LARGO -- The Largo City Commission left the door open to making a current contribution to a Pinellas County homeless program and supported plans to make the city's golf course more viable at its workshop meeting Tuesday evening.
City Manager Steve Stanton backed off his original position of not recommending an $11,000 contribution to the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless.
When sentiment on the commission indicated a desire to perhaps support the contribution, Stanton said that if the commission wanted to pursue it perhaps ways could be found to make the contribution.
PCCH, a non-profit, primarily volunteer group, is seeking money to pay an executive director. Pinellas County has made $65,000 available and another $32,500 is being sought from Largo, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, divided equally.
The examination of the golf course situation had a long work-up, going back to the beginning of the year when the city sought proposals for a market analysis of the course and its operations.
The course is one of three in Largo, but is the only one owned by the city. Pinecrest, on 8th Avenue Southwest, is basically a par-3 course. East Bay, off East Bay Drive, just east of the downtown area, is a par 72 course.
The city owned course is an 18-hole, par 62 course that was built in 1967.
Because the course has failed to be a money maker for the city, much agonizing has been done over what to do.
In the current planning, an outfit named Golf Strategies LLC of Safety Harbor was awarded the marketing study and submitted a 60-page or so detailed analysis from which Joan Byrne, the city's parks and recreation director, and Don Barron, the course manager, extracted major recommendations for the commission at Tuesday's meeting.
One suggestion in the analysis was to rename the course, which would gain nothing in terms of economic advantage, according to one observer, but would cost the city $9,500 in signage and logo costs.
One worthwhile recommendation is to have a PGA certified pro at the course. The beginning stages of this have been accomplished with the selection of a PGA professional apprentice who will implement tournaments, a junior golf program, lessons and golf repair.
Other ideas are to expand league play;implement a sales program, reaching out to hotels, service organizations, condominiums, etc.; upgrade landscaping; improve staff interaction with the public.
In looking for ways to improve the course's revenue, an automated phone system is planned to set up tee times at the convenience of golfers. The 24-hour telephone access is estimated to bring in an extra $13,000.
More than $1 million has been allocated in the city's capital improvements budget from 2005 to 2010 for golf course improvements.
The recommendations outlined by Byrne at Tuesday's meeting are supported by the top city management.
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