PORTLAND – The city’s publicly owned golf course unveiled a business plan Thursday that calls for initiatives including construction of a new clubhouse and a more effective plan for marketing the 27 holes.

Michael Bobinsky, Portland’s director of public services, said the business plan aims to make Riverside Municipal Golf Course more competitive with other courses in the area and increase its income to ensure that revenues pay for all operating costs.

A Facebook page was established this winter to promote events at the golf course, and the city plans to hire a consultant to review course operations and suggest improvements.

“We think that (hiring a consultant) will contribute to an increase in membership,” Bobinsky said.

Bobinsky, Gene Pierotti, Riverside’s superintendent, and Ryan Scott, the golf course manager, appeared before the City Council’s Finance Committee on Thursday to update councilors on their business plan.

Bobinsky said the plan hinges on better marketing and construction of a new clubhouse on the nine-hole South Course.

He said the new clubhouse, which is under review by the Planning Department, wouldn’t be elaborate — it would cost about $150,000 — but it would provide a much-needed amenity: public restrooms.

Riverside officials displayed a new television commercial that shows golfers teeing off. The commercial says the course was established in 1932.

Bobinsky said Riverside has purchased, at a cost of $2,634, more than 100, 30-second television commercials from Time Warner Cable that will air on ESPN, the Golf Channel, and NBC Sports Network from April 2 to June 17.

Those dates were selected to coincide with television coverage of several golf tournaments, including The Masters, the Players Championship and the U.S. Open.

“The notion of operating a municipal golf course in a sea of services can be questioned by the public,” Bobinsky said. “But, I think this (course) is something the public appreciates.”

Despite the course’s popularity, membership has fallen off, course officials say. Total memberships at the North and South Courses peaked in 2009, at 543. Bobinsky said memberships have declined to just over 400.

Betsy Sawyer Manter, treasurer for the Riverside Golf Association, said real estate brokers and construction managers — people who have suffered in the down economy — are just a few of the previous membership holders who could not afford memberships.

City Councilor John Anton, who chairs the Finance Committee, suggested that the association raise money to support a modest endowment fund for the golf course.

Such partnerships with the city have been successful in the past, he said.

Anton also recommended that golf course managers explore ways to improve the winter experience at Riverside, which is used extensively by skaters and cross country skiers.

He said equipment rentals might be a way to raise revenue.

Another committee member, Councilor Jill Duson, suggested that Riverside erect a yurt that could be used as a warming hut where hot cocoa could be sold.

“I think it would bring more people out. It is such a beautiful place to go when there is snow on the ground,” Duson said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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