Council voted Wednesday to pay off the remainder of Tony Joy's loan.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The man on his way out as operator of Avalon South Golf Course says he doesn't want to see the course suffer because of a public dispute between the city and him.
Tony Joy Jr. continues to confirm bookings for the upcoming season and says he's making sure all contracts are honored, even though he has to be out of his office by Feb. 22.
City council is weighing whether to form a parks board to operate Avalon South and other city parks.
Council's finance committee will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday to discuss future changes at the city-owned golf course, including legislation to buy needed equipment.
Loan repayment: Lawmakers agreed unanimously Wednesday to take out an internal note to repay $345,000 of a $425,000 loan Joy secured in 1995 to make improvements.
Officials have said the interest rate on the loan will be lowered by 3 1/2 percent because the city is taking over.
Gary Fonce, D-at large, made a motion to form a committee to work with the administration and consider recommendations to make changes at the course.
Council President Doug Franklin said he'll name a committee by Monday.
The legislation is part of a list of recommendations from the city administration that are aimed at turning around the troubled municipal course.
Bad publicity: Joy said Wednesday he doesn't want to see the course suffer because of bad publicity and doesn't want to get dragged into a finger-pointing match with the city.
He does think he's been made the scapegoat and was quick to say: "I'm sure not the bad guy. I've had a few bad years out here, that's all."
Joy, who operated the course under a lease agreement with the city, is behind in rental payments and county property taxes. The city paid Joy's real estate taxes a few times when the county threatened to foreclose.
He maintains he was promised by a former administration that the property would never be subject to taxation. The Ohio Department of Taxation ruled in 1994 that it is.
Joy also said that the tax bills always went to the city and that the first time he saw one was in 2000.
The city wants to create a parks board so the property can be exempt from taxation.
Out of pocket: Joy says his out-of-pocket expenses mounted at the course, especially after a big storm a few years ago that caused nearly $60,000 in damage. About half of that was covered by insurance, he says.
Much of the business at the course has consisted of league play, political fund-raisers and charity events.
Joy has disputed rumors that city officials and employees demanded free golf at Avalon South, but says he has extended free games to some officials, on occasion, as a courtesy.
Bob Marchese, D-at large, told fellow lawmakers that paying off the loan is the right thing to do because it will make residents feel secure that their interests are being protected.
"That course out there is definitely a jewel in the city," said Dan Polivka, D-at large, before the meeting.