Mini-golf lease would in­clude up­grades

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> As the vote on leas­ing the bor­ough’s mini-golf op­er­a­tion to the Carousel at Pottstown moves closer, the pend­ing deal re­veals it will re­quire im­prove­ments to be made to the course.

Wed­nes­day night, bor­ough of­fi­cials briefed coun­cil mem­bers on the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which will likely be the sub­ject of a vote at Mon­day night’s meet­ing.

Bor­ough Man­ager Justin Keller said while it costs the bor­ough about $6,000 a year to op­er­ate the Manatawny Green mini-golf course, the Carousel, which is lo­cated on the ad­ja­cent prop­erty, was only of­fer­ing rent of $3,500 a year.

He said while the Carousel rep­re­sen­ta­tives are not in­ter­ested in pay­ing more rent to run the minigolf course, they are in­ter­ested in im­prov­ing it.

“We have re­ceived com­ments that the course is kind of ster­ile,” Keller said.

So the draft agree­ment now be­ing rec­om­mended by the staff in­cludes a clause that the Carousel will make $12,000 worth of im­prove­ments to the course dur­ing the three-year term of the lease.

Coun­cil­man Joe Kirk­land

wanted to know if there is any pos­si­bil­ity of prof­it­shar­ing from the deal and Keller noted that first the Carousel will need to make a profit be­fore that ques­tion be­comes rel­e­vant.

Given that the bor­ough has ex­pe­ri­enced an av­er­age $30,000 an­nual op­er­at­ing loss at the site, that is a chal­lenge the Carousel faces.

How­ever, noted Bor­ough Solic­i­tor Charles D. Gar­ner Jr., the lease also in­cludes three one-year ex­ten­sions af­ter the first three years, and per­haps Kirk­land’s con­cerns could be ad­dressed dur­ing those pe­ri­ods.

Parks and Recre­ation Di­rec­tor Michael Len­hart said the course ex­pe­ri­enced growth since it opened in 2014, but still lost money.

In 2016, it ex­pe­ri­enced 25 per­cent growth in rev­enues, even though it lost $35,000. In 2017, the course en­joyed a 37 per­cent growth in rev­enues and losses dropped to $16,000.

But in 2018, which “was a fairly ter­ri­ble year weath­er­wise,” rev­enues dropped back down by 50 per­cent and the bor­ough in­curred a $25,000 op­er­at­ing loss, Len­hart said.

The Carousel at Pottstown opened in 2016 and is a non-profit en­tity which op­er­ates in a build­ing owned by the bor­ough and lease for a mi­nor amount of money. The carousel group has paid for im­prove­ments to the build­ing.

It now hopes to ex­pand its op­er­a­tions and en­joy some economies of scale by us­ing the same staff to run both Manatawny Green and the carousel op­er­a­tion.

Len­hart said although the carousel group and bor­ough have al­ways co­op­er­ated, hav­ing one en­tity over­see the whole site will make co­or­di­na­tion eas­ier and let the carousel con­sol­i­date ticket op­er­a­tions for both fa­cil­i­ties.

Rides on the carousel are only $2, and it makes most of its money from host­ing events, which can now in­clude mini-golf as well.

Keller said the lease carves out cer­tain events for the bor­ough to use the course, like when the sum­mer camp chil­dren visit.

MEDIANEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

The Carousel at Pottstown opened in 2016.

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