UNION COUNTY

Golf course to get advisory committee

Committee, signage next steps for Buffalo Peak

By Cherise Kaechele, The La Grande Observer, @lgoKaechele

Two big changes will be coming to Union County regarding Buffalo Peak Golf Course: an advisory committee and new signage to promote the course.

At Friday’s Union County Commissioners’ work session, Buffalo Peak took up the second half of the day’s discussion. The first, and possibly most important, change discussed by the commissioners was the formation of a six-person advisory committee that will look at what is needed to increase the course’s revenue and begin to seek out state funding.

Commissioner Steve McClure said the state looks at the Buffalo Peak as a “failed golf course.”

“We need to start looking at it like a community amenity,” McClure said. “That’s where we turn it around.”

Much like the Mount Emily Recreation Area, the course should be handled as a recreational destination the community can enjoy, rather than as something that is going to make money for the county, he said.

County Commissioner Jack Howard said the commissioners should be a part of joint evening meetings with the advisory committee to make sure the public knows they are committed to helping the course.

Commissioner Donna Beverage suggested at least one commissioner should be in attendance at the committee meetings as a liaison.

McClure asked the course’s golf pro, Scott Marcum, who was in attendance Friday, whether he believed the golf course could see a rise in play.

“Yes,” Marcum replied. “Ideally, I’d increase the marketing.”

Marcum said 80 percent of those who play at the course are local. More aggressive marketing of the course is essential to draw out-of-area players to Buffalo Peak.

Nicholas Ducote, a grant writer who was asked to speak to the commissioners about receiving money for a feasibility study from the state, said the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is looking for monetary investment from the commissioners, not just an action plan put in place.

To get the state’s help will require more than the formation of a committee.

Beverage asked whether buying new signs and the City of Union’s grant for a walking path around the course would help show the state the commissioners are committed to improving Buffalo Peak.

Ducote said yes to both.

“That helps,” he said, adding that “anything with youth or college kids is a positive for (the state).”

The commissioners decided the first step they’ll take is receiving applications for people to sit on the advisory committee, with the goal of ensuring the entire county is represented.

Marcum requested to be on the selection process committee.

Applications will be taken until March 31, and the commissioners will make the appointments at their April 5 regular session meeting.

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The La Grande Observer
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