The Issue: Arrowhead Country Club Purchase Plan

bullet Background Information & Outcome
bullet My Position & Rationale
bullet Research, Documentation & Press Coverage

Background Information & Outcome

The Legislation: Ordinance No. 61-03 authorizing the Mayor of the City of North Canton, through the Board of Control, to enter into an agreement for the purchase of the premises known as Arrowhead Country Club, located at 1500 Rogwin Circle SW in the City of North Canton, Stark County, Ohio (Permanent Parcel #56-08084) at a cost not to exceed $4,200,000.

Council in Executive Sessions discussed the purchase of Arrowhead Country Club on five occasions: January 13, 2003: January 27, 2003; March 19, 2003; March 24, 2003; and April 7, 2003 (see Meeting Minutes). Contrary to the customary procedure, the legislation was handled in the Finance & Property Committee and never referred out of that committee for legislation.

An Akron Beacon Journal article, “N. Canton bid may violate the law (February 6, 2003)" reported that North Canton apparently violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Law on January 31, 2003, when it offered to purchase the Arrowhead Country Club for $4.2 million without first voting publicly on the issue in an open council meeting.

Prior to making the offer, the North Canton City Council had discussed the purchase in two Executive Sessions that were closed to the public. Council did not vote publicly on the purchase of Arrowhead Country Club until the legislation was read in open council for the first time on April 14, 2003.

The offer to purchase Arrowhead Country Club had been made by the city almost three months earlier on January 31, 2003, with no vote taken in an open council meeting.

The Outcome: The legislation was read at three open council meetings: April 14, 2003; April 21, 2003; and April 28, 2003 (see Meeting Minutes). The April 21, 2003 meeting of council was a special council meeting that was called specifically to vote on the purchase of Arrowhead Country Club.

The special council meeting accelerated the approval of the Arrowhead legislative by two weeks over the normal legislative approval schedule. Legislation is normally read and voted on at three regularly scheduled council meetings held at two week intervals.

The legislation required at least four votes for passage and received the needed votes for all three readings. In the third and last reading of the legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: McLaughlin, Snyder, Foltz, Lindower and Magel
Abstain: Kiesling
No: Osborne

After council passed the legislation on April 28, 2003, three city residents, including myself, initiated independent referendum efforts.

If the required number of signatures had been collected on the referendum ballot within 30 days following the passage of the legislation, the voters of North Canton would have been able to decide if the legislation was to have become law.

However, the referendum efforts failed and the legislation became law on May 29, 2003, as was reported in the Canton Repository on May 30, 2003, in an article titled “Arrowhead sale to city back on as referendum effort fails.”

Return to Top

My Position and Rationale

My Position:  The City of North Canton should not purchase Arrowhead Country Club.

bullet The City of North Canton can maintain the green space and protect the neighborhood from residential development through:

Zoning – present zoning does not allow residential development of the Arrowhead property. New zoning became effective June 12, 2003, that clearly restricts residential development of the property.

Eminent Domain – In the unlikely event that zoning could not stop development of the Arrowhead property, the city could take the property through eminent domain proceedings. In this process, a court of law would determine the fair market value of the property. In addition, all secret bids offered on the property over the last few years would be made available to the court. The city could then purchase the property at a fair market value as determined by the court.

bullet Private ownership and operation of Arrowhead Country Club property as a public golf course would bring a new business and property taxes to North Canton while permitting the city to retain a fine golf facility that is professionally run and maintained. Private ownership of Arrowhead would also eliminate the risk that the city may have to operate the golf course at a loss.

Earlier this year, an area businessman bid to purchase the Arrowhead Country Club property with intentions to continue operation of the property as a golf course.

bullet The $4,200,000 price the City of North Canton offered for Arrowhead Country Club appears excessive.

The 105-acre Arrowhead Country Club was valued at $2,259,300 in 2000 and $2,375,000 in 1997 (see Stark County auditor's property record card).

In addition, the 107-acre Bob-O-Link golf course, which will be developed for residential housing, recently sold for $2,454,869 (see property record card). Yet, property sold for housing development is typically valued at a premium.

