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City Considering Developer's Unsolicited Offer To Buy MacDonald Golf Course

The city has received an unsolicited offer from a developer interested in purchasing the MacDonald Golf Course at 13th and Roosevelt.

The Wichita Golf Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss an offer to buy the city's MacDonald Golf Course.

The city says it received an unsolicited letter of interest from developer Johnny Stevens to buy the golf course at 13th and Roosevelt. Stevens is behind the Waterfront development in east Wichita.

Park and Recreation director Troy Houtman says there was some talk several years ago about privatizing the entire golf system, but a study showed "we would actually be worse off if we did that."

"When you privatize, sometimes they don't necessarily have the same interest in the community," he says. "They don't necessarily take care of the assets as well."

But he says the city has never considered privatizing just one of the city's five municipal golf courses.

“Some side benefits is that property gets back on the tax rolls, there’s less resources that goes to that park and I can emphasize on the other golf courses," he says.

"But then again, do we want to have competition with somebody else? There’s a lot of different questions to ask."

The city has been looking at ways to stabilize its struggling golf system and already plans to close the L.W. Clapp course in south Wichita.

MacDonald is one of the oldest courses in the system. A city report says rounds there have fallen 45 percent in the past decade, in line with a citywide and even nationwide trend; last year it operated at a deficit of more than $134,000.

In an effort to encourage younger residents to play golf — and become regular golfers in the future — the city's golf division recently partnered with the national organization First Tee to build a driving range and "player development campus" at MacDonald.

"It makes it a little bit more complicated," Houtman says.

He says Stevens, a former collegiate and professional golfer, wants to maintain MacDonald as a golf course. If the Golf Advisory Committee recommends the Park Board look into the offer, the city could then issue a request for proposals.

"There's several steps that we need to go through," Houtman says, "before anything is actually absolute."

The committee meets at 4:30 Tuesday at City Hall.

Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.