Knowing Palatine Park District's finances won't allow for the multimillion-dollar improvements that have been discussed for the Palatine Hills Golf Course, officials have opted to go forward with a more modest proposal to renovate its clubhouse.
The park board recently approved spending $450,000 to renovate the interior of the outdated facility. The project will be funded using existing reserves.
"It needs a good facelift," Executive Director Mike Clark said. "Our hope is that with this update, we'll improve the entire experience and entice golfers to come in and spend more time and money rather than just showing up, playing and going back to their cars."
Like most suburban park district golf courses, Palatine Hills consistently loses money. Last year, which was an especially long season, revenue fell about $61,000 short of expenses. This year, the park district budgeted a $108,000 loss.
Clark said the renovation will greatly improve the bathrooms and the bar and grill area's "circa 1950s decor." Officials expect the new space will create new revenue streams by booking more outings and getting groups outside of golf to hold functions in the clubhouse during the offseason.
Given the park district's current debt service structure, Clark said it's unlikely the organization would be able to issue bonds for more significant improvements for at least another five or 10 years. As a result, officials also are focusing on more manageable measures aimed at mitigating ongoing flooding problems.
The park district has been working closely with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, which is letting the Margreth Riemer Reservoir in Palatine take on more water to ease the burden on the nearby channel. That should give water that pools on the golf course a place to go.
In addition, the park district will provide MWRD with land for a drainage project at the northeast corner of the course and will widen the channel.
Palatine Hills also completed a project to have paved cart paths throughout the course, which allows it to reopen sooner after a storm.
"The golf course is in a flood plain, so from a watershed management standpoint, it's doing what it's meant to do (by taking on water)," Clark said. "It won't stop the flooding, but we've already seen improvement."
Clark said the course was able to reopen much quicker after the last two major flood events than in the past.
Naperville-based Charles Vincent George Architects will attend the Oct. 15 park board meeting to present more detailed design concepts for the clubhouse renovation. Work is expected to be completed by mid-March 2014.