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On Shiloh sale: ‘The
ball is in their court’

County negotiating with golf course buyer

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Negotiations over the potential sale of the county-owned golf course are more than a month old, with no specific timetable set for a conclusion.

That was the word this week from Ron Schieber, presiding county commissioner.

Schieber commented the county has made its position on matters known to the potential buyers and “now the ball is in their court,” Schieber told The Landmark on Tuesday.

Shiloh Springs Golf Club, located just east of Platte City off of Bethel Road just north of Hwy. 92, has long created a strain on county tax revenues. Financial reports indicate the golf course suffered an operational loss of $247,000 in 2016, with a loss total at more than $366,000 when depreciation is factored in.

On Nov. 21 the county commission voted 2-1 to enter into contract negotiations to potentially sell the county-owned golf course to GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness, an outfit that specializes in the concept of combining fitness centers with golf courses.

The 2-1 vote came with Schieber, and Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, voting in favor.

John Elliott, second district commissioner, said he voted no due to the fact he would prefer a local bidder be selected.

The county has indicated it would like to transfer ownership of the property prior to Nov. 30, 2019, to be timed near the sunset of the current county half cent sales tax for parks.

The current county commission has indicated a desire to lower the parks sales tax in the future and has been looking for ways to reduce long term maintenance and liability costs covered by the park tax.

Two proposals had been received by the county in response to the commission’s decision to put the sale of the golf course out to bid. Bidders were GreatLIFE, a regional company, and Gary Martin of Platte City, a local developer who was involved with the formation of the course with the then-county commission in the mid-1990s.
“I’ve said all along I would prefer local ownership. I wish there had been more local proposals. We had one local proposal and my vote is an indication of my preference for local ownership,” Elliott remarked in November.

Elliott emphasized he is not against the idea of selling the course.

“I continue to support getting the golf course off the county’s books,” he said.

“For the course to be what the public wants it to be, it needs to be out of the county’s hands because we are not going to spend the money on it like a private owner may,” Elliott remarked.

In an interview with The Landmark in November, bidder Gary Martin was asked if he felt he had put forth a competitive proposal.

“I didn’t really bid it that way. I was doing it for the community. I wasn’t looking at it as a money maker,” Martin responded.

“I just hope that the golf course stays open to the public. That’s our concern. It’s an asset that I wish more people would understand. It adds a quality of life for everybody.”

He added:
“ I hope it is well maintained and I hope that they (GreatLIFE) do a good job. It’s a long way from being negotiated out. If they can’t come to terms then they (the county commission) could come back to me at some point,” Martin said. “I’m not holding my breath. If they don’t work something out the possibility is still there.”

The county has not released details of the two proposals received, citing a desire to protect the county’s negotiating position, Schieber said recently.

Once a contract is signed, all of the original proposals must legally become public information, Jean Maneke, a Sunshine Law specialist for the Missouri Press Association, told The Landmark.

The county indicated in its call for proposals to require that the property remain a golf course for five years. The county also has stated a desire to require the new owner to continue to work with the Platte County R-3 School District to offer usage of the course to the school district teams.

According to the GreatLIFE website: “At GreatLIFE KC, we believe that healthy lifestyles support healthy families and enrich lives. We believe that if we can impact your life by helping you establish healthier habits, you will pass those habits on to your children, who will pass them on to their children. In the end, that makes your family healthier and happier and makes the world a much better place to live.”