After more than 60 years, the Victoria Parks Improvement Association will stop running the Riverside Golf Course for the city July 1.

Tuesday, Ken Miles, board president of the parks association, said the agency is going to terminate its lease July 1 and hand over golf course management to the city.

This comes after the association struggled for months to make ends meet, including facing difficulties with paying back debts to the city and a local bank.

"The board has agreed to work with the city of Victoria to make this a smooth transition," Miles said in a news release.

Victoria resident Jack Gilbert is hopeful the golf course will improve under city management.

"It's just a really irreplaceable asset to the city," said Gilbert, 64, who's been playing on the course for about 20 years.

When Gilbert was growing up in Victoria, he remembers his friends' parents playing at the course, he said. Decades later, he hopes the city will continue to offer residents course fees that they can afford.

"My hope is that it will continue on like it is," Gilbert said.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, City Manager Charmelle Garrett said the city is working to ensure the golf course will stay open for Victoria residents.

It's currently unclear how things such as memberships and fees could change, but the city eventually plans to allow companies to compete in a public bid process to manage the golf course, she said.

"We're developing a plan on what that's going to look like (during) the transition," said Garrett, adding that the city's parks department will manage the golf course in the meantime.

The golf course is owned by the city but is managed by the Victoria Parks Improvement Association.

The parks association recently closed nine of the course's 27 holes to reduce maintenance costs.

The parks association has been dealing with financial challenges since early 2016, according to the association. In November, the organization reported that it owed a local bank $160,000 and had a remaining balance of $180,000 on a $382,000 loan from the city.

Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek said the association made a difficult decision to end the lease, but the city aims to improve the course after taking it over.

"My goal and hope is that we keep the course functioning and it gets better over time," said Polasek. "I think it's a great community asset."

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Marina writes about housing, Hurricane Harvey recovery and local politics for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach Marina by emailing mriker@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter, @MarinaStarleaf.

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