OLD AVALON GOLF New company wants course

The city has resisted selling its golf course asset.
WARREN -- A new management company with direct ties to the Avalon Inn aims to breathe new life this year into the city-owned Old Avalon Golf course.
The 18-hole public course established in 1928 runs along East Market Street to state Route 82. Opening day is April 18.
The management change putting a new company, called Old Avalon Golf LLC, in charge was announced at the course Wednesday by Mayor Michael O'Brien. The company's president is John Kouvas.
"The public can make their plans for their golf leagues and golf recreation at this course," O'Brien said.
Across East Market, the Avalon Inn and its indoor resort amenities were sold in December for $2 million to A.I.R. Management Group LLC, also headed by Kouvas.
Staying the course
The golf course is the next phase of Kouvas' venture. The city, however, continues to resist selling its golf course asset. "We have no interest in selling the course," O'Brien said.
Tony Joy's Avalon South Management had run the golf course for the city, which in good years received about $76,000 in annual profits from it. Lately the revenue has slid because of adverse publicity and uncertainty about the course's operation, O'Brien and city Law Director Greg Hicks said.
Now, the Old Avalon Golf course "will be our preferred package with the hotel," explained John Cataffa, the Avalon Inn's marketing director and spokesman for the new course management. Avalon Inn is not affiliated with the adjacent Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
Old Avalon Golf LLC is starting from scratch. The clubhouse is empty, and the company must quickly get new golf carts and turf equipment, plus make drainage improvements, Cataffa said.
On board as director of golf is Delmar Campbell; overseeing the course daily are Tom Ross and Lou Greco. Together they have more than 60 years of involvement in the local golf community, Cataffa said.
The city views all of this as very positive but concedes the course needs some tender loving care.
"It's not a liability to the city and actually will enhance the area, enhance the community," O'Brien said of the course Warren acquired in the 1960s from the chamber of commerce.
Litigation continues
Although the management change can occur at the golf course now, litigation in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court between the city and Avalon South Management continues, Hicks said.
The city tried to evict Joy from the course in February 2002, citing unpaid rental fees and property taxes, failure to pay a bank loan and failure to maintain liability insurance. Joy sued for breach of contract, contending officials told him he would be credited for improvements he made to the facility, which includes the clubhouse, and that in 1988, the city's safety-service director told him he would not have to pay property taxes.
Hicks explained that a clause in the contract between the city and Avalon South Management allows it to be assigned to another party -- in this case Kouvas' new company. All three are parties to the agreement.
No one involved would comment on whether any money changed hands as part of the deal, or any eventual court settlement. Atty. Rick Schwartz, Joy's attorney, declined to comment.
Although Old Avalon Golf and A.I.R. Management are separate entities, their relationship is very close.
A.I.R. Management bought the hotel from Avalon Inn Services Inc. According to Trumbull County records, the market value of the commercial property is $3.48 million, which includes $274,500 in land and $3,206,400 in improvements, such as buildings. It had been leasing the inn for several months before the purchase.
Acquired were the Avalon Inn at 9519 E. Market St., and its lounge, meeting rooms, pool house, hotel addition and health spa. The sale covered 8.28 acres.