Next month marks the third anniversary of the re-opening of Sherwood’s municipal golf course, now known as The Greens at North Hills. For many years, before the city obtained it by eminent domain, it was a privately owned and operated facility known as the North Hills Country Club and golf course.
The city originally borrowed about $7 million for North Hills, $5 million to buy it with the remainder to fix it up and replace outdated equipment such as the former decades-old golf course irrigation system. A portion of the $2 million used to refurbish the facility was to install a new sprinkler system that replaced a system that was about two decades old at the time.
Thw three-year anniversary is being marked next month by the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce holding its 2013 annual golf tournament at The Greens.
Marcia Cook, executive director of the chamber, said the April 29 tournament is being held in conjunction with the course’s third anniversary.
“This will be an afternoon flight, with tee off at 1 p.m.,” she said.
For more information or to register a four-man team, contact Cook at the Chamber office (501-835-7600 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
The city’s involvement with the course had caused debate for years.
For years, there had been a debate if the city should procure the land for the golf course and country club. After city officials settled that question, following much debate taking place over about a three-year period, the question then arose which entity should be responsible for its financial oversight: Is it the Sherwood Public Facilities Board or the Sherwood City Council along with Mayor Virginia Hillman?
Different sets of attorneys had been grappling with this issue for years.
In 2012, the Sherwood Council, after taking advice from City Alderman Charles Harmon and Municipal Attorney Steve Cobb, opted to take over managing the $1.29 million left at that time in funding that was borrowed about two years earlier for the city to buy the course.
Harmon credited then-fellow Alderman Steve Fender for rightly arguing that the city should have oversight over the funds instead of the city facilities board that is a separate governmental body and has its own board.
“I owe Alderman Fender an apology,” Harmon said at the time when the city took over financially managing the course. “He brought this up about a year and a half ago and asked whether or not the spending of the funds when we made improvements on the golf course —whether those funds should come to council.”
Harmon said he and other city officials were operating under legal advice given to them by bond counsels representing the facilities board. However, more recent legal interpretations led city officials to conclude that the money should be managed by the city council and mayor.
Cobb said the issue of which governmental body – the council or facilities board – should manage the remaining golf course funds was more of a housekeeping matter because the funds spent on the course were used for the purpose of buying and restoring The Greens at North Hills.
About two years ago, the Sherwood City Public Facilities Board voted 3-0 to direct Chairwoman Linda Napper to retain the services of an accountant and have the board’s books audited during the time that the board oversaw the city borrowing $7 million to buy and renovate The Greens.
Both facilities board members and Harmon had expressed frustration that they keep getting legal opinions from different attorneys about whether the facilities board or council should manage the money.
According to the city of Sherwood’s website, The Greens is located 13 miles from the Little Rock National Airport and is convenient for both residents and visitors.
“The renovated Robert Trent Jones Project from the early 80’s boasts a beautiful landscape of mature trees and target greens. The greens feature Champions Bermuda making the putting surface playable year round,” states the website.