I have read that golf courses typically sell for 2 ½ times the course’s gross revenue. If this is the case, and assuming gross revenues of approximately $1 million (approximately midway between the gross revenues of Massillon’s Legends and Akron’s Goodpark), Arrowhead Country Club should sell for around $2.5 million.

bullet The city is likely to experience significant expenses in the near future. The purchase of Arrowhead, especially at an inflated price, could compromise North Canton's ability to manage these expenses.

A settlement agreement with the Maytag Corporation indicates that North Canton is anticipating repaying as much as $2.5 million to the Maytag Corporation due to the corporation's overpayment of corporate taxes to the city. This was reported in an interview with North Canton Finance Director Julie Herr and published in the Canton Repository on April 25, 2003 and titled, “Budget at risk if North Canton buys golf course."

The city also has two more installments payable to the Maytag Corporation of approximately $359,000 each for overpayment of taxes in other years. The second of three payments is due in 2003 and the third payment is due in 2004.

Job eliminations at Maytag/Hoover reported in both the Canton Repository and Akron Beacon Journal point to a downward employment and economic trend for North Canton and surrounding areas. A few articles about the job layoffs are listed below:

“Hoover to lose 12 payroll department jobs” (Canton Repository; May 2, 2003)

“Hoover must lay off 350 workers” (Canton Repository; June 4, 2003)

“Maytag to cut 500 salaried jobs” (Akron Beacon Journal; April 17, 2003)

“Hoover to layoff hundreds in Stark” (Akron Beacon Journal; June 5, 2003)

The future of Maytag/Hoover jobs depends on the successful negotiation of a new labor contract that will expire in January 2005. Maytag/Hoover has moved all production out of the industrial plant and put the facility up for sale, which suggests to me a lack of commitment to North Canton and the surrounding area.

bullet Possible negative financial implications for the city of North Canton should be carefully examined before purchasing Arrowhead.

Will the city need a park levy to finance the purchase of Arrowhead Country Club?

Will the purchase of Arrowhead put further pressure on the city to raise water rates to repay the $11-million debt for improvements to the Water Treatment Plant? (see Water Rates Increase issue for details)

Will the city need to increase the Emergency Medical Service levy? Presently, the levy generates approximately $187,000 a year, yet current ambulance expenses exceed $1.0 million a year. A shortfall in levy revenue has been covered for several years by transferring funds from the general fund (the shortfall recurs because there has been no adjustment of the EMS levy in sixteen years).

bullet North Canton would probably have to subsidize the operation of Arrowhead Country Club if the city were to run it as a municipal golf course

This has been the experience of both Massillon's Legends Golf course and Akron's Goodpark over the last three years.  Financial statements of Massillon's Legends golf course and Akron's Goodpark golf course indicate that operating expenses run between $858,000 and nearly $1,077,000 yearly. The revenues at both courses barely exceed operating expenses in some years leaving very little to repay debt service on borrowed funds.

The City of North Canton could find itself repaying both the debt and a portion of the yearly operating expenses from the general fund just as Massillon and Akron do now.

bullet Private bidders for Arrowhead Golf Course were provided Arrowhead Country Club’s financial records; North Canton City Council was not provided the same financial records.

I requested the financial statements of Arrowhead Country Club in open council and in writing, but they were not provided.

I also requested the names of the bidders  and all bid amounts on Arrowhead Country Club over the past six months be made available to council. 

I thought that disclosure of this information to council was needed to protect the public.

bullet The City of North Canton does not have the expertise to operate a golf course and does not appear committed to saving the golf course.

In the minutes of a Recreation Board meeting held on January 8, 2003, regarding the city’s purchase of the Arrowhead property, there is discussion of developing a portion of the property into housing to recoup some money as well as discussion of the city reselling the property for a profit.

The Recreation Board discussions were also reported in an Akron Beacon Journal article on May 3, 2003, titled “Resident wants vote on N. Canton land deal”. I came into possession of this document by making a Freedom of Information Request to the Mayor’s office. This document was not distributed to council.

