Old Avalon sale on agenda

WARREN – Discussions will begin this week about the possible sale of the Old Avalon Golf Course.

“I think the golf course is becoming a burden,” City Councilman Dan Sferra, D-at large, said.”The only time it has made money in recent years has been when we sold the mineral rights.

He is introducing legislation to sell the closed course.

“The previous manager of the golf course did not pay rent,” Sferra said. “I think the city should go after any money that is owed to it.”

If the city is successful in selling the course, Sferra believes any money earned should be used for the demolition of abandoned properties and housing development.

The councilman believes the time may be right to sell the golf course because the interest in golfing in this area does not appear to be as high as it once had been, and there are several public courses where people can golf.

Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa recently said the city has been talking to numerous people about taking over operation of the course.

The city announced in January the golf course’s manager, John Kouvas, whose company OAG LLC operated the public course since May 15, 2006, would no longer do so. The two sides disagreed on who should be responsible for several renovations and whether money from the rental agreement could be used to offset money spent by OAG to maintain the course.

Kouvas said city officials were notified last year about an estimated $100,000 worth of capital improvements needed before this season. Cantalamessa said at least some of the money for the improvements should have come out of a $300,000 maintenance agreement in which the operator is required to make those repairs.

City officials claim Kouvas owes it up to $320,000 in back rent for the course that dates back to 2006.

According to Mayor Doug Franklin the city has not lost money on the golf course over the last six years, but because Kouvas did not pay his rent for several years, it has not earned profits during most of the contract years.

Cantalamessa has said the city is exploring all options as to what to do about the golf course, including a possible sale.

“This legislation is saying the property is no longer required for municipal purposes and is giving me the authority to sell it,” Cantalamessa said.

A title search of the property did not indicate there were any deed restrictions placed on the property when it was given to the city.

The safety service director said there is a lot of work required to get the course prepared for the season, including repairing or replacing two pumps, two bridges, and upgrades to the clubhouse.

A new operator would have to purchase lawn mowers, lawn chemicals, golf carts and other tools needed for the operation of the course. Kouvas took all of his equipment.