HOWLAND - Nearly a year-and-a-half after a financial disagreement between the management company then operating the Old Avalon Golf Course and the city became public and closed the course, it will reopen next month under new management.
A lawsuit filed by OAG LLC and a counterclaim by the city also will move forward next month in the courtroom of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew Logan.
The golf course, now under the management of Avalon South Management Co. LLC, which is owned by Petrozzi Accounting, is expected to open the first nine holes around May 7. The remaining nine holes will open in early June as part of a grand opening.
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
Grass is cut Monday on the Old Avalon Golf Course in preparation for opening the first nine holes in about two weeks.
Larry Petrozzi of Lisbon owns the accounting firm, and Bob Zehentbauer is the operating partner. Zehentbauer has been the owner / operator of the Eagle Pass Golf Course in Hanoverton for 17 years.
They have been preparing to reopen since an agreement was reached with the city in October. City Director of Service and Safety Enzo Cantalamessa said the late reopening was caused by a combination of reasons.
"There was no equipment left on the property for the new owner to work with," Cantalamessa said. "They had to either purchase or lease equipment for the golf course."
Another factor was the long and cold winter.
"There were times in which the operator and his crews could not work on the course because of the weather," Cantalamessa said.
Work on the course could be affected this week because rain is forecast through Thursday.
The initial contract between Petrozzi and the city will be five years, with a five-year renewable option.
"We are still putting the final touches on the final framework of the agreement," Cantalamessa said. "There is consideration being giving to the outlay of capital that any investor would have had to put into for the outlay of equipment and capital.
"There will be competitive prices at the golf course," Cantalamessa said. "They are hoping to attract the leagues back to the course."
Under the terms of the contract, the management company is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the course. Any large capital improvement costing more than $2,500 must be discussed with city officials before agreements are signed and money spent.
The management company is required to pay the city no less than $34,154.04 in the first year of the agreement, which is the amount of property taxes expected to be paid on the property. The amount is to be paid in 12 payments of $2,846.16, beginning June 1.
That amount is expected to increase by $6,000 in each of the following years.
The management company signed an unconditional personal management guaranty, which was not signed under the previous contract.
The agreement with the golf course's former operator, OAG LLC, was canceled over a disagreement with the city regarding rental payments. At the time, the city said the management company owed it $320,000 in back rental payments.
A lawsuit filed in May 2013 by OAG LLC, which is owned by John Kouvas, alleges the city was notified in 2012 there was an estimated $100,000 worth repairs and upgrades needed.
He claims that when he agreed to manage the golf course in 2006, his firm committed to invest $300,000 of its own money into capital improvement in the first 30 months of operations. OAG invested $784,000 worth of investments into the golf course, the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, OAG attempted to work with city in development of a plan to settle financial disagreements and move forward.
"If the city had funded the $100,000 necessary capital improvements and had not wrongfully terminated the OAG agreement, it is highly likely that course operations during the 2013 golf season would have finally resulted in a profit to OAG,'' wrote attorney Matthew J. Kucharson, representing Kouvas.
The city, in a counterclaim, said OAG LLC owes it $765,000.
If a settlement is not reached, a jury trial is set to begin June 9.