A memo to Mayor Tom Rice from North Canton Recreation Director Kim Cooksey, dated January 5, 2003, include suggestions for the use of the property such as a water park site, BMX bicycle dirt course, and salt storage facility to name a few. I came into possession of this document by making a Freedom of Information Request to the Mayor’s office. This document was not distributed to council.

Numerous quotes to the media by Mayor Tom Rice indicate that there is little if any commitment to use Arrowhead as a golf course or as a means  to preserve green space:

Council OKs city’s offer for Arrowhead” (Canton Repository, April 29, 2003) 

bullet “However, he [Mayor Tom Rice] warned neighbors that even if the deal goes through, the city cannot promise that the land will remain open indefinitely and that no portion of it will ever be developed or sold.”
bullet “You can liquidate that asset if you need to. You could sell it to a golf course operator if you want to,” Rice told council. “Our intent for buying (the course) is for investment and to … control the future uses of the property.”

"The future of Arrowhead Country Club is now in the hands of its stockholders" (Akron Beacon Journal, April 30, 2003)

bullet “We have no crystal ball,” Rice said. “We don’t know what will happen with Hoover or other revenue sources. But the city can liquidate the land if it becomes necessary.”

"Resident wants vote on N. Canton land deal" (Akron Beacon Journal, May 3, 2003)

bullet “Rice said Thursday he has heard hundreds of ideas for the future of Arrowhead. He said he does not support using a park levy to pay for the country club and isn’t ‘crazy about running a golf course long term.’”

bullet “’At this point, I wouldn’t rule anything in or out,’ Rice said. ‘Whether the land becomes a park, we pay someone to run it as a golf course, or it ends up being houses, my position has always been that we should acquire the land so we could be in charge of how it is used.’”

Return to Top

Research, Documentation & Press Coverage


bullet My letter to Law Director Roy Batista requesting legal opinion regarding residential development in areas zoned P & I (Parks & Institutional) in the City of North Canton. January 16, 2003.
bullet Letter from resident to Superintendent of Permits and Inspection Gene Hemminger requesting clarification of Park and Institutional zoning districts.
bullet Written opinion from Law Director Roy Batista regarding legality of residential development in an area zoned Park and Institutional. January 17, 2003
bullet My letter to Mayor Tom Rice regarding unfavorable leaseback arrangements under discussion prior to bid for Arrowhead (January 24, 2003).
bullet My letter to City Council President Jon Snyder requesting that council table its vote on the purchase of Arrowhead Country Club. April 14, 2003
bullet Application from Arrowhead Country Club for a zone change. (May 15, 2003)
bullet Written opinion from Law Director Roy Batista regarding Arrowhead Country Club’s request for a zone change. To my knowledge, this opinion was not requested by anyone on council. (May 15, 2003)
bullet My letter to City Council President Jon Snyder requesting that council postpone the closing on Arrowhead Country Club until repair costs are determined and contamination of the property is remediated. (July 1, 2003)
bullet Response from City Council President Jon Snyder to my request to postpone closing on the Arrowhead Country Club property. (July 2, 2003)

Press Coverage:

Canton Repository:

