Crowd teed off at Metro plan

Community doesn't want changes at Glendoveer course
by: File photo A Barlow High School golfer follows through on a shot at the Glendoveer Golf Course recently. Metro is proposing some changes to the facility.

An overflow crowd of tennis players and golfers showed Metro officials little love Monday, Aug. 1, during an open house outlining possible changes to Glendoveer Golf Course.

Facing a steady decline in revenue, Metro - which owns the 242-acre course and leases it to operator Glisan Street Recreation - is considering reducing the number of holes from the two 18-hole courses and/or doing away with the indoor tennis facility to make room for an event space/golf cart parking area.

Other possibilities to 'restore vigor to the revenue flow,' according to Metro's website, include improving buildings and course maintenance, attracting golf tournaments, switching from gasoline-operated golf carts to electric ones, improving the driving range and offering on-site snack food and beverages.

Coupled with a loss in revenue, the facility has deferred maintenance. The irrigation system needs repairs, if not a full upgrade, a water tower on the southeast corner leaks, as does the roof over the four tennis courts, and the facilities are not code compliant, particularly with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Meanwhile, a 10-year contract extension for the company operating the course is set to expire at the end of 2012. Before Metro puts the contract out for competitive bids, it needs to know what Glendoveer's future holds - in short, what the operator would be operating exactly, and what the operator would be responsible for - said Metro Councilor Barbara Roberts.

'And for that you've got to examine every part of the property,' she said.

Located just east of 148th Avenue between Northeast Halsey and Glisan streets, Glendoveer includes two 18-hole golf courses, four covered tennis courts and a 2-mile fitness trail circling the property. The Ringside Steakhouse, along with a pro shop, clubhouse and driving range, are also located on the property.

Under the contract Metro has with the operator - a contract that dates back to the late 1970s - Metro receives 44 percent of the green fees, with no revenue from other property users.

And the income Metro does get has dropped from $900,000 in 2002 to $725,000 last year, said Lydia Neill, a Metro construction supervisor and Glendoveer property manager.

With irrigation a major expense, reducing the number of holes would lower the number of places most critical to irrigate, saving money, Neill said.

She estimates it would cost anywhere from $1 million to make the most crucial repairs and improvements, up to the $7 to $11 million range for all the other options under consideration, depending on what the Metro council decides to do.

Users critical of proposed changes

But frequent users said the proposed changes are sub-par.

'Keep it 36 holes,' said George Walker, golf course superintendent. 'There's room for improvements but not in the millions, in the thousands.'

If more challenging holes are needed to draw tournaments, 'there's room for lengthening holes already without removing them,' Walker added.

'Wholesale changes are gonna make this course worse, not better,' said Patrick Dunford, who runs a golf program in East Multnomah County and holds five tournaments a year at Glendoveer. 'Twenty-seven holes makes no sense at all.'

'Fix the things that need to be fixed and renegotiate the contract,' said Ken Oliphant, who bought a house in Gresham 15 years ago to be closer to Glendoveer. 'That's the best thing for us taxpayers and that's the best thing for the community.'

Spotting the Metro slogan 'Making a great place' on the back of a T-shirt, he scoffed.

'How about keeping it already great?' he said. 'Don't muck it up, and that was with an M.'

'Keep it as is,' said George Warneke of Portland. 'How many other parks in the city make money? Zero. … I don't see how the exorbitant cost of what it would cost to do that would make money for them.'

Paul Kuntzmann of Portland echoed that. If one of the 18-hole courses is reduced to nine holes, 'they're not going to draw as many tournaments as they are now' with two 18-hole courses, he said.

But it wasn't just golf players driving the complaints. Tennis players also are unhappy with the idea of their courts disappearing.

'These are the only public indoor courts in the area,' Tim Leatherman said. The next closest covered tennis courts are at the Portland Tennis Center near the Lloyd Center, 'and they're already at capacity,' he said.

'They just need to find a way to make more money, and I can appreciate that,' said Suzanne Auvil of Fairview, who attended the Monday meeting. 'But I don't want them to ruin this gem.'

Margaret Bitar, who lives near Glendoveer, agreed.

'Let's fix it. Let's maintain it. Let's spend a little money on it and keep it the same,' she said.

Eric Ledwith, who lives across the street, listened to a Metro parks planning manager explain the possible changes and why such options are being considered.

He took in the schematic drawings and graphics and shook his head.

'No,' Ledwith said. 'This is a really bad idea.

In the interest of full disclosure, Reporter Mara Stine is an avid runner who enjoys a lap or two around Glendoveer's fitness trail. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 503-492-5117.