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Archive for Friday, December 4, 1992

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?

December 4, 1992

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What goes on?

Golf course operators from Pratt recently indicated they wanted to build a privately owned public golf course in Lawrence. They stressed it was going to be a private venture and there would be no cost or exposure to the city. These spokespeople said "at this point, it (the course and related facilities) would be total private ownership. It would cost the city nothing. We would not need any city funds in any way." All they wanted was the city's "blessing and support."

Now, only a few days after this announcement, spokespeople for the project suggest they are looking into ways the city or county could own the golf course.

This isn't what they said when they announced the plans for a golf course. Apparently, there has been a change in plans, or maybe this was the scheme from the beginning. Maybe city or county ownership is what the Pratt developers term "blessing and support." Or perhaps developers think they have to appease members of the Lawrence Municipal Golf Course Committee, who want a "municipal course" with "affordable fees."

Whatever the plan, the public was misled at the outset when the Pratt developers said they planned to build a course with private funds and that it would be built at no cost to the city or county. A course owned by the city or county carries with it a sizable risk for the city, the county and the taxpayers.

City and county residents need to know far more about the projected plan before city or county officials agree to any cozy and perhaps costly relationship to provide a "municipal course" with "affordable fees."

If there is such a need for additional golf course facilities, if there is such a demand, then it would seem reasonable that the marketplace could support a privately owned operation, not a city- or county-owned facility.

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