7-1 count, because he believed it was unfair to burden Brumfield or future mayors with chair responsibilities.

• The commission approved the disbursement of Lodger’s Tax Funds. Remaining monies will go towards the Cycle City Monster Truck event ($2,500), Pioneer Days Rodeo ($5,000), Joe’s Boot Shop Double Muggin’ ($2,500) and Pioneer Days ($1,500). Items in the 2011-12 budget include the Cycle City Arena Cross ($2,500), Ethnic Fair ($3,000), Shattering Silence ($8,000), Clovis High Plains Speedway events ($7,500), the Curry County Fair ($10,000) and the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce ($56,500 in itemized expenses).

• A request was approved for the Clovis National Guard to use the Clovis Wellness Center for a water survival training class, with an accompanying waiver of $247.56 in fees.

• A letter of support for Eastern Plains Housing Development Corporation application to Housing and Urban Development for an elderly housing project was approved on a 7-1 vote. Crowder voted no because he said the more he reads about affordable housing projects, the more concern he has about governments getting involved in them.

• A grazing rights contract at Ned Houk Park was renewed. Nick Pipkin will pay the city $8,000.

• Three street closures were approved — 11:50 a.m.-1:10 p.m. May 5 between Seventh and Eighth streets for National Day of Prayer, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. July 30 on Upsilon between Grand and Potter Pool for Rock’N the Park and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. May 14 on Pine Street from Prince to Oak streets for a family reunion.