Palazzolo: Germantown will consider buying golf course site set to close next month

By Published: January 15, 2019 12:15 AM CT

The City of Germantown is considering purchasing the Germantown Country Club, which announced last week it will close in February.

In a statement on the city’s website, Mayor Mike Palazzolo stated he directed city staff members and the Parks and Recreation Commission to study the idea of buying the 180-acre site between Farmington Boulevard and Wolf River Boulevard east of Kimbrough.

“This is a beautiful piece of property and with the limited amount of vacant land in our City, it just makes sense to assess the possibility of the City purchasing the land,” Palazzolo said, adding that City Administrator Patrick Lawton discussed the matter with aldermen, along with Parks and Rec Chairman Kevin Young and Park Director Pam Beasley.

“Of course they will need to access the expertise of our City departments, including engineering, to make an informed decision about the possible purchase, but who better to make a recommendation like this than our residents,” Lawton said.

Late last week, the trust that owns the 18-hole course and accompanying amenities announced it would close in February. The land is zoned residential with a minimum of 15,000-square-foot lots allowed.

With concerns arising about what could go on the property if the golf course use was abandoned, Palazzolo assured residents that he would not support multi-family or Smart Growth development on the property.

Then, Wednesday morning, Palazzolo posted on the city’s website that city leaders would study the potential purchase of the site.

"The (parks and recreation commission) will conduct research and work with other city departments to determine the viability of the project. Cost will also be a factor in the decision,” Palazzolo said.

The mayor said consideration of the city purchasing the property developed over the weekend after the initial surprise that the country club would cease operations at the end of next month.

ABIGAIL WARREN: Germantown Country Club to close in February

The latest appraisal for the property by the county assessor’s office is $1.6 million, but that value likely is based on its use as a golf course rather than a potential for residential.

Alderman Rocky Janda is trying to save the property and keep it as a private club.

“I’m part of a group trying to financially help,” he said. “As a member, any feeling is if we can keep it as a golf course, that would be best.”

He said over the years he has enjoyed the accessibility of Germantown Country Club and said it is a “great amenity” to the suburb.

Janda also said he asked Lawton and Palazzolo that he not be a part of any city decisions regarding the club due to a conflict of interest.

He was not opposed to the city setting up an enterprise fund to run the country club similar to Germantown Athletic Club.

In the letter announcing that the club was closing, the owners – the Mary C. Anderson Revocable Living Trust – said they had pursued several options to keep the club open. “However, based on the fiduciary responsibility of the Trustee, the club must be closed,” the letter to the members said.

While there were immediate rumors last week regarding developer interest in the property, Germantown officials said after the announcement of the closing that they had not received any application for development of the property or even inquiries about allowed uses.

CLAY BAILEY: Palazzolo promises Germantown Country Club site will remain single-family residential

“We understand that there will be great interest in the property from developers and possibly from those who wish to continue operating it as a country club,” Palazzolo said in Wednesday’s communique. “It’s just too great of an opportunity to let it pass without some serious consideration by the city about how we could use it to benefit our residents and preserve the residential character of the area surrounding the property.”

Palazzolo has not met with members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen regarding the future of the site.

Alderman Dean Massey, a club member, said: “My preference would be to keep it a golf course." On a Facebook post, Massey said he looked "forward to parks and recreation coming to the BMA with the results of research into the viability of purchasing the Germantown Country Club for additional parkland."

Whether the city would continue to operate the property as a golf course “is to be determined,” Palazzolo said, but all options are under consideration. The suburb just completed an overall master plan for its park system, and that was before the opportunity to add 180 acres of basically open land to the recreation canvas. He did note, with the topography and other factors “it sets up well as a passive park” before reiterating that the evaluation is not focused in any one direction.

“We will try and find out how this opportunity folds into the park master plan,” the mayor said.

Massey mentioned the city’s park master plan, saying that there are funds intended to purchase and manage parks.

“We clearly have the money,” he said. “The question is: what is the best use for the citizens of Germantown?”

Palazzolo acknowledged it is too early in the talks for the sides to discuss the price to the city or whether the $1.6 million would be a starting point in the negotiations.

Even if a price is established, there are still steps including an appraisal necessary before the city would move forward.

The mayor said the trustees indicated they would like to have a contract on the property by late April or early May. He said details of the research and resulting recommendation would be announced as soon as the work is completed.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is a recommending body. The final decision on whether the suburb will pursue the purchase will come from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.


Germantown Germantown Country Club Mike Palazzolo

Comment On This Story

Email Editions

Sign up for our morning and evening editions, plus breaking news.