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Bacon Park deadline approaching

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The potential future of the Bacon Park Golf Course will become clearer by Tuesday afternoon.

All proposals for the management contract at Bacon Park must be submitted to the City of Savannah by 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and that will start the process of selecting the next management group.

This is the second time the city has asked for proposals to succeed EDR, Inc., which is giving up the contract after 16 years. The first time proposals were requested, two were entered, but one was rejected for not meeting criteria and the other was withdrawn.

To be considered, bids will have to meet certain requirements from the city, including how that group would plan to improve the course. Once accepted, all proposals will be studied by a committee, which will give its recommendation to the city manager and city council.

Savannah Leisure Services director Joe Shearhouse hopes to have several to choose from.

"There have been at least four that have expressed serious interest, meaning that you can gauge that they're interested when you continue to get questions,'' said Shearhouse. "So there have been at least four vendors who have come back and asked for clarifications, asked different questions we hadn't thought of. Now, that being said, I'll be happy to get two, because that will make it competitive. But we would consider if there's only one.''

O.C. Welch has confirmed that he will enter a proposal for the management contract.

The Savannah native learned to play golf at Bacon Park, had his first job there and continued to play the course after he had become successful in business.

He says his desire to take over now is not necessarily a business decision.

"It's all from my heart, it's not from my wallet,'' says Welch. "My wallet will help get it done, but it's from my heart. I'm just trying to give something back to the community, that place gave so much to so many for so long and it needs a lot of help right now.''

Shearouse expects the successful proposal will be selected by early January, in time to take over for EDR, whose contract expires Feb. 28, 2014.

When eventually awarded, the new management contract will be for 12 years.

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