That Fancy Golf Course Will Help Southern Dallas Only if it Doesn't Act Like a Fancy Golf Course

Categories: Schutze

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So by now it begins to be obvious there are two ways to go on this city-owned private high-dollar golf course being proposed in a poor neighborhood. Not one and a half ways. Not three ways. Only two, and they point in opposite directions.

1) Help the 'hood. 2) Dig a moat.

The Reverend Gerald Britt, vice president of public policy at CitySquare, a nonprofit devoted to hunger, health and housing, has an op-ed essay in The Dallas Morning News this morning sort of defending the fancy private golf course the city wants to build in a desperately poor part of the city but also sort of challenging the city to do the decent thing.

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The Reverend Gerald Britt
By decent thing I mean Britt pushes the city to use the development of a ritzy private golf course on city-owned land at Interstate 45 and Loop 12 in southern Dallas as an opportunity and a launching pad for a concerted program of job training, housing and small business development. He says the golf course that the city wants to develop with AT&T and SMU could be a boon to the very poor area around it if the city takes specific active steps to make it a boon.

Britt calls for job-training, business development and housing, all tied to the golf course. And he's right: If even some of what he proposes got done, it would indicate that the golf course is not what I think it is -- the opposite.

Yeah. The opposite of all that. I think the site may have been chosen not for any connection with the surrounding area at all but for the opposite reason: The golf course site is cut off, separated and, shall we say, protected from its environs by a fairly vast buffer of undevelopable flood plain and territory that the city has deemed to be park land, although that will be the day.

It's not connected to its surroundings. It's cut off. Now let me get to another question, and please don't take it as unfriendly in any way. Just talking about real life.

When the City Council talked about this deal, somebody suggested it could cost as much as $150,000 to join. The city manager said no. It will be more than that. So just for grins, let's tick that number up to $200,000 per membership.

How many people interested in paying $200,000 to go play golf with each other do you know who would want to make their golf game a big opportunity for community involvement? This is no knock on golf, I promise. But do you think of golf as being way out there on the frontiers of diversity outreach? Have they let the Mormons in yet?

I do not think of golf that way. I do not especially want to pick a big fight with people who are willing to pay two hundred grand to go do what they want to do and be left the hell alone about it. Fine. Go for it.

I'm just saying that when I look at this deal, I see the exact opposite of what Gerald Britt is proposing. I see an exclusive preserve that you won't even be able to see from the road, with a couple of armed and uniformed can-we-help-you guys out by the gate.

So maybe I'm wrong. Way too negative, as per usual. No, Britt will be proved right, because those rich golfers are going to turn that club into one big liberal experiment. That would be great.

I'm just telling you to watch. See what happens. Because this deal goes one way or the other. You think I'm wrong? You say we can have our cake and eat it, too? We can have a ritzy private golf course and a mechanism for meaningful social change all in one? Hey, I'd love to be wrong, but I need some examples. Talk to me about the affordable housing, job training, community outreach and hunger programs at the Dallas Country Club. I'm all ears. Hey. Can women play there whenever they want to yet?

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21 comments
keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

Oh! I got it! You take "the hood" sailing at your exclusive invite only yacht club don't you? 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

There are basically three kinds of golf courses - public courses (not to be confused with publicly-owned courses), semi-private courses and private country clubs.  The U.S. averaged about 300 new courses a year for about 5 years in the middle of the last decade in anticipation of the Yuppies coming off the ski slopes and onto the fairways.  It didn't happen, plus they built the upscale courses too difficult to play and the hackers wouldn't play them - it took too long (more than 3 1/2 hours) and it ruined their tender psyches.  Plus, a lot of them were used to anchor residential developments and we all know what happened in 2007.  There were 19,000 courses in America however they've been going tits up by the thousands.  It's been a war zone and lenders have shied away.

Golf course operations are management and maintenance intensive   It costs a butt-load of money to run them and they are typically loss leaders.  And the private clubs have really been hurt bad by the recession.  Of course, the biggest expense is water, irrigation and PROPERTY TAXES - ask Lakewood.  And Country Club operations have really taken it on the chin since we've been bleeding rich people since the collapse. Frugality is all the craze right now.  

And DFW is flush with courses right now.  We're over-supplied versus demand (total number of rounds played).  VERY competitive on green fees.

So if this publicly-owned course doesn't sell out its memberships, it will immediately go semi-private (open to the daily-use public plus memberships), and because it doesn't have to pay hundred of thousands of dollars each year in property taxes, it will undercut the privately owned courses who do.  It's how the City of Dallas courses have been able to kill their competition.  Cheap green fees.  They don't have to pay those pesky taxes.  Plus the taxpayer gets to capitalize the upgrades (don't need no stinkin' banks like the other poor boy private courses do) Kinda like the Omni Hotel downtown.

Bottom line - just so long as this loser doesn't cost the taxpayer anything if it goes south, which it will.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Job development?

