City accepting lease bids on golf course

Published 10:42 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Councilman Robert Barclay IV on Wednesday asked for a full explanation of the lease of Sleepy Hole Golf Course, for the benefit of the public, before the public hearing set for June 3.

Confusion among the public about what is happening with the Obici House, which sits on the golf course, caused Barclay to ask for a detailed staff report before the public hearing is opened.

The city began the process in 2007 of seeking lessees or buyers for the golf course, located in North Suffolk. A request for qualifications was issued, seeking plans for leases or purchases, and four respondents advanced to the next level. Last year, a request for proposals was issued, and Ronnie Rountree – a planning commissioner and construction company owner – responded.

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In the interim, however, City Council decided that it wished to enter into a lease agreement, rather than sell the property, Barclay said. Therefore, the city gave notice Wednesday that it would receive bids for minimum 20-year leases in the purchasing department through noon on June 2, and that the mayor also will receive bids during the regularly scheduled meeting on June 3.

“After the receiving and opening of bids, the Council, after consideration of the bids, will make a determination of which, if any, of the bids to accept, at which time the City Council may hold a public hearing to adopt an Ordinance granting such lease to the selected bidder,” says the notice. It also makes clear that the Obici House and nearby Carriage House are no longer part of the bid process.

The invitation for bids says that the city wants a 11,300-square-feet, two-story clubhouse, a 9,100-square-feet cart/storage facility, and a 12,200-square-feet maintenance facility. It also states that the minimum annual lease payment will be $350,000, beginning July 1, 2009 and going through June 30, 2029.

Some council members said Wednesday that they would like to explore possibilities in the private sector to restore the house, which has been vacant and deteriorating for years.

“We should do all we can to find some means to restore this,” Councilman Charles Brown said, after Barclay requested clarifications for the public before the June 3 hearing.

Barclay’s request included a full briefing on the history of Obici House, how Suffolk came to own it and the golf course, restrictions on their use and the full process that brought the city to the June 3 public hearing.

“I’d like to have all that clarified for the benefit of the public,” Barclay said, adding that he also would like city staff to research options to have the house renovated.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said after Wednesday’s meeting that she is waiting to see what happens at the June 3 meeting.

“We need to wait and see what comes about,” she said.