Management firm set to take over Shiloh Springs operations

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo The flag on the 11th green waves in the wind Monday, June 22 at Shiloh Springs Golf Club. A recent decision from the Platte County Commission approved a contract with Kemper Sports Management to run the facility, going into effect July 1. KemperSports Management takes charge of the program management of the county-owned Shiloh Springs Golf Course next week. During its June 15 regular meeting, the Platte County Commission unanimously approved a management and scope of services agreement with Kemper, which takes effect on Wednesday, July 1.

Platte County director of parks and recreation Brian Nowotny said these services include arranging tee times, managing the clubhouse, employee training and oversight and food and beverage service. The county will continue to handle facility and course maintenance.

The contract length is 3½ years with options to extend or terminate based upon performance and satisfaction.

This represented a major step in a long-simmering process. Shiloh Springs currently falls under the Platte County Parks and Recreation Department with funding coming from an occasionally controversial but twice-voter-approved one-half cent sales tax.

The golf course is set up as an enterprise fund, which means revenues are expected to cover expenses and potentially create a profit.

However, the golf course has operated at a deficit in recent years, and presiding commissioner Ron Schieber made this shortfall a priority when he took office to start 2015. Other areas of the parks and recreation budget that operate at a deficit do not full under this category, including other county-owned facilities.

Platte City resident Stu Ostrander had several questions about the Kemper contract and its impact on Shiloh Springs.

“I’ve never heard what the supposed benefits are to this contract,” he said during the meeting.

This enterprise fund designation has become a bone of contention between Shiloh supporters and those who believe the county should sell the course. At past meetings, Ostrander has suggested the county investigate options for reclassifying Shiloh Springs as a true part of the parks system instead of as an enterprise fund.

Nowotny said Kemper’s status as a nation-wide service provider would improve programming and customer service and provide more marketing.

As part of its original proposal, Kemper suggested implementation of a loyalty program, encourage tournament play and institute new player development and youth programs. Also in the offering are expanded food and beverage options, better pricing on pro shop merchandise due to national purchasing contracts and improved customer service training.

“So you’re hoping to move this from a losing prospect to a winning one, but if it fails to make a profit, what happens?” Ostrander asked.

Schieber said Kemper’s contract did include a pro forma outlining minimum income requirements to decrease the course’s county subsidy. Nowotny confirmed the course would continue to operate as an enterprise fund.

“We are moving toward profitability, and Kemper has shown it can turn properties around at other courses in Kansas City,” Schieber said.

The commissioners also approved an escrow agreement to allow for the early payoff of bonds from the purchase of the course. Nowotny said the bonds were scheduled for payoff in 2018 with an option for a lump sum payoff of approximately $1.3 million in 2015.

The bonds will be paid off at the end of the year using funds from the parks and recreation tax.

The commissioners also moved forward on a potential jail expansion project at the meeting.

Capt. Joseph King of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department asked for approval of an architectural contract between the county and Treanor Architects, which specializes in law enforcement projects. The Lee’s Summit police training facility and detention center expansion as well as a detention center in Olathe, Kan. are in Treanor’s recent portfolio.

King said Treanor will focus its efforts on the “futures” area beneath the current jail but will investigate other potential solutions as well.

Last year, a commission-appointed jail committee made up of citizens from across the county held a series of sometimes-contentious meetings to determine the need for a new jail facility. At the end of their process in August 2014, the committee found there was no immediate need for expansion but suggested should the need arise the county should target “futures” for renovation.

Despite these findings, Schieber authorized Platte County sheriff Mark Owen and his staff to immediately start the process of investigating an expansion focused on the “futures” area.