Done deal: Columbia Hospitality gets approval to manage Gold Mountain

Bremerton mayor Patty Lent got her wish. Columbia Hospitality, which has zero experienced running a golf course, was awarded the contract to manage Gold Mountain Golf Club. They start a transitional period on Thursday and their 3-year contract will kick in on Jan. 1, 2013, when current director of golf Scott Alexander’s contract runs out. Once again, I’ve got nothing against the mayor or Columbia Hospitality. I’m against this because I think the city should have opened the process to other potential bidders.

In case you missed it, here was my last rant on the topic.

Someone told me that if current greens superintendent Ed Faulk wanted to sell an old mower, the city would require that Ed get three sealed bids.

Could another management company or a group interested in running Gold Mountain file an injunction against the city because it didn’t put the contract up for competitive bid?

Josh Farley covered Wednesday’s city council meeting. Here’s  his story:

By JOSH FARLEY
jfarley@kitsapsun.com
360-792-9227

BREMERTON — Bremerton city council members overcame concerns that a management company was too green to run Gold Mountain Golf Club Wednesday night, hiring a familiar face to do it.
The Bremerton city council voted 6-2 Wednesday night to retain Columbia Hospitality, a company that has run the Kitsap Conference Center for more than eight years, to manage the 36-hole golf complex. The company’s contract starts Thursday.
Under the terms of the deal, Columbia Hospitality gets five percent of all revenues generated at the club, which includes the golf courses, restaurant, driving range and pro shop. To provide additional financial incentive and help the city meet its debt burden on the property, the company also gets 20 percent of net income the complex generates over $600,000.
In 2011, net operating income was $409,000, according to city financial records.
Bremerton city councilwoman Leslie Daugs said she was at first reluctant to go with Columbia because they hadn’t managed a golf course before. But she said once she knew those currently running the course would be retained, she felt better about the deal. She also felt the city will be able to keep an eye on the complex under the new contract.
“We will know what’s going out and what’s coming in,” she said.
City councilmen Adam Brockus and Greg Wheeler voted no. All other city council members voted yes with the exception of Carol Arends, who was not at the meeting.
Brockus lamented that the city hadn’t put the contract out to a competitive bid. He said Columbia would have likely won the contract “fair and square” had it gone to bid. But he based his vote on the premise that the city should use a competitive process for such things.
“We should not make a habit of this,” he said.
Councilman Wheeler criticized the pick for the same reason, as well as Daugs’ concern that the company has not managed a golf course before.
City officials counter that the course’s overseers won’t change: Longtime golf pro Daryl Matheny will stay on even as fellow pro Scott Alexander retires; Greens Superintendent Ed Faulk, also a veteran of more than two decades at the course, will also be retained.
Lenny Zilz, vice president of operations for Columbia Hospitality, said at Wednesday night’s city council meeting that golf courses aren’t new for many employees at Columbia.  
“It’s a new experience for a company, but it’s not a new experience for individuals within that company,” he said.
Zilz used his own experience as an example: he’s been a general manager at resorts in California and Hawaii that included golf courses.
The company is hopeful it can fatten profits at the course, mainly in two ways: it can it can cross-staff with the downtown conference center and its  25 other properties where it has management contracts and it can put its marketing expertise to use to draw new clients. For example, the company has an email list of 80,000 it can market the golf courses and complex to.
Their success would be welcomed by the city, whose debt on the golf course will grow in coming years: $282,000 in debt service in 2013, peaking at $471,000 in 2018, where it will remain until it’s paid off in 2028.
The course is well regarded in the golf world; ranked by Golf.com as the fourth best municipal golf course in the state this year, it hosted the U.S. Boys Junior in 2011, as well as the U.S. Amateur Public Links Tournament in 2006.

4 thoughts on “Done deal: Columbia Hospitality gets approval to manage Gold Mountain

  1. I agree with you Chuck. I was at the council meeting last night as well as at the original study session weeks ago where the administration finally decided to reveal the situation to the council.

    This was blatant political manipulation on the part of the Mayor and the Administration to engineer this entire situation into exactly what they wanted in the first place. They have circumvented the process deliberately and denied the citizens of Bremerton their due process of open bidding and transparency. I am disgusted. This will be remembered and used in the next election where everyone’s seat is up for replacement.

  2. I would like to thank Councilman Greg Wheeler. He openly petitioned and pushed for the open bid process from the very beginning. He voted NO last night. Brockus also voted NO because of the lack of the open bidding process.

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