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side and the other side of the Capitol, have held over a period of years concerning the golf courses. The most recent hearing was quite an extended hearing before the House Committee on Public Lands this past year.
You have available to you all the testimony that took place there.
It has been the consensus of each one of these committees of Congress, both in the House and in the Senate, that the Recreation Board was a proper agency to administer these facilities; that we were equipped to do it and that we should have them.
I think much of the problem attendant to this public golf will be eliminated when our Board is able to operate. We are a public board, a lay board. We have no personal financial interest.
We even recommend that when we operate these courses we be compelled to рау. . We do not want any special privileges for anyone, including ourselves.
This is a good business proposition from a money standpoint, but it is also good in the public interest, which is more important. It will pay big dividends in public health and recreation for people of all ages. .
I may say that even the threat in the last year or 2 years that we might take them over, and the criticism that the Board has leveled at the Leoffler management-you will have introduced by Mr. Schwab a memorandum and a Board report showing the inadequacies of the golf-course management in the last several years—those criticisms have accomplished a great deal. Much of the criticisms have been replied to by correction. Much of the money has been spent that we complained about being held and not being spent on the golf courses. Many of the tings we thought should be done such as the golf clinics for the young people and the public golfers, have been established.
There is a great deal more than can be done only by a public board. We think we can do it. We believe it is our obligation under law to do just that. ! We do not know of the slightest opposition on the part of any public or private agency in Washington, any civic group whatever, opposed to the Board's operating the golf courses.
As a matter of fact, the trend nationally and everywhere—Chicago, Akron, Baltimore, wherever you want to look-is such that you will find that in virtually no city in America do we have a situation such as appears here. The golf courses are recognized as a public facility just as the playgrounds are. They are operated and maintained by the public recreation agency. In some instances, the concessionsthe food concessions and other concessions of the golf courses-may be operated by a private concessioner under the jurisdiction of the recreation agency. That is possible for us. We have not yet detarmined whether our Board will find it cumbersome or complex or dificult to operate the concessions of the golf courses. That is something that must be left with the Board.
We would prefer to have our hands free at the outset to determine whether it would be more profitable and more in the public interest to do that, as is done in a great many cities.
A team this past year composed of representatives of our Board and of the Budget Office of the District of Columbia visited several American cities where the golf courses are notably good and where the operation is excellent. This team visited these cities and made a
careful analysis of the manner in which the golf courses are operated. They found some differences in the way the courses were operated, in that some did operate concessions and others did not. They returned with a good deal of information, and brought that information back
It will serve as a backlog of information to guide us in our operation here.
We do find, however, that wherever you go and wherever there is good golf management on the part of the city-owned golf courses that the recreation agency is the one which does it. They provide the best golf at the lowest prices, and have less public criticism.
With those comments, Mr. Chairman, I would be glad to answer any inquiries, but also to say that Mr. Schwab and Mr. Christiansen are qualified and equipped to give you any information you may want regarding our 8 years and more of study of this entire problem which brings us to you this morning.
OPERATION OF CONCESSIONS
Mr. Wilson. I do not have any particular question to ask the present witness. I might add a comment.
There are concessions which I think you would see fit to lease out. I do not think the Government could possibly go in and operate the food concessions cheaper than they could be leased, and give the quality of service.
Mr. WENDER. May I say, sir, that I personally am in agreement with you,
but that I would not want at the outset to state that we were going to do this or do that.
Mr. Wilson. I understand.
Mr. WENDER. In other words, we do not want to handicap our own operation. We would get a flood immediately of demands and requests on the part of every kind of operator to come in.
Mr. Wilson. I can understand why you would want as free a hand as you could possibly have. There are other factors involved which I think are pretty important, and pretty much in agreement with what you have said in regard to recreation facilities for the District of Columbia. I think your recreation facilities are fine as far as they go. I think those utilized and administered by your Department are pretty good. The poorest of all are the golf courses which are under private operation. Up until publicity was given Mr. Leoffler a year or two ago, I played at the Anacostia course. In fact, that is where I learned to play golf. We had poor service over there. You lost your balls on the fairway about as fast as you could hit them out there. The conditions of the course were inexcusable. All the time he was piling up a fortune at the expense of the people of the District of Columbia who had to play the public golf courses.
Since the big fuss has been raised over that—and I think rightly so for which a lot of credit must go to Mendel Rivers—there has been quite a change. The fairways are kept mowed. They have drained No. 3 and No. 15 fairways over at Anacostia, and they now keep them mowed; also, the greens are kept in better shape. Much better service is offered now.
Mr. BATEs. Thank you.
ATTITUDE OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Mr. Bates. Mr. Young, if you do not mind telling us, I would like to get your reaction to the plan to take the golf courses over.
Commissioner JOHN RUSSELL Young. Mr, Chairman, we have a very high regard for the Recreation Board. They have done a wonderful job. We are in accord with approving the administration of the golf courses.
However, we do have a mental reservation, as Mr. Wilson has said, about the operation of them. The other Commissioners can speak for themselves, of course.
We have had hearings with the Board, and they have pointed out to us just as they have to you this morning the facts of the matter. We have not yet approved that part of it.
Mr. YATES. What part of it? Commissioner John RUSSELL Young. Operating them themselves. Mr. YATES. You are thinking in terms of a private lease to somebody else again?
Commissioner JOHN RUSSELL YOUNG. We had that mental reservation in that connection. It might be better to give it out to a concessioner.
Mr. Yates. Even in view of the Leoffler experience?
