A valuable community asset

Published 9:13 am Saturday, September 2, 2017

Southampton County and the City of Franklin have recently held discussions regarding financial support for Cypress Cove Country Club, with each locality considering a $30,000 contribution to subsidize the cost of golf play at the venerable facility. Franklin City Council has already voted to participate in the agreement. Southampton’s Board of Supervisors has tabled a decision pending a public hearing.

As with most public hearings in Southampton County, I expect that of those who speak, the majority will be in opposition to the agreement. I’d like to suggest that those who are inclined to oppose reconsider their position.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was once a member at Cypress Cove and have spent countless hours there with friends and family hacking away on the course. I gave up my membership several years ago, as the demands on my time provided fewer opportunities to play much golf. Nevertheless, I have memories of that place that will last a lifetime. If one day in particular stands out, it would be May 4, 2002. That morning, playing with some of my nearest and dearest friends, I holed out a wedge shot from 75 yards on the par-five 11th hole, scoring what was for me a very rare eagle. Later that evening, we returned to the ballroom where I danced with the girl I had just married a few hours before. It was a special day, and memories like that are what make Cypress Cove a special place for so many.

That having been said, in focusing on the future of the community there are many more altruistic reasons for supporting Cypress Cove than merely preserving history, personal memories or, as some have stated, giving a bunch of old men a place to play golf.

It is not a very closely guarded secret that Cypress Cove has been on the brink of closure for several years. Were it to close, the negative impact to the community would be far greater than a $30,000 investment to help keep it open.

Cypress Cove plays host to countless charity events every year, where local non-profit organizations are able to raise thousands of dollars for the good work they do in the community. It also affords our local high schools the ability to field golf teams, as it is the only course within a reasonable distance for them to be able to practice and host tournaments. And, yes, it is a place where a bunch of old men can play golf. But with the financial assistance from both localities, it will also be a place where more old men, women and children alike can play golf at an affordable rate. It’s hard for me to understand why that wouldn’t be a good thing to invest in.

Cypress Cove is also valuable as it pertains to families and businesses that may consider relocating to our community. Many have suggested we tout the area as a viable retirement community. Certainly a fully functioning golf course and country club would be an attractive asset when marketing that vision. It would also provide a place for our community college to play as it considers expanding its athletic department to include golf, bringing in even more young people to the community who would never step foot here otherwise, much like its fledgling baseball program has already done so successfully.

Perhaps, too, the involvement of both the city and county in subsidizing golf play at Cypress Cove would create a good jumping off point for a comprehensive, joint approach to recreation in the region, as both localities continue to seek benefit from joining forces in areas of mutual interest.

Lastly, at least as far as Southampton County is concerned, a $30,000 annual investment in the future of Cypress Cove will not create a negative $30,000 impact on its annual budget. Currently, the facility generates over $20,000 in tax revenue to the county. $8,700 of that total comes from real estate assessment, $4,000 comes from personal property tax and another $7,500 is created in meals tax. Should it close, the personal property and meals tax revenue would disappear, and the real estate assessment would likely be diminished.

Spending taxpayer dollars to financially support Cypress Cove Country Club may look like a wasteful expense to some, but digging deeper actually reveals it to be a wise investment in the future in our community. I hope members of the Southampton County board of supervisors recognize that and follow the lead of their Franklin colleagues in helping to ensure the future of a valuable community asset.

TONY CLARK is the publisher of The Tidewater News, and can be reached at tony.clark@tidewaternews.com.