Saturday, January 11, 2003

Neumann's future as a golf course is in play

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIAMI TWP. - Hello, Neumann. Or is it goodbye?

With the future of Cincinnati's successful Neumann Golf Course being questioned by cash-strapped city officials, speculation began that the 27-hole course in Miami and Green townships would be sold - possibly to a residential developer.

CRC's two courses outside the city, Neumann and Glenview, generate half of the golf department's revenue.
With expansion to 27 holes, Neumann now juts into Green Township but is mostly in Miami Township, Hamilton County
What: Meeting of citizens concerned about the future of Neumann Golf Course
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Neumann, 7215 Bridgetown Road, Miami Township, Hamilton County
More info: Call 574-1320It's the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's busiest golf course, with about 80,000 rounds played per year, and for the past five years has been privately managed, currently by Casper Golf Inc.
No vote is scheduled, and two City Council members said Friday they would oppose any such plan, which would require council approval. There is a better chance it could be sold to a golf operator on the condition it remain as is.

Still, concern has prompted Neumann golf pro Bill Terasa and assistant pro Katharine Williams to call a meeting at the course at 3 p.m. Sunday. The public is invited.

"There is some stuff flying around about City Council proposals, but it's all speculation at this point," Ms. Williams said Friday. "People feel extremely strongly about this place and I expect to see this place crammed to the gills."

Neumann, the city's most profitable course, did surface in a list of assets City Council wanted to consider for privatization.

Two are the city-owned golf courses outside the city: Neumann and Glenview Golf Course on Springfield Pike and Sharon Road.

For the Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC), Neumann is a cash cow. At 80,000 rounds played annually, it's the busiest of the city's seven golf courses. It and Glenview generate 50 percent of the golf department's $6 million in revenue, helping to finance maintenance of the city's other five courses, all in the city limits.

"We are not going to sell that golf course," Councilman Jim Tarbell said Friday. "My philosophy is, you don't sell the ones that are premium, you sell the ones that have run their course, maybe, and put that money into something more productive."

John Cranley, the lone west-sider on council, grew up playing on Neumann. "My interest is keeping it as a golf course," he said, "but I'm open-minded to selling it to someone who will."

Asked for the likelihood Neumann might be sold to a residential developer, he responded, "Pretty slim."

Mr. Cranley was among five council members and Mayor Charlie Luken to submit a motion on Dec. 16 supporting managed competition, in which private companies operate - but don't necessarily own - city assets. Neumann already is operated by Casper Golf Inc.

CRC Director Jim Garges considers any type of sale to be penny-wise, pound-foolish.

"It'd be like P&G giving up Tide," he said Friday. "I would hope there's no significant support on council."

CRC averages 376,000 rounds played per year, with Neumann accounting for more than one-fifth of that, according to Mr. Garges.

CRC's golf department reported a net profit last year of about $600,000, due largely to Neumann.


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