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The million dollar options for Helensvale golf course as council tees off on its future

POSTED ON February 22, 2019 @ 12:15 pm

THE Helensvale Golf Club is costing ratepayers more than $300,000 as council maintains the course without an operator.

The latest Budget Review shows the Gold Coast’s only public-owned golf course is listed at the top of “emerging issues” for the city.

The cost of maintaining the grass and clubhouse and security patrols to stop vandalism was about $225,000, the report said.

Council has failed to find a suitable operator despite a second procurement process which the report reveals cost ratepayers about $100,000.

Helensvale’s golf course. Photo: Regi Varghese.

The Bulletin understands councillors as early as next month are likely to discuss the findings from consultants who explored the market for future operators.

Area councillor William Owen-Jones wrote on his Facebook page that the golf course continuing was not possible without “significant capital expenditure” or alternative land uses.

“Most of Helensvale drains into it, and around 70 per cent is subject to Q100 event flooding,” he wrote. “The land is not zoned for residential development.”

The council’s preference is to maintain the area as a golf course given the potential flooding and population pressures on the suburb.

Helensvale Golf Club Pty Ltd has had a history of financial difficulty with the council in 2013 deciding to buy the club’s freehold land to clear substantial debt.

Cr William Owen Jones at council. Photo: David Clark.

The lease was transferred to the non-for-profit Jigsaw Community Services Pty Ltd which ceased trading in March 2018, before being placed in voluntary liquidation.

The challenge for the council since has been to secure another operator, aware that maintenance costs involving the greens and clubhouse continue to increase.

In 2016, council officers considered some operating comparisons and determined a leased golf course would cost $1 million in capital costs and $50,000 to assist with tree removal.

Almost 600 members would benefit but there were concerns about the ageing clubhouse and need to redesign the course to make it more family friendly.

Converting the site to an Aussie rules field would cost $3 million, and operational costs including lights and mowing about $50,000.

A netball court would cost about $1 million. Cleaning and lighting operational costs would be about $15,000.

To convert the area to a park, it would cost $2 million for footpaths and amenities and $400,000 for ongoing maintenance.

GCB Discovery Park, Helensvale. showing part of the golf club grounds. Flood photo by Geoff Edwards.

If the golf course was left to be a “natural area”, the capital cost is $600,000 and the council faced $200,000 for maintenance.

However, both the park and “natural area” options had the potential to devalue the residential properties nearby, which was a “risk factor” for the council.

A council source said flooding remained a major issue, and during high tide and rain events the backflow from Coombabah Lake combined with the stormwater caused large sections of the course to be underwater for days which affected the golf revenue.

Source: GC Bulletin

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