By David F. Rooney
Why did the golf club lease project, which had once appeared so promising, fall through? That’s a question municipal officials are asking themselves this week.
The deal that was being negotiated with Calgary-based Citrus Capital died last Thursday after a 10-minute meeting between Citrus CEO Larry Shelley and Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Allan Chabot.
Mayor Mark McKee had led the talks for the last several months. He said the deal was worth between $2 million and $7 million and if it had gone through it would have left the golf course in the hands of a competent and forward-looking company. And it would have protected local taxpayers who might otherwise find themselves on the hook for the work that needs to be done on the course and its facilities. He said he left the final steps to the City’s lawyers and Chabot, who produced a memorandum with a list of 10 points that required further discussion and clarification.
After five minutes of social niceties, Chabot says he handed Shelley the memo. According to him, Shelley glanced at it and said: “This deal is dead.”
The meeting, which was also attended by Community Economic Development Director Alan Mason and Corporate Administration Director Dawn Levesque, lasted just 10 minutes, Chabot said.
“The idea was not to constrain or hamper the project,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “All of it was open for discussion.”
While Chabot was not willing to show me the document, which is going to be the subject of an in camera discussion by Council, he said its list of points included one calling for the need to determine fair Markey value for the 18-hole course.
“This is a very valuable community asset,” Chabot said. “If you don’t know its fair market value how do you determine its annual lease?”
He said the City also needed to know what would be done about the clubhouse, which is all that remains of the original racetrack, and other structures at the course.
It’s easy to imagine that perhaps you can settle a lot of things with a handshake and mutual assurances of good will, but that’s not the case in any kind of negotiation involving a government and public money.
The City also needed an agreement that would allow it to measure Citrus’ performance once it took over operation of the golf course for what everyone anticipated would be 30 year lease with a 25-year renewal period.
“This is a high priority community project,” Chabot said. “Nobody wanted to jeopardize it.”
For his part, Shelley told The Current that went to the meeting expecting to sign an agreement — not get handed a list requiring further discussion or negotiating.
He said he believed that the lease agreement between the City and Citrus would be completed by October 1. However, Chabot said that timetable was unlikely given the points that needed to be clarified first.
McKee said his main concern is that Revelstoke taxpayers would benefit from the deal.
Is this the whole story? And is it over and done with? Maybe, maybe not. What is certain, though is the fact that if Citrus has permanently backed away from the deal, then Council will likely ask municipal staff to issue a Request for Proposals. McKee said he has heard from a few other companies interested in taking over the course.
Please click here to read the original September 1 story about the failure of the City’s talks with Citrus Capital.