City leadership has formed a reopening committee to discuss when facilities, such as Heritage Oaks, can resume usual operations, according to a Tuesday email from Michael Parks, the spokesman for the city of Harrisonburg.
Parks said in the email that there is no timeline for the reopening and that the city will not reopen any of its facilities, including City Hall, Heritage Oaks or any other Parks and Recreation buildings, until staff is certain of the safety for visitors and staff.
Some regulars of Heritage Oaks have voiced concerns that the closure continued to drag down revenues for the park, especially as other golf courses in the Valley have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Manager Eric Campbell explained the reasoning for the closure at the May 12 City Council meeting. He said when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued the stay-at-home order, employees of the course employees were given the same option as other city employees.
“We decided that it was safer to go ahead with [Heritage Oak’s] employees to give them the same amount of leave, the same amount of safety, and it immediately effected the staffing levels,” Campbell said during the meeting.
In the 2020 adopted budget, Heritage Oaks was budgeted a combined nearly $1.29 million — $732,502 for grounds management and $553,512 for clubhouse management — according to city documents.
In the amended budget for fiscal year 2021, that amount has been reduced to $487,330 for grounds management and $330,435 for clubhouse management.
Parks said city staff cannot share exact details of the budget cuts at this time, but that attention is being paid to make sure the quality of guests’ visit to the park is not reduced. He said the sources of the cuts are still under consideration.
Parks said that the initial revenue expectations for Heritage Oaks have become much more difficult to predict due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we are able to have the course open by July 1, those projections could hold true. It’s impossible to know as of today,” Parks said in the email.
He also said that staff is looking at changing the prices for daily fees, cart rentals and season passes to Heritage Oaks.