Sure. there'll be job development.

Caddies, waiters, cooks, landscapers, valets (both auto and clubroom), maybe even some car wash guys so the Benz is clean and shiny after the game. But don't count on anything else.

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

Schutze, what have you done to "help the hood?"

Maybe you've taken on a few interns from the neighborhood? You know to impart all your libtard wisdom to the downtrodden?

No? 

Oh I know! You leave your empty beer cans in a separate bag so the bums don't make a mess on trash day!

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The golf club can be gangbusters for South Dallas as an undeveloped asset for the city and be rewarding for the city's finances.  It won't do anything for the people in South Dallas.  That is a fact.  We do not have a mechanism for making poor people in place without skills somehow better off unless they own the land.  Never have, never will.  Some people currently there will ramp up, develop small businesses and do well as area improves.  The vast majority will simply move elsewhere as costs rise.  Maybe in days of yore you could have a gigantic auto complex move in, only require people to put a bolt on a passing frame and get middle class incomes.  Those days are as relevant now as the market impact of jousts.   

We need to stop clouding the analysis with supposed benefits to the people in immediate area.   This project, good or bad, is for the 1 million that live in the city.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Wait!  It's not like they are proposing to use taxpayer money to fund any of this!


Oh, yes it is?  Never mind.  Fight on...

Guesty
Guesty

@holmantx My understanding of the agreement was that the golf club would pay property taxes.  Can anyone clarify?  If not, that seems like a huge subsidy of the new course (unaccounted for in the numbers I've seen).     

BringItOn
BringItOn

@keepcensoringDO Notice how DO has no writers that are minorities. Plenty of them grew up in middle class homes in the burbs and even got college degrees....

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@keepcensoringDO Hey, Mr. Divershity. I make prodigious use of flagging your posts as "Spam." It improves the chances that you will be censored. So, how long have you been trolling Jim's alley? I sure hope you are careful enough to not post from your cubicle.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@MikeWestEast 

I don't disagree. But as a former auto worker, I balk at your characterization of assembly line work as something that can be done by the hard-core unemployed. It actually takes a lot of discipline and determination to show up on time for those jobs every day, learn to do them and stick with it, to say nothing of the grit it took to emigrate from Ireland or Alabama in the first place to get the job. Those have always been jobs for serious working people. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Guesty @holmantx I don't know.  You may be right however, that's what the City said about the Hotel when they sold it to the taxpayer (it was not a GO Bond - a general obligation of the city).  But when the bond issue was put together, that was not the case (kinda).  Property and occupancy taxes were paid into an account the Hotel has access to if (when) it can't make its bond payment (which doesn't start for a another year or two).  So yeah, the Hotel pays occupancy taxes (but not property taxes), and it is not a direct obligation of the city, but if it gets in trouble they have access to (all) city-collected occupancy and sales taxes.  But the city is not generally obligated (ha!).

Kinda like Planned Parenthood does not provide public money for abortions (ha!).

Bottom line - the city could not have sold the bond issue if the only asset the bond holders could foreclose on was the asset (the Hotel).

We won't know if the taxpayer is the insurer of last resort until the funding of it is made public.

But just like the public hotel downtown, if it doesn't increase the size of the pie, those room nights it racks up will have to come from all the other hotels downtown, and they have to pay not only massive property taxes, but a 15% occupancy tax add-on to every room they sell.  Just like the green fees the private courses have to do.


keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@BringItOn @keepcensoringDO DO could offer a scholarship for someone from South Dallas that wants to study journalism(I use that term loosely of course) or organize some writing workshops south of 30..

They will just stick to disingenuous sanctimony though. 

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@RobertStinson @keepcensoringDO Liberals always love to try and silence anyone they disagree with. When passive aggressive means don't work they typically move on to insults and threats of violence...

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX @JimSX I did not presume the workers would be lazy or lack determination. I do believe in the old factories, many of the jobs required minimal training. My uncle did it as a summer job while in college in the 60's, he definitely had no skills then and they made him a floater working lines in many areas for which he had no skills. As for determination, you better believe it takes determination to work a boring job day in, day out for 30 - 35 years for the sole benefit of supporting your family. I have rarely heard anyone claim that auto assembly work, at least before automation took hold in 80's and 90's, was uplifting. My uncle lasted the summer and said he could not have made another week.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

But tell me again what the golf course does for the city's finances.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX It depends if the course becomes a kernel around which better neighborhoods develop. I think because of the geographical constraints, you can get some secure high end neighborhoods developed in the vicinity. Other developers can then follow. It is probably not a middle income story of families in kids and schools. That will come later. I think the myth is that South Dallas just needs some kind of foundation or maybe castle on which we build until people that might go north would feel "safe" to invest. Then the economics, cheap land, transportation access, proximity to job will create a mini land rush.

I still remain with my original assessment that supporting the golf course is about long term displacement of the current residents. Poor people leave, less poor enter.

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