City calls on curlers, golfersThe Two Harbors City Council on Monday reiterated its desire to see fixes as time allows this fall at Lakeview National Golf Course and make sure the instructions of the turf expert it retained this month are followed until the course is closed for the winter.
The Two Harbors City Council on Monday reiterated its desire to see fixes as time allows this fall at Lakeview National Golf Course and make sure the instructions of the turf expert it retained this month are followed until the course is closed for the winter.
“Things need to happen,” council member Jason Kuettel said.
While Kyle Ness and Associates is still under contract to care for the course, the council wanted to make sure recommendations from Duluth public golf course supervisor Jud Crist are followed. The city hired Crist earlier this month after Ness closed nine holes on the course due to turf problems.
At a meeting with Ness and groundskeeper Nate VanSanten last week, the council discussed forming a committee made up of golfers in the community and others to find solutions for the care of the course and the annual financial hole the city finds itself in.
Kuettel scuttled that idea Monday in favor of a “task force” of council members and the presidents of the men’s and women’s golf clubs and Two Harbors Curling Club. Kuettel said time is the factor in creating a smaller group to get some ideas to the council about how the course can stay open next year despite severe budget limitations.
“If we want a therapy group, that’s fine,” Kuettel said, but he wants the task force to take a hard look at finances and make formal presentations to the council.
Kuettel also made a motion to push city administration to “pursue all reasonable alternatives for funding and report to the in two weeks.” The council passed the measure and discussed what might be the next steps at the course.
Ness volunteered to terminate his contract with the city in order to negotiate a better setup for care of the course. He told the council last week that he could save money while gaining better supervision over groundskeeping.
VanSanten said he has been hamstringed by funding for items needed at the course, such as parts for an irrigation system that failed in July.
The city would have to give Ness 60 days notice on termination. Simply “re-opening” his contract would keep him in service until April. Council members debated the timing on how to handle Ness’s contract. He has indicated he would like to be back managing the course next spring, council member Chris Swanson said.
Any fixes to the turf this fall and next spring will come out of the contractor’s budget.
Another issue for the council is who will ultimately have control over the clubhouse and its proceeds. The Two Harbors Curling Club has been negotiating with the city for more than a year on taking full ownership of the grounds the club sits on, along with the golf course operation.
After a 1991 fire destroyed the curling club near where the fire hall now sits, the club and city made a land swap. The city purchased the curling club land for a nominal fee and, in turn, gave the club permission to put a new club up on the current site near the golf course. Because the city leases the land, it is ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the club. To avoid those costs, the city started negotiating last year for the club to buy the property outright.
But it would need proceeds from the sale of merchandise and alcohol at the golf course clubhouse to make the venture work, curling club president Rick Osbakken said. Without that revenue, he said, the club would have a difficult time keeping up with the fixes required at the club.
“We need that money-maker,” Osbakken said. He expects upkeep at the curling club and pro shop to cost from $50,000 to $100,000.
The city council wants to set an agreement with the curling club so it can know how to approach the golf course management deal for next year. Ness and Associates now runs the pro shop and takes in the proceeds.
“They’ve got ice in three weeks,” said council member Steve Detlefsen said of the curling club season, reminding the council again that it needs to act quickly and decisively on the operations at the club and the golf course.