Village Council Receives Angels Crossing Report

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Tom Ham, owner of the management company running Angels Crossing Golf Course awaits his turn to speak at the Vicksburg Village Council meeting. In back of him are Jim Mallery and Tracy Locey, village officials.

By Sue Moore

A thorough review of operations at Angels Crossing Golf Course was presented to the Vicksburg Village Council by Tom Ham, owner of the management company that now runs the day-to-day functions of the golf course.

He listed the challenges he has experienced during the year he has been in charge: Accounting practices were not detailed enough to gain specific information from past years. His projections are based on his one year of experience. Budgeting for 2019 revenue forecast for golf is dependent upon weather and other factors beyond his control, he said. He explained the restaurant costs and the pro shop potential revenue and the costs of maintaining the course and making structural improvements.

Some early complaints were real and largely based on conditioning of the course. They died down after changes were made, he said. Ability to take credit card payments for the beverage cart out on the course was helpful. The clubhouse has a power issue for the golf carts that has only been partially solved. A new phone system has lowered costs and made for better efficiency, he said.

The restaurant ran out of ice every day because the small refrigerator kept breaking down. “We brought in another one that was twice the size and so it’s a non-issue now. The buffet didn’t have chafing dishes so we bought some new ones because when the food looks nice it even tastes better too. Lighting in the dining room was harsh. We’ve installed decorative lights to soften the whole atmosphere.”

Capital improvements are needed, Ham said. The maintenance people have a small sprayer adequate for the greens but is used for the entire course, costing a lot more in labor to apply fertilizer. The bunkers need repair and the quality of the turf needs to be consistent, he explained.

He shared his vision for the future. “The view from the practice green is breathtaking but we are not taking advantage of it. I see having that space used for weddings on the green. Remove some of the trees and brush to achieve a view of the clubhouse from the road (W Avenue) so people know we are here. Utilize the assets we have. The nine-hole area that was never fully developed could be turned into a nice short-hole game area for practice or for golfers who don’t have time to play a full 18 holes.”

“We want to position Angels Crossing as a premier destination facility,” Village Manager Jim Mallery said. “It’s the primary asset the village has. We have the structural part in place now with employee policies defined. My pride is in making the golf course fiscally positive. The course is now profitable.

“We’ve paid the bills and can now look at options under our ownership,” Mallery added. “Our focus as a staff is 95 percent on the governmental activities of the village. We are going to rely upon Tom to make the golf course work over the next few years. It can’t be sold until 2023-24 due to the bond issue that can’t be paid off early. I’m excited about the course and cautiously optimistic about the golf business to let the numbers shake out. We do not use any tax money for operation of the golf course.”

In Other Business

Appointments were announced to seats on the Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Historic Village Committee by President Bill Adams.

Kyle Mucha was named to replace Carl Keller on the Planning Commission in a key appointment: The next round of review for the Mill development is expected to take place in 2019. Jennie Holmes and Veronica Levin will round out the parks board. Julie Merrill accepted a seat on the Historic Village Committee.

Mucha, a Western Michigan University graduate, works for the City of Portage in Community Development. In his interview he hoped the village leadership had a plan to give as time and attention to smaller development projects. Other projects that might come before the Planning Commission while working on the bigger Mill project also need careful consideration.

Council members were also going to be busy serving on sub-committees for the 2019-2020 fiscal year with assignments to the Fire Authority, the Downtown Development Authority, the Library board, Sewer and Water Authority and the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study board.

Discussion centered around the new interview process that has been set in place for these appointments. Trustee Tim Frisbie asked staff to put together a chart with all the appointments and determine if the committee members were required to live in the village or could they be drawn from outside the boundaries.

The Brownfield committee which consists of the entire village council met and approved modifications to the brownfield plan to cover work at the former Bronson/Vicksburg Hospital on N. Boulevard for asbestos removal costing up to $174,875.

Budget amendments were offered as part of mid-year corrections by Mallery. This included an increase in estimated participation costs with the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority amounting to $122,000 out of a total budget of $682,000 for all participating entities.

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