If the $7 million golf course in Orem is going to finish in the green, it's going to have to be open on Sundays, says one of the councilmen who voted for the project last December.
If the council decides to prohibit Sunday golfing, members need to be prepared to subsidize the proposed 18-hole course, said David Palfreyman, a councilman and a banker.But in interviews conducted last week, other council members expressed different views.
Councilman Mike Thompson said the golf course should be private and the decision of whether to open on Sundays should not be made by the city. But, Thompson said, if city does retain ownership, the course should not be open on Sundays.
"I don't think everything in life should be financial," said Thompson. "We have certain standards in this community, and we ought to abide by them. Are we afraid to listen to the people? They don't want this."
The golf course area is being mapped and designed as part of 200 city-owned acres in the southwest area of the community so that construction of ball fields and soccer fields can proceed without endangering the future construction of the 18-hole course.
The council is currently being asked to decide if it wishes to issue $7 million in revenue bonds to pay for construction of the course, which has been touted as something that will be self-supporting.
"From the very start of things, we made a conscious decision that for the course to be a profitable course, it needed to be open seven days a week," Palfreyman said. "All of the analysis is based on that assumption."
Judy Bell, who also sits on the council and opposes the golf course being open on Sundays, agrees that it could be financially foolish to open a course that is only open six days a week.
"It's going to be a hard decision for the council," she said, "because it's a much bigger decision that just the golf course. It affects what we do throughout the city. I mean, do we then open the Rec Center and the pool on Sunday too?"
Bell is not convinced that figures returned by THK Associates, a consulting firm hired by the city to do a feasibility study in 1993, are convincing enough to override her personal concerns about taking on the golf course situation.
THK Associates representative Peter Elzi told the council a $3.5 million golf course built in the community would return at least $600,000 a year, enough to pay what the debt service would be on revenue bonds put out to pay for its construction.
Elzi also emphasized that to do so, the course would need to be open for Sunday golfing.
"I do believe that's one of the factors, and I need to see the numbers," Bell said. "If we own it, we own it and all that goes with it."
Palfreyman said he thinks it's wrong for the city to look at providing a recreational opportunity for the community and then close it based on religious beliefs.
"I have friends whose Sabbath is on Saturday. Do we close it on Saturdays for them?"
Palfreyman said keeping the golf course open on Sundays doesn't mean anyone has to play on Sunday. "In my opinion, people have the right to make a decision. It isn't my job to decide for them," he said.
"Rarely do you have the opportunity to make a decision that works for so much of the community," he added, pointing out that the golf course provides recreation but also preserves green space and creates beauty in a previously swampy area.
"This is only an issue for those who want to legislate morality. I was not elected to legislate morality but to make wise decisions," Palfreyman said.
If the golf course is shut down on Sunday, what about the sports complex? "Families will be there on Sunday, will we kick them out?" he asked. "If we're going to do that, then let's call Governor Leavitt and get Utah Lake closed down, too."
The council is discussing whether to issue revenue bonds for the golf course as part of its budget discussions for the 1998-99 fiscal year that begins July 1.
A public hearing on the budget and the golf-course funding is set for 6:30 p.m. May 26.