By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Community-oriented activities, including year-round banquet facilities, glow-in-the-dark golf and cross-country events may be among the future plans for the Dearborn Hills Golf Course.
During the Feb. 2 mayor’s briefing to the City Council, Mayor Hammoud asked for an amended budget for fiscal year 2023, which would allow the course to open in the spring.
The current budget contains a reduced budget for 2023 to maintain the grounds and greens while the course was closed. However, in December, the mayor tasked Parks and Recreation Director Sean Fletcher with developing a nine-hole pilot course, with the goal of it opening this spring.
“The nine holes is actually going to be on the opposite side of the banquet center, on the other side of Telegraph,” Hammoud said. “We think that side of the field will be up and ready to go.”
Department of Public Works employees would provide support staff for the grounds, and Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Dan Plamondon, along with the yet-to-be-determined assistant recreation supervisor would oversee the re-opening of the golf course.
In a Jan. 26 memo to the council, Hammoud estimated $150,000 in revenue and $215,000 in expenses.
Hammoud said that work to clear the log jams on the lower branch of the Rouge River will continue on the banquet side of the course, west of Telegraph Road, using American Rescue Plan Act money.
“As we are clearing out log jams, we will continue to try to decrease the water levels of the Rouge River,” he said. “Last year we did some of that work, and with the work that we did, we got the water level (down) significantly, and we actually had minimal to no flooding along the golf course for the first time in quite some time.”
Hammoud said the parking lot has also been flooding much less than in the past.
The mayor said the city will request quotes for the management of the Dearborn Hills banquet facility, and said city officials do not feel that the city is the best choice to staff the facility.
Hammoud said the city is looking for a restauranteur to operate the banquet center year-round, seven days a week.
He said with the banquet center operating as a full-time restaurant along with event rooms, it could help offset the expenses of the golf course, which has been operating in the red.
Hammoud said Mystic Creek Golf and Banquet Center at Camp Dearborn in Milford is now operating in the black, and he would like to see a similar upward trend occur for Dearborn Hills.
“We want to improve things at Dearborn Hills,” he said. “It’s a beautiful amenity.”
Hammoud said city officials will explore additional events that could occur on the golf course.
He said in 2022, when the golf course was closed, it hosted a lot of high school cross-country meets.
Hammoud said with a demand for community activities, the city is considering a winter light festival, possibly with cross-country skiing trails, glow-in-the-dark golfing and a disc golf course.
“We think that if you have something that is beautiful, you can add to the golfing crowd and add to the experience for residents in the neighborhood,” he said. “It is a prime piece of property at a beautiful golf course.”
Hammoud said the banquet facility is licensed for food, liquor, and smoking, which is permitted on the back patio.
“We think it is a great amenity that is ripe for an entrepreneur to help us run,” he said. “They can generate some sizeable revenue.”
Fletcher said he has already been approached by residents willing to form an advisory group for possible activities and events, which he said is great, because it takes the pressure off the Parks and Recreation staff.
Hammoud said if there is a successful request for proposal, he anticipates that some banquet facility renovation would be needed, and doesn’t foresee a restaurant opening until next fall or winter, or even a year from now.
City Councilmember Ken Paris asked if the mayor anticipated a significant investment in the golf course’s irrigation system, based on past proposals for the equipment.
Hammoud said he wants to take care of the log jams along the Rouge River first to alleviate flooding and damage to the course before they address any potential irrigation system needs. The current irrigation system is reportedly functional, aside from minor needed repairs. It was noted that there would be less demand on the system with a nine-hole course than there was with an 18-hole course.