Golf course’s fate in doubt

WARREN – The manager of the Old Avalon Golf course says his company, OAG LLC, will no longer operate the course due to a disagreement about $100,000 in needed improvements.

City officials are saying that OAG LLC will, as of Feb. 1, owe the city $320,000 and is no longer operating the course, 9794 E. Market St., because it has breached its contract. The city has not received a payment for the lease of the golf course since October 2009.

“We are going to make every effort to reopen the golf course this season,” Mayor Doug Franklin said on Thursday.

John Kouvas, whose OAG LLC has operated the public course since May 15, 2006, says the city was notified last year about an estimated $100,000 worth of capital improvements that needed to be done before the beginning of the upcoming golf season.

“The city advised it did not intend to pay for the needed improvements to reopen the course and it intended to terminate the agreement to manage the course,” Kouvas said. “In light of the city’s decision, as manager of the course, we had no alternative but to suspend the operation of the golf course and withdraw our equipment from the city’s property.

“OAG LLC is not able to finance improvements to the city’s golf course,” he said.

When Kouvas took over as manager of the course, he signed a contract that was scheduled to end on Jan. 31, 2014. Part of the contract required that he pay $55,000 a year to lease the property.

Since the contract was signed, the city has been paid $275,000. The last payment of $10,000 was made in October 2009, according to records.

Warren Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said Kouvas was required to do basic maintenance of the course and make improvements of up to $300,000 without any contributions from the city.

“He claimed more than $1 million of improvements were made on the property,” Cantalamessa said.

However, the city says the improvements claimed were basic maintenance, including trimming and cutting down trees.

“We do not believe he has done $300,000 worth of substantial improvements on the property,” Cantalamessa said. “We are not adverse to working out a solution to what is owed. Discussions are ongoing to settle the debt.”

The city is exploring different options for the course, from actively looking to hire a new manager so it can be open by the beginning at the 2013 golf season, to examining the possibility of operating the course itself or selling the property.

“We are going to make every effort to reopen the golf course this season,” Cantalamessa said. “We are trying to stop the bleeding.”