Seaford moves forward with the purchase of Golf and Country Club

By Tony E. Windsor

"I want to draw this thing to a conclusion." With those words Seaford Councilman J. Rhea Shannon motioned to approve the city's purchase of the former Seaford Golf and Country Club. His motion was seconded by Councilman Bill Bennett and passed unanimously. Within 15 minutes the City of Seaford moved through council business that included making arrangements to purchase the former Seaford Golf and Country Club property, sell the club house to the Nanticoke Senior Center and move forward with plans to open the golf course and swimming pool to the community by July. The council action drew to a conclusion all speculation about the future of the Golf and Country Club and the Nanticoke Senior Center. In recent months the Senior Center left its former home at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club when the lease ran out. The center has now taken up temporary residency at the former "Our Father's House" church building on US 13. Prior to casting the deciding votes, the Seaford Mayor and Council heard from Tom Brown, president of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce. Brown said on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce he wanted to go on record in support of the Country Club purchase. He said on May 11 the Chamber took up the question as to whether it felt the city should pursue the negotiations to purchase the former Golf and Country Club. "The Board voted unanimously (with one abstention) to support the City's efforts based on the belief that this is in the best interest of the community and its citizens," he said. Citing a variety of reasons, Brown said the Chamber feels the future of the country club property is important to the community. "First, as we try to attract new businesses, employees and residents to our area, a vacant property in the center of town does not leave a positive impression," he said. Brown also said that the purchase presents an opportunity to provide what the Chamber feels is much-needed recreational facilities for the entire community. "Finally, we are aware that the property can also be used for spray irrigation which will become a growing issue for the city as more strict environmental regulations take effect," he said. Brown said the Chamber sees the city's purchase of the Golf and Country Club property as positive for the economic development of the area.

"The Chamber is very interested in hearing from City officials regarding the progress of these negotiations and, when appropriate, providing our opinions and support," he said. Following council approval of the country club purchase, City Manager Dolores Slatcher pointed out that the unanimous nature of the purchase approval came about largely because of community support. She said the reaction from people present during a recent Public Hearing held by the city had a lot to do with the action taken by council. "If not for the public hearing and the significant number of people who voiced support for the city's purchase of this property, this vote may have gone differently," she said. "I think the reaction from the people during the hearing solidifies the feeling that the community wants the city to provide services for our seniors and for us to do what it takes to avoid having blight in the center of our city." Mayor Ed Butler said he feels the action by the city council represents the culmination of many hours of work. "This shows what can happen when a good community works together," he said. In addition to approving the purchase of the Golf and Country Club, the council also approved the process to begin the sale of the clubhouse portion of the SGCC to the Nanticoke Senior Center and to allow City Manager Slatcher to work with Wilmington Trust Bank to secure the loan to make the purchase. Action also allowed the city to pursue a hiring of Adkins Management to do necessary golf course work to facilitate an opening in July. The cost of hiring Adkins Management will be shared by the city ($40,000) and Wilmington Trust ($35,000). Adkins Management, which operates the Rookery, a public golf course near Milton, would operate and maintain the golf course for the first couple years. After the city has some operating experience under its belt, it will advertise for bids for golf course management companies, Slatcher said.It is expected that the golf course will be open seven days a week. Slatcher has also been given the go ahead to work with the Seaford Community Swim Center in coordinating the lease of the SGCC swimming pool. A board of directors is already in place for the new Seaford Community Swim Center, which would operate the former country club's pool in partnership with the city. Memberships in the pool would cost $75 per person and no more than $350 per family. The pool's swim team would be open to members as well as non-members.

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