STOCKTON (CBS13) – The fight over Stockton’s public golf courses escalates after a letter is sent criticizing the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce over one of its most popular community events.
The chamber has been against the city’s decision to possibly close the sites in order to save money. However, a decision to host its annual golf tournament at a private golf course is not sitting well with Mayor Michael Tubbs.
Back in January, Mayor Tubbs said he received a letter from the chamber unanimously opposing any closure of Swenson Golf Course and was shocked to learn the organization is taking its business somewhere else.
“To be honest, I was incredibly disappointed, just given the energy, the activism in how every day, ordinary people are having car washes and making signs and things of that sort to rally around the golf course, and to receive a letter saying hey, as a chamber we want to see it open, I would just expect they would help us do that,” said Tubbs.
The chamber is hosting its annual golf tournament at a private golf club in April and not at any of the two city-run properties it’s been supporting for the last several months. The letter was sent to urge the chamber to move its event.
“Given their leadership in the community, their standing, a coalition of all the business leaders in the city, we definitely need them to be a part of the solution,” he said.
Leaders with the chamber declined to speak on camera about the letter but said their tournament is planned months in advance. Friends of Swenson, the group fighting to keep the golf course open says it would be impossible for the chamber to change venues in such short notice.
“Remember that costs have already been incurred to have the golf tournament where it’s going to be held will incur more cost and the chamber is doing it to raise money to keep the chamber operating, so that defeats the purpose of having the tournament,” said Blair Hake, Friends of Swenson.
The mayor says it costs close to $90,000 to maintain Swenson and Van Buskirk golf courses and can’t justify the cost when hardly anyone uses the properties – but friends of Swenson say people do utilize the sites.
“The facility has been used so much since the publicity came out about Swenson that there is no doubt that there is subsidy going to Swenson. It’s very well used, we’ve had events out there, and don’t think there is any question people are using Swenson,” he said.
The golf team at Lincoln High School which is right next door to Swenson doesn’t even use the site to practice, but friends of Swenson say they are working with school leaders to change that.