STOCKTON (CBS13) — A battle over city-run golf courses in Stockton is intensifying.
On Monday night, several Stockton City Council members and Mayor Michael Tubbs held an informational meeting. The courses are bleeding money, and the city is exploring what to do in the future.
Hundreds of people packed the Sierra Middle School auditorium, but all questions had to be submitted in writing or online.
Passionate people showed up to express their concerns about the possibility of losing Swenson Park and Van Buskirk golf courses.
“There is nothing left for us. This town is dying. There is nothing left,” said Kelleigh Sheridan. She’s lived near Swenson Park for 52 years.
“This is about our homes,” said resident Terry Thornton. “This is about our lives.”
Thornton and others say the city only has 3 percent green space; and that the golf courses provide a much-needed benefit.
“We need to save it,” said Scott Delay, “that’s all there is to it.”
He plans to host several events at Swenson Park golf course to generate interest.
But the courses come at a cost. The city is spending $700,000 – $850,000 a year to keep the two facilities open and operational.
“It’s very hard to justify spending that much on two golf courses when there are several in the area,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.
Tubbs has spearheaded an effort to eliminate the golf course subsidy. He says golf is a declining game, a poor investment, and that there are millions of dollars in deferred maintenance at each course.
“If someone wants to operate the golf course as a golf course with no taxpayer subsidies and can do the capital improvements, that’s awesome,” said Tubbs about the possibility of leasing the golf courses to private operators.
The main concern of those in attendance is the potential the golf course could be sold and developed into housing.
“Housing is not a compromise,” said Sheridan.
Stockton City Councilwoman Susan Lofthus says housing won’t happen on her watch.
“That was a staff idea, not a council idea,” said Lofthus.
She went on to say Monday’s community meeting was the first step in starting the discussion about what to do with the city-run golf courses.
Lofthus says no decisions have been made as of yet.