WEST ORANGE, NJ — Kemper Sports Management has been selected to operate the Rock Spring Golf Course on behalf of the Township of West Orange, according to a resolution adopted at Tuesday’s council meeting authorizing the contract.
The approval of this contract comes a few weeks after the governing body adopted a bond ordinance that functioned as the pivotal vote to allow the township to assume control over the 138 acres of open space.
Kemper, a national organizational based out of Illinois that operates 100 courses in 24 states, will oversee the current 18-hole golf course on behalf of the West Orange for the next 20 months pending final transactional steps between the township and Montclair Country Club—the organization selling the property.
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This includes the bond sale, which is set to commence on Thursday with a targeted closing of April 18 if all goes according to plan, according to Township Attorney Richard Trenk.
“We have been moving at break-neck speed with the cooperation of everyone in town—especially the town council—to finish the acquisition of Rock Spring,” said Trenk. “We think we cleared the very last hurdle.”
Trenk added that the Superior Court Judge entered “a final order that basically declared no one can attach a lien” or any pending legal action against the Rock Spring purchase, which clears the way for the actual transaction, he said.
The attorney was cautiously optimistic in the April 18 closing and shared a tentative date of April 26 for a ceremony to celebrate the acquisition pending the deal’s finalization.
“Assuming that everything goes well, we’re hoping to add a community-wide ribbon cutting,” said Trenk. “Again, at the moment it will be Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at Rock Springs, but that is subject to slippage and obviously an assumed closing.”
Kemper hopes to gain formal control of Rock Spring prior to April 30, when the township is set to incur a $3,000 daily operating cost in case the purchase is stalled for any unforeseen reason.
“We believe this is going to work, and we believe we are going to be good partners,” said Ben Blake, executive vice president of Kemper, who presented to the council and answered any questions they had. “We really look forward to being involved in a golf course of this quality.”
Blake, who visited the course earlier that day, added that it held up well through the winter, but that he and his staff will have a “quick ramp up” ahead of them.
Moreover, based on details shared during the meeting, the contract is based on a 50/50 split of revenue between the township and Kemper Sports Management. After the resolution was passed to authorize the contract, Township Council President Jerry Guarino congratulated Kemper on the contract.
“The Township of West Orange will be depending on you,” said Guarino. “We look forward to your input and wish you much success as we give you the jewel of the Township of West Orange. Keep it polished.”