Old Works Golf Course Faced with Financial Troubles

Board voted to close the facility at the end of the month if it doesn't receive a cash infusion

By Dillon Tabish

ANACONDA — The board that oversees the Old Works Golf Course near Anaconda has voted to close the facility at the end of the month if it doesn’t receive a cash infusion from Atlantic Richfield Co. to continue operating the course that was built on a Superfund site to cap decades of copper smelting waste

At its Oct. 8 meeting, board members rejected a preliminary financing offer from Arco because it was contingent on them paying the debt they already owe the company. They said they would close the course and lay off its three, full-time, year-round employees if Arco didn’t agree to release a $100,000 contingency fund to the course along with at least another $10,000.

The board also has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for a $250,000 line of credit as an interim subsidy until Arco reaches a final settlement of its Superfund case with Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

“In general we’re all hoping that between the county, Atlantic Richfield and the EPA, everyone will recognize that we can’t let the golf course fail during the global settlement negotiations,” said Carl Nyman, Superfund coordinator for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

Arco’s parent company, BP, sent a statement to The Montana Standard saying that in addition to building the Jack Nicklaus-designed course and donating it to the county, it has provided over $700,000 to help operate it over the last 17 years. The facility needs to become self-sustaining, and stop being a continual obligation for Arco or the county, BP spokesman Jason Ryan said.

With the board’s rejection of the credit line, “we are willing to make an additional offer to … extend the time for repayment until they implement that plan for success,” Ryan wrote.

If the board finds the course is not viable, “we will forgive the loan and the current line of credit and work with the county and the EPA on developing another use for the property consistent with the remedy,” Ryan said.

Local government officials say the golf course wouldn’t be struggling if BP wasn’t delaying its Superfund settlement with the county.

“Atlantic Richfield is the hang-up,” city-county Executive Director Connie Ternes-Daniels said. “They’re not coming through with the final settlements to make our community whole.”

Ternes-Daniels said that if the course closes, she will demand that Arco remove the waste underneath the course.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.