Flint, MI—At its Jan. 4, 2023 finance committee meeting, Flint City Council moved to indefinitely postpone a resolution to lease the city’s Swartz Creek and Kearsley Lake golf courses to Flint City Golf, LLC.
Per standing agreements, Flint City Golf will continue to operate the two courses until Oct. 31, 2023. Though Council did not put forward an alternate resolution to determine what would happen to the properties when those agreements expire, Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer suggested bidding them out.
“I think that we just need to put this out to bid,” Pfeiffer said. “I would just as soon get this out of the way. We can consider the motion to put it out to bid at the next meeting.”
Pfeiffer said his biggest problem with the proposed agreements was the amount of money that Flint City Golf was asked to pay the city for the properties: $8,305.41 annually for Swartz Creek Golf Course, and $6,921.17 annually for the Kearsley Lake Golf Course. Both included an annual 3% increase for the duration of the agreements.
The agreements would last five years, from 2023 to 2028, with an option to extend another five years into 2033.
When the resolution first appeared before city council at its Nov. 28 meeting, Pfeiffer described it as a “sweetheart deal” that undervalued the two properties—a sentiment echoed by Councilpersons Quincy Murphy and Judy Priestley.
“Whatever you pay for rent ain’t nothing compared to what you generate,” Murphy said.
Council killing the resolution could put an end to Flint City Golf’s lease of the two golf courses, which the company has been operating since 2013. However, Murphy referenced the possibility of Flint City Golf being awarded the leases again if they respond to an eventual call for bids on the leases with a more competitive offer.
Murphy said he viewed the current ten-year lease agreement with Flint City Golf as a result of flawed leadership under one of Flint’s former emergency managers, Darnell Earley.
“The problem I have is one: the emergency manager. When I look at y’all’s lease agreement, guess who signed off on it? Darnell Earley,” Murphy said. “I don’t like nothing that the emergency manager came in here and did with the water crisis and some of these cheap contracts.”
The Jan. 4 motion to indefinitely postpone the resolution came after Frank Preketes, current owner of Flint City Golf, addressed Council during public comment.
Preketes had previously appeared at a finance committee meeting on Dec. 7, 2022, advocating for Council to continue leasing the properties to his company and saying that he was willing to adjust the duration of the lease and the amount paid to the city, albeit at greater costs to users of the golf courses.
He also argued that it would be difficult for the city to find another company with the resources and experience to operate the courses.
“There is a significant investment for the next party that’s coming in,” Preketes said. “I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment that they’re going to need. So, you’re going to need to be very mindful that the next party coming in is able to do that and has some experience running the courses. It isn’t all about the payment.”
Preketes could not be reached for comment on Council’s decision—or whether Flint City Golf plans to submit a bid should the City open that process—by press time.