Starting in January, DeBell Golf Club will operate under a new management structure, relieving the city of day-to-day responsibilities, but the city-owned club is still grappling with a $600,000 backlog of capital improvements it cannot afford to make.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with S.S. Golf, owned by Scott Scozzola, to oversee all club operations, including managing the golf course and restaurant operations, negotiating all maintenance and service contracts, developing a long-term capital improvement program and purchasing license and insurance for the facility.
The club’s restaurant, currently the Clubhouse Grill, will no longer be run by Shelly and Ray Lucero. Tom Shayman, the owner of Burbank Bar and Grill, will take over the restaurant, which will be renamed the Canyon Grill at DeBell.
Scozzola — who is currently the club’s director of golf — will lease the property from the city for $300,000 annually.
The move comes two years after the council voted to bail out the cash-strapped club, which had depleted its reserves constructing a $9.4-million clubhouse in 2007, shortly before being hit by the crippling economic recession.
At the time, the club used a $1-million loan from the city to improve its operating deficit, while the city has kept another $1 million in a General Fund holding account in case it’s needed.
And it just might be.
It’s likely the City Council will be asked to step in and provide further financial assistance. The $600,000 worth of needed capital improvements includes the seismic retrofitting of several buildings on the course, along with improvements to the golf cart path, driving range and irrigation system, none of which the club can afford to pay for on its own.
According to a city report, the club won’t generate enough revenue to maintain or improve the course until 2022, if then. Therefore, down the line, the city will likely have to consider either forgiving the loan payments, using General Fund money to pay for capital improvements or subsidizing programs at the course, city officials said.
Currently, the club is slated to begin paying back the $1-million loan in 2016 and a separate $2.1-million loan — which helped pay for the clubhouse — in 2019. A portion of the loan repayments will come from the club’s $300,000 annual rent.