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Data will help steer future meetings about DeKalb golf courses, park district officials say

Data will help steer future meetings, park district officials say

DeKALB – DeKalb Park District Executive Director Amy Doll said there are no current plans to replace the recently vacated superintendent position that oversees golf operations, but as the golf season winds down for the winter, staff will include the public on future golf discussions.

“At least in the short term in these next few months, there’s no a plan to fill Scott’s position,” Doll said Friday. “We’ve taken his different responsibilities and spread that out throughout the staff.”

Scott deOliveira, former superintendent of marketing and golf operations, left the agency in September to pursue employment elsewhere. Staffing is only one of the many facets of the district’s golf arm that needs restructuring, according to a report by Chicago-based golf consulting firm Billy Casper Golf. The agency contracted with the district in June for $17,500, with up to $2,500 additional funds allotted for travel expenses.

The 102-page report compiled by the firm was posted to the district’s website Friday, the day after a tense and standing-room-only Board of Commissioners meeting saw many in the public oppose potential golf course closures. No vote was taken or decision made Thursday.

Revenue at River Heights, 1020 Sharon Drive, and Buena Vista, the district’s nine-hole course at 131 Buena Vista Drive, has been in steady decline, and after adding in maintenance costs, the Park District is losing money on golf operations, with a $65,000 deficit projected for fiscal 2020.

The report recommended the following: restructure pricing, rates and staffing models at both courses; close River Heights and transfer any usable equipment and staff to Buena Vista; or close Buena Vista, which the report showed would improve River Heights.

Board President Phil Young said that in the coming months, the district plans to continue its five year strategic plan projections by holding community input Q&A sessions on the golf courses.

“I think it would be hard-pressed for our agency to come up with a finalized decision of that magnitude before the end of the calendar year,” Young said. “That’s my view as one commissioner.”

Young also addressed the concern brought up by several community members Thursday that the Billy Casper report was not made public sooner than Friday or before the board meeting. According to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, government agencies must publish meeting agendas 48 hours in advance of a meeting. The agenda was published, but no supporting materials were included for public view until Friday.

“A lot of the stuff that’s in the board packet is in draft format, and some of the stuff doesn’t even come to us until the last day because of changes,” Young said. “We have felt for a long time we did not want to put up packets that have incorrect data.”

He said the Billy Casper report was ready in advance, however.

“That probably could have been posted ahead of time,” Young said.

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