HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Two weeks ago, Huntsville City Council unanimously voted to terminate a contract with Robertson Golf Management, which runs the Municipal Golf Course. As a part of the vote, the city's Parks and Recreations Director said the course would close indefinitely New Years' Day, while the city figures out what renovations need to be done.
Thursday night, nearly a dozen concerned golfers shared their frustrations about this plan in front of Huntsville City Council.
“You don’t have to shut the whole course down in order to make changes to one section at a time," says Richard Mollier, an avid local golfer.
One by one, they came to the podium. “To close the course, I just think that’s the wrong answer. I think you need to look at an alternative," said another golfer.
The hope was to change the city's mind about the indefinite closure. “I have a petition of almost 700 signatures that are asking the city to keep the golf course open," Adam Smith told the council.
When we spoke to Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ivey last week, he indicated the city would take their time in reviewing what needed to be fixed. “We will move this process as fast as we can, but we’ve got to be thorough," Ivey told us.
At the meeting, City Administrator John Hamilton sang a different tune. “Because I agree, if we just let the course sit there and go fallow, it will cost a lot more for the new operator to get it back up and running," he told the council chamber.
Hamilton shot straight with the golfers. “Honestly, I do not believe that going through the competitive RFP process, which is what right now is our understand is our legal requirement under state law, to get a new operator contract in place, I do not expect to be done by 1 January," he says.
Adam Smith, who is a current course employee, says that goal is completely achievable. “There is a management company already here that is willing to already do the renovations and keep the golf course open," says Smith.
That management company is called Green Masterpiece LLC, which was brought in last April by a representative of Robertson Golf Management to potentially step in and take over the contract. “I hope the city council will get something worked out as fast as possible," says Smith.
Unless a deal can be made on the 18th green, it looks like regardless of who the next course operator is, the course will close for some about of time, January 1st.
City Administrator John Hamilton says he will check with the city's legal department whether they can execute an emergency, temporary contract to keep the course open.
He says he should know the answer to that, in the next week or so.