Pell City considers leasing struggling golf course

The only 18 hole golf course in St. Clair County is at a crossroads. Either the city of Pell City takes it on as a municipal course, or it may have to close down. Mayor Joe Funderburg made it clear that nothing is set in stone.

But Pell City is looking at a five year or ten year lease option from owner Dr. Larry Lemak of Birmingham. To make it work Pell City would have to find a way to market the course to get a lot more people interested in a round of golf.

"It would be ashamed for an eighteen hole golf course, the only eighteen hole golf course in St. Clair County to, for whatever reason, cease to exist," said mayor Funderburg.

But that may happen if a lease agreement is not signed soon. Pine Harbor Golf Course and Racquet Club's one hundred members is not enough to keep its doors open. The city is considering a lease agreement that would require Pell City to pay Dr. Larry Lemak{} $5,000 each month for five years. "My understanding in the proposal is that the city would take it over completely as a municipal course and that it would be operated by the city through our park and recreation department, and at that time we would maintain all the upkeep and everything that needed to be done to the course itself," Funderburg said.

Funderburg says people living near the golf course have expressed{} support of a lease agreement. However, some wonder if the city's $18 million{} budget could handle such an agreement. Funderburg admits, the city does have several other projects in the works. But{} believes leasing the land would be a way to get into the golf course business without biting off more than Pell city could handle.

"We are doing a lot of projects within the city and expending funds for those projects and we just don't feel at this time that we're in the position to make a purchase of this magnitude. We would like to kind of get in there and see how this is going to work."