Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
by Jeff Toquinto, Bridgeport News Editor
BRIDGEPORT (Tuesday, October 23, 2001)
The Bridgeport Country Club and Pete Dye may soon have some company along the Interstate 79 corridor.
According to Bridgeport City Manager Kim Haws, promoters of the Charles Pointe development are working with an Arnold Palmer golf company – believed to be Arnold Palmer Golf Management – about opening as many as eight golf courses along the I-79 corridor in North Central West Virginia. One of those courses, said Haws, would be located in Bridgeport.
Haws said the city of Bridgeport became involved with the discussion of the course when Governor Bob Wise's administration dropped financial backing of the project. Because of that the cities involved with the courses would likely be involved with some sort of funding for the project.
"The options include revenue bonds to pay for the construction of the courses," said Haws, who added that Genesis Partners – the developers – have been negotiating for the project for some time. "The bonds would be paid off through green fees and other operating revenues."
Haws was somewhat skeptical that the bonds could be paid off in that manner. However, if the city is involved, it may join the other entities to make the project worthwhile. The city would have to use its municipal status to issue a bond on the project.
If it gets to that point, the city would have a course at the Charles Pointe site estimated to cost between $8 and $10 million. All the sites – six of which have definitely been identified – would be in the same price range, said Haws.
The idea, Haws told council, is to have golfers visit all of the courses on one trip. The trips would require the golfers to spend the night in the area and also to spend money.
But with nothing yet materializing at Charles Pointe and with several other courses in the area, one may wonder if a new course can work at the highly publicized development? Haws isn’t ruling it out.
"With the Arnold Palmer marketing name behind it, it has potential," said Haws. "It could bring significant visitors into the area and make Bridgeport a destination location, which is something that we’re not right now."
An 18-hole public golf course was part of the Charles Pointe master plan. This, however, is the first public indication of a golf project moving toward fruition.
Although Haws wasn’t sure about a time line, he added the project is on the fast track for a decision one way or the other. The reason for that, he said is that several other states are competing for the same project.