bullet N. Canton may consider buying Arrowhead (January 7, 2003)
Arrowhead Country Club membership is driving sale (January 8, 2003)
bullet North Canton to bid on Arrowhead tract (January 14, 2003)
Arrowhead a great buy for N. Canton (January 21, 2003)
bullet North Canton citizens should debate how property could be used (January 30, 2003)
bullet North Canton offers $4.2M for Arrowhead (February 6, 2003)
Sale to city would benefit club as well (February 7, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead neighbors oppose new houses (February 11, 2003)
bullet N. Canton takes first shot at buying golf course (April 8, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead purchase, Sanctuary plans move forward (April 15, 2003)
bullet North Canton tries to speed up plan to buy Arrowhead (April 22, 2003)
bullet Budget at risk if North Canton buys golf course (April 25, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead remains a good investment (April 27, 2003)
bullet Council OKs city’s offer for Arrowhead (April 29, 2003)
bullet There’s plenty wrong with this picture (May 3, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead members OK sale to N. Canton (May 5, 2003)
bullet North Canton council has been looking out for well-being of residents (May 12, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead property holds great promise for North Canton residents (May 13, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead wants OK to build houses (May 15, 2003)
bullet Wait, worry is newest game at Arrowhead (May 16, 2003)
bullet North Canton has great opportunity (May 18, 2003)
bullet Don’t expect an extended stay for Clarett (May 18, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead, Oster wrangling continues (May 20, 2003)
bullet Osborne tries to stop every positive move council takes (May 21, 2003)
bullet Osborne’s petition is not a vote for housing development (May 21, 2003)
bullet Osborne puts Arrowhead referendum on back burner (May 23, 2003)
bullet Petition signature tells Arrowhead not to sell to city (May 23, 2003)
bullet City weighs uses of Arrowhead land (May 25, 2003)
bullet Inside North Canton’s land deals (May 25, 2003)
bullet North Canton prepares to sell Oster, buy Arrowhead (May 28, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead sale to city back on as referendum effort fails (May 30, 2003)
bullet What’s next for Arrowhead? (June 2, 2003)
bullet Development of Arrowhead would add to North Canton’s tax base (June 7, 2003)
bullet City looks into Arrowhead options (June 29, 2003)
bullet Concerns arise at Arrowhead (July 1, 2003)
bullet How does secrecy serve public interest? (July 2, 2003)
bullet If city buys Arrowhead, then what? (July 4, 2003)
bullet North Canton shouldn’t buy Arrowhead (July 7, 2003)
bullet Too little, too late (July 7, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead sale a step closer (July 8, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead sale won’t be the end for golf course (July 9, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead belongs to city, but club’s future undecided (July 11, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead finances go into the hole (August 2, 2003)

Akron Beacon Journal*
Archived  Akron Beacon Journal articles are available to view on the web for a fee of $2.95 per article.  Past Akron Beacon Journal editions can also be found at local public libraries.

bullet N. Canton may want golf course (January 8, 2003)
bullet N. Canton council OKs golf course bid (January 14, 2003)
bullet Country club site has a rich history (January 15, 2003)
bullet N. Canton looks at offer for club (January 27, 2003)
bullet N. Canton bid may violate law (February 6, 2003)
bullet Water isn’t best rationale to buy North Canton club (February 11, 2003)
bullet North Canton prepares offer for country club (April 8, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead purchase gets initial approval (April 16, 2003)
bullet North Canton nears country club deal (April 22, 2003)
bullet Council OKs plan to buy country club (April 29, 2003)
bullet The future of Arrowhead Country Club is now in the hands of its stockholders… (April 30, 2003)
bullet Resident wants vote on N. Canton land deal (May 3, 2003)
bullet N. Canton club OKs sale of land (May 5, 2003)
bullet N. Canton may vote on 2 land deals (May 14, 2003)
bullet Official pushes for partnership (May 21, 2003)
bullet North Canton official halts referendum effort (May 22, 2003)
bullet North Canton OKs two property deals (May 29, 2003)
bullet Prospective buyers arise for golf club (June 3, 2003)
bullet Gulf club trustees considering offers (June 4, 2003)
bullet N. Canton to buy Arrowhead club (June 5, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead members reconsider (June 13, 2003)
bullet Club could cost city more (July 2, 2003)
bullet Club trustees, members to meet (July 2, 2003)
bullet North Canton official reviewed (July 8, 2003)
bullet N. Canton finalizes Arrowhead deal (July 11, 2003)
bullet Arrowhead votes to close early (August 2, 2003)

Return to Top


Home  Search  Contact  Privacy Policy 

Copyright © 2003 Chuck Osborne, North Canton, Ohio 44720 USA All rights reserved.
Site Design & Development: Clarity Web Services

Paid for by Chuck Osborne,  Rita J. Palmer, Treasurer,  307 Fairview St. SE North Canton, OH 44720