By Bernard Brown
This story was updated after publication with a quote from the Mayor’s Office.
It looks like the already sweet deal that the Cobbs Creek Foundation made with the city could be getting even sweeter.
On March 30 Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released his capital budget proposal for fiscal year 2023, which, on page 147, included $1.5 million for “major improvements to [the] Cobbs Creek Golf Course,” as well as a proposal for another $1.5 million in fiscal year 2024.
The foundation, a private organization with strong ties to billionaire James Maguire, was formed in order to renovate and administer the Cobbs Creek and Karakung golf courses, and is slated to pay the city $1 for a 30-year lease of the land, which has been assessed at $92 million.
The expectation stated in the lease is that the foundation will raise the estimated $65 million necessary to renovate the course. The document reads, “Starting on the Effective Date, Tenant shall use its best faith efforts to reach its fund-raising goal of fully funding the Initial Renovations Budget.
Tenant may fund the Initial Renovations Budget by obtaining private donations and grants and from other sources.”
Grid asked the Mayor’s Office why his budget is proposing that $3 million in taxpayer dollars go to a project that is supposed to be fully funded by the foundation’s fundraising.
A representative from the Mayor’s Office responded by email. “The funding will support the creation of a wetlands at the site and creek restoration projects that will deliver much needed protection against flooding for the Cobbs Creek area. The Cobbs Creek Foundation has committed at least $65 million to the Cobbs Creek Golf Course restoration project. The City capital funding will supplement the Foundation’s investment in the wetlands and creek restoration projects at Cobbs Creek.”
However, the lease seems to state that the responsibility for stormwater management belonged to the Cobbs Creek Foundation. “Tenant shall perform the following improvements to the Premises… at Tenant’s sole cost and expense:… Tenant shall make improvements in and around Cobbs Creek to reduce the frequency and severity of the creek’s flooding, including creating up to 50 acres of wetlands in the Wetlands Area.”