The Washington City Council Monday agreed to submit a letter terminating its lease agreement for Big Driver.
The council voted 8-0 to send a letter to L.B. Eckelkamp Jr. and Bonnie J. Eckelkamp to end the $1 lease deal.
The driving range has been operated by the city since 2013-14 costing a total of over $47,000 in maintenance fees.
Last month the city’s park board voted to not renew the lease.
City Administrator Darren Lamb said the city must give a 60-day notice to terminate the lease.
Originally the driving range was supposed to make money, due to the cost to mow the grounds, collect golf balls and other duties, it has been losing money.
“With the money it is bringing, it’s not really making sense,” said Chad Owens, parks maintenance foreman.
He added the shed roof at the facility needs to be replaced.
According to Owens, a parks department employee spends about 30 hours per week at the driving range mowing the grass or picking up golf balls.
“It adds up to a lot of time spent up there and not a lot of return,” he added.
Owens said Wolf Hollow’s driving range is less costly than Big Driver.
When asked, Owens stated usage has been on the rise some recently.
“It has increased but still not enough to offset the costs,” he said.
There is a golf ball vending machine that allows for people to purchase a bucket of balls with a credit card.
Owens said the city must purchase about 100 dozen golf balls each year, despite retrieving used balls at the range.
Councilman Joe Holtmeier asked what will happen with the vending machine once the driving range closes.
Owens stated it may be sold to another entity.
“If somebody else wants to open a range there we are certainly open to selling assets,” added Lamb.
Washington first entered into a lease agreement with the Eckelkamps in 2012, the same year the parks department took over operations of Big Driver and Little Putter.
The city council approved a lease extension in 2016 that was good until April of this year.
In 2015, the park board and city debated closing the facility. Funds for Big Driver and Little Putter were excluded from the 2015 budget because the range was losing a reported $15,000 a year.
In an effort to save money, but still keep the facility open, the city decided to close the Little Putter miniature golf area, but keep the driving range open.