Commissioner John RUSSELL Young. They, no doubt, have made a very fine deal with the Department of the Interior. They should be highly commended.
The other two Commissioners can speak for themselves. We still are a little reluctant about the Government operating them. It is a question of whether we will approve that money to buy this equipment and apparatus. We put it in the supplemental appropriation with the feeling that, even if we did not approve it, finally we could take it out.
I think they should administer it. They have done a fine job on everything they have administered. We have a fine group of men on the Board.
Mr. BATEs. Do you have any comments on that, Mr. Mason?
Mr. Bates. You are inclined to go along with Mr. Young on his explanation.
Mr. YATES. In spite of the fact that your justification shows that on the public golf courses throughout the country of the 340 municipal golf courses only 7 are leased to a private operator.
Mr. CHRISTIANSEN. That is right.
Mr. Yates. Would that not seem to indicate that the great preponderance of these courses are being operated by municipalities, and that that is the way it should be done? Certainly, if they had been causing tax losses and if they had not been able to carry themselves, the municipalities would have looked around for someone to lease them; would they not?
Commissioner JOHN RUSSELL YOUNG. That sounds convincing; yes.
Mr. YATES. Those are the statistics presented in your justification. They made an impression on me. I was not aware that the number was as preponderant as it is.
Mr. FOWLER. It is a growing number, but the one thing that disturbs the Commissioners is the rules and regulations governing our employment. You have time and a half for overtime and double time for holidays, and you have a night differential for working at night. You have all these retirement benefits. The other municipalities do not have as many of those.
Mr. YATES. That is true of every golf course. I am a member of a golf club in the city of Chicago. I know that all those benefits are given to the employees of the golf club. If you have some people turning on the water pipes at night they get a 10-percent bonus for the night work. Mr. FOWLER. If they have the same benefit that is all right.
I understand, also, that the private concessionaire would be forced, under the Interior Department's rules, to also have those same benefits. It may be that that argument is dissipated.
The only other thing that disturbed the Commissioners was the agreement between the Interior Department and the Recreation Board. In this matter we have to be governed by an agreement. That is a thing I think the committee should carefully consider. " That is why we brought in the Corporation Counsel.
The Commissioners want to be assured that that agreement is perfectly satisfactory with this committee and the Congress.
OWNERSHIP OF THE GOLF COURSES
Mr. YATES. These courses are now owned by the Department of the Interior; is that right?
Mr. FOWLER. I would not say they are owned, because the District has a considerable amount of money in some of these courses, too. I think perhaps some of them are really owned by us, but titled to the United States.
Mr. YATES. What is the distinction you make?
Mr. YATES. The reason I asked my question is this: Why should the Department of the Interior be able to set the conditions unless they do own the courses?
Mr. FOWLER. Of course, they have the fee simple title in the United States, and they operate and have jurisdiction. Having jurisdiction, of course, they have the say about it. They do run it even though we may have contributed in the past and may continue to contribute.
The only way we can get into the picture at all now is on an agreement. That is a written agreement. I do not know whether it is written in the specifications or not.
The Commissioners were a little disturbed about that.
Mr. FOWLER. We want to know that the agreement is perfectly satisfactory.
Then we were disturbed about the working capital fund, and how it should operate. We have this proposed language on page 21. I think that language is favorable to the Commissioners.
I am a member of the Recreation Board, also. I think some of the others may have some questions about that language. This thing will have to be worked out. It is not a small business. It is a big business so far as we are concerned.
ANALYSIS OF OPERATIONS
Mr. YATES. May I ask whether a comparative analysis has been made between the operation by the Leofiler Co. and the proposed operation by the Recreation Board to determine whether or not the operation by the District will be more expensive than that of Leoffler?
Mr. FOWLER. They have been working on that for a long time, and Mr. Schwab can answer those questions. Until very recently only were we able to get any information at all.
Mr. YATES. From Mr. Leoffler?
Mr. Fowler. That was hidden, and we just could not get it. Now, they have been more cooperative, and I think we have a fairly good breakdown showing just what his operating cost is.
Mr. SCHWAB. At this time I would like to bring out the fact that the only difference between our operation and Leoffler's as regards the cost of labor is that Mr. Leoffler will have an advantage of about $10,000 for the next year. After that he would have to comply with the Federal regulations on employment and pay the same as Government.
Mr. YATES. Has he not been doing that?
Mr. SCHWAB. No. He is right now, but he has not in the past. Next year he can hire labor for 44 hours instead of 40, but starting with 1952, I think it is, he has to hire them on a 40-hour week. figure that is about a $10,000 differential, that he would have an advantage over us for the first year. That is all. After that we would be on an even keel with him.
We would not run into much overtime, for the reason that we would space the hours of employment to take care of that. We do not have lots of employees.
Mr. Bates. Let us begin with your justification, Mr. Christiansen.
GENERAL BACKGROUND OF ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC GOLF COURSES
Mr. CHRISTIANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
By way of emphasis I would like to call the attention of the committee to the extensive hearings that were held when this Board was created. I am not going into the exact details, but before you we have bound copies of approximately 400 pages of testimony taken during a 5-week interval, 59 pages of which are devoted entirely to criticism of the administration of the public golf courses in the District of Columbia. That was during the time when this Board was being created to unify public recreation.
The Board was unable to take over the golf courses back in 1942 and 1943 because it was a new organization. During the interim we have given considerable thought to this whole picture.
As you know, last year quite an intensive investigation was made by Chairman Redden's committee of the House Public Lands Committee, in which we all had an opportunity to present our views. We were asked whether or not we thought we could do the job. At