Economies of Scale

6 AM New Year’s Day the Woodstock Fire Protection District took over the manning of the Lakewood Fire Department.

Although the phrase “economies of scale” was not mentioned, there was talk of saving the money needed to pay a fire chief under the new arrangement.

Only time will tell whether trading the private enterprise model with non-union and on-call firemen for full-timers who are union members with attendant pension costs will be cost-beneficial.

But since re-organization of Lakewood village services has been put on the village board table as a money-saving idea, let me pass on a suggestion made by Lakewood resident Marty Walter.

Club house at the Red Tail Golf Course.

There is no doubt that the Lakewood village golf course, Red Tail Golf Club, is in financial trouble.

Village President Erin Smith suggested that the cause was the lack of a good club house.

With that background, Walter suggests that Lakewood cut a deal with the new owners of the Turnberry Country Club to use its club house.

He suggests that managing two 36-hole golf courses that are close together can’t be that much harder than managing one 18-hole golf course.

If one can save the money by not having a fire chief in both Woodstock and Lakewood, maybe there are management savings in the golf course business as well.

Could a route be found so that people could drive their golf carts from one course to the other if they wanted to play 36 holes in one day?

I don’t know the neighborhoods, but it would seem that might be possible. After all, people drive golf carts on the roads in Sun City. State law allows a municipality to make that possible.

Turnberry Country Club House

Could a deal be cut on club house revenue? Maybe it could be based on rounds played on the respective courses.

“What use would be made of the current Red Tail club house (trailers cobbled together)?” I asked.

Walter suggested that some use could be found, maybe as a training facility. Maybe the current trailers could be removed and the heating and cooling costs saved.

The details of any such joint operating agreement would have to be worked out by those knowing more about the business than Walter or I.

But, the possibility that taxpayers throughout Lakewood might get stuck with future taxes beyond next year’s to pay off the bonds that purchased the golf course just before the real estate Tax Cap would have made it impossible without referendum approval is a non-starter with me.

Property covenants in Turnberry say that the country club must remain a membership-based club. I have been told that when one buys a round of golf for $50 a membership is included.

I shall certainly be asking all of the candidates for village board what they plan for Red Tail’s future.

Taxing me and my neighbors to pay for anything in this enterprise that was sold as and should be self-supporting won’t be part of the answer for those I support for election in my part of town.

I suggested at the last village board meeting that the land be sold to a developer. Smith said that neighbors wouldn’t like to have townhouses where they thought would be a golf course.

Of course, I did not suggest what type of housing might be built. That would be up to the village board.

I do know that there is no added benefit to me and my neighbors from the village’s ownership of a golf course. Our property values are tied to our proximity to Crystal Lake (the lake, not the city).

If those who do benefit directly from it want to buy the golf course, more power to them.

Or they could join others on what might be called the “Exit Strategy Committee” to find a way to keep the golf course there, but to make it self-supporting.

Who knows, maybe Turnberry Country Club might even let the village board hold meetings at its club house. I can’t image it would be busy enough not to have an empty room for the once-a-month Tuesday night meetings.

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