Plan provides for new golf courses


Golfers seeking to end the headache of jammed Baltimore County public golf courses got some relief yesterday, when the County Council endorsed a plan designed to free money for new courses.

The plan would transfer three county-owned courses to the semipublic Baltimore County Revenue Authority, which could use its bond-selling capabilities to finance course construction.

The arrangement "will make for much better public golf courses in the county," said Council Chairman Vincent J. Gardina, a 5th District Democrat.

Providing adequate golfing facilities has presented county officials with a long-standing dilemma. The county needs more courses, but elected officials are reluctant to borrow millions for golf when new schools are an even greater need.

County officials want to build more courses quickly, without add

ing to the county's debt burden. The revenue authority, by taking over existing courses, could use $1.1 million in annual profits to help finance new construction.

The administration of County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III put together the plan but the council exacted a price before endorsing it.

Under the original proposal, only the authority and the county executive had approval power over future course development. But in a work session yesterday, council members made it clear that they wanted to be part of the approval process, too.

Ultimately, top administration officials said the council could have approval power. "As a practical point, the administration wouldn't force a new golf course over the objections of a council member anyway," said Michael Davis, a chief Ruppersberger aide.

"I'm glad the administration was willing to make that concession without a fight," said Mr. Gardina, who predicted the council would approve the proposed arrangement Monday.

Under the proposal, the county's three public courses -- Diamond Ridge in Woodlawn, Longview in Cockeysville and Rocky Point on Back River Neck peninsula -- would be leased to the authority for $1 each, for 99 years.

A $6 million expansion at Diamond Ridge -- called Diamond Ridge II -- also would be financed by the authority.

The authority, which operates four high-rise garages in Towson and metered lots around the county, is negotiating to buy the partially-built, private Greystone course in White Hall. The authority plans to use $4 million of its cash and borrow the rest to pay the $7.6 million needed to complete the course.

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