WINONA LAKE — The Winona Lake Town Council voted unanimously to bankroll a $2.1 million purchase of the town’s championship golf course, Stonehenge Golf Club, in a special meeting Tuesday night, July 2.
The council voted 5-0 to approve Resolution 2019-7-1, establishing a revolving loan fund. The town will not hold the deed to the golf course.
Alan Tio, CEO of Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, presented to the board and said that the golf course, which was announced as closing in 2018, will be purchased by a newly-formed non-profit.
“We (KEDCO) have just formed a separate non-profit corporation called the Kosciusko Community Development Corporation and that entity is set up to provide a support for public-private projects,” Tio said. “If you have a project where the private sector’s not stepping in and the public sector can’t do all the work, how do we create a partnership to accomplish something great for the community?”
“So, we’re in the process of working through acquisition of the Stonehenge real estate — which consists of, I believe, nine parcels, 220 acres, buildings and personal property. (The loan fund) helps us support the acquisition.”
According to Tio, the price tag for the Stonehenge purchase is $2.1 million. The purchase will be paid by the loan, known as a draw loan, meaning Winona Lake won’t pay the entire sum at once, but will provide installments over a period “not to exceed 10 years.”
Randolph Rompola, of Barnes & Thornburg, explained the deal in further detail. “The loan would be structured such that it would be a draw loan so that the town would make money available to the CDC annually so the money would be available to make the semi-annual payments that the CDC would make to the bank.”
According to Winona Lake Town Coordinator Craig Allebach, the town has numerous funds that would be available to provide the money each year, but Rompola said the likely source would be the town’s economic development income tax coffers.
Tio said the plan includes seeking investors to occupy spaces on the property and one feature, called the Town Center, would involve some sort of amenity connected to the town.
“Why does the town need to be involved in it?” asked resident Jim Lemasters. “Why is it good for the town?”
Lemasters’ answer came from Town Council President Rick Swaim.
“We don’t know the future, but we know the present,” said Swaim. “And, the present is that right now had we not stepped in, that would be a meadow out there rather than an operating golf course. Our thought is that if we do something and help here and make this happen, we now have some control over what happens to that property.”
In addition to CDC purchasing the championship golf course east of Winona Lake on Pierceton Road, the smaller course across the road, Raccoon Run, will close at the end of the year and is planned for development of hundreds of homes.
“Economic development is changing and focusing a lot more on how do we create attractive communities where people want to live,” said Tio.