The Brookings City Council will consider its Tourism Promotion and Advisory Committee’s recommendation to allocate $10,000 a year for five years to build an Occasion Hall at Salmon Run golf course, at its regular meeting Monday night.
The money would come from Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) that are charged those staying in hotels and other lodging facilities in town.
By law, 70 percent of TOT money must be spent on tourism promotion and the remainder goes to a municipality’s general fund. Brookings, however, was grandfathered in when that law was enacted, so under its rules, 75 percent of TOT cash goes to the town’s general fund and 25 percent is spent on tourism promotion.
TOT money totals about $212,000, of which $53,000 goes to tourism promotion. It is spent on advertising in the Rogue River Valley, video promotion on social media and new, off-season events designed to attract tourists to the area, among other programs.
An Occasion Hall
Salmon Run golf course is owned by the city and managed by Val and Gary Early of Early Management Team. The couple has been challenged from the start to make ends meet — as have all past managers and concessionaires — and the Chetco Bar Fire and salmon season closure last summer didn’t help.
Special events such as weddings and reunions have helped the bottom line, they said, but it could be even better if they had a permanent building, rather than the event tent they use and that gets battered in the weather, according to Parks Manager Tony Baron in a report to the council.
“Currently, the meeting space is a large durable tent that can be expanded with two additional tents,” wrote South Coast Development Council (SCDC), which Brookings retained to conduct a feasibility study. “During one event earlier this year, wind damaged the large tent and completely destroyed the two smaller tents.
“The investment in a solid building … would benefit the entire community,” the report continued. “EMT feels it would beneficial and financially advantageous to the golf course, the city and the community at large to build a building that would withstand the winter weather and provide event space.”
Baron agreed, saying, “Constructing this type of facility provides the city the opportunity to be a coastal event destination, and SCDC estimates it could generate an additional $30,000 in annual TOT funds.”
It could add two to more three jobs at the golf course and provide a much-needed space for community events, the SCDC report reads.
According to SCDC, one wedding can bring an average of 200 people from out of the area who would stay in local hotels for at least two nights, generating a total of more than $2,000 in revenue. One conference could bring an average of 100 people and generate about $1,000, and golf tournaments could be held year-round, at an estimated $500 per night per event.
The Earlys have told city officials they have had the opportunity to book conferences and seminars that would draw scores of people for up to a week, but the tent, at this point, is unuseable.
Lost revenue from April 2016 through this past April have included four winter weddings, two multi-day meetings, a fundraising event, three large Christmas parties and a retreat for Rogue Valley businesses, they said.
… and the cost
The city has received two preliminary bids, one for a 2,800-square-foot metal building kit that would cost about $35,100. According to a proposal submitted by the company, Hansen Buildings of Minnesota, that base price doesn’t include a concrete floor, doors, ceiling trusses that can support a load nor walls that are ready for drywall.
A second firm, Parker AD 300, submitted an initial cost estimate of $57,100 for a 7,200-square-foot structure.
Both could be subdivided into smaller rooms to accommodate fewer guests, enabling multiple events to take place simultaneously, SCDC reported.
SCDC said the golf course would recoup its costs in 24 to 36 months.
Some city councilors at the last meeting, when the idea was introduced, expressed concern that having a venue so far from town — the golf course is 3.5 miles down South Bank Chetco River Road — could deter people, particularly locals, from attending events.
They cited the difficulty in driving back into town to retrieve a forgotten item, say, and the unwillingness of many residents to drive a winding road at night as examples.
“The truth is that it is only 3.5 miles from downtown, and only eight minutes to get to the facility,” SCDC wrote. “Once at the course, the beauty of the surroundings and the peaceful nature seem to overcome the eight-minute drive factor.”
Brookings has few places in which to hold events, and most are limited as to how many people they can accommodate. Some of the venues include the Grange Hall in Harbor, the Chetco Activity Center in Brookings and meeting rooms at the Best Western Beachfront Inn or the Harbor Water District.
“There is a need for additional meeting spaces,” the SCDC report reads. “As a community, Brookings needs to be ready in the future for such requests. As the warmest city in Oregon during the winter, and with its moderate summer temperatures, Brookings can become a go-to, year-round meeting location.”