Golf course estimate veers into rough |

Golf course estimate veers into rough

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A $2 million increase in the cost of a proposed municipal golf course here could strengthen the push to put it to a public vote, City Councilman Dave Merritt said Friday.

Also, delays in the completion of the golf course design could force Glenwood Meadows commercial developer Miller Weingarten to start building a debris flow basin before city officials know if the golf course will be approved.

Golf course cost

Cost estimates for the proposed 18-hole golf course have increased by 25 percent since the conceptual design was presented by Phelps Golf Course Design of Evergreen in March.

At City Council’s conceptual review in March, Phelps designers said the course would cost around $8 million, but Merritt said revised estimates show that the cost has risen to $10 million.

Although the final figures haven’t yet been publicly released by Phelps Golf Course Design, Merritt said the $2 million cost increase could further underscore the need for a public vote on the golf course and other recreational amenities proposed as part of the golf course package.

Merritt said he wasn’t sure if the cost increase would prompt the city to borrow more money or cut some of the added amenities promised by City Council, such as the whitewater park.

Merritt and City Councilwoman Jean Martensen said details on the golf course design – which itself cost $235,000 – and estimated construction costs will be released at a special City Council meeting on Nov. 5.

A preliminary decision on whether to move forward with the golf course could be made at council’s Dec. 4 regular meeting.

Debris flow basins

One problem faced by the city is that the debris flow basin planned by Glenwood Meadows developers is incompatible with the “tank traps” that would be needed for the golf course, Martensen said.

Tank traps are an alternative and more costly type of debris flow catchment system. While a debris flow basin would be one or two long, deep trenches, tank traps would be a series of smaller debris basins designed as part of the golf course with aesthetics in mind.

Either system would capture the mud and debris expected to run off Red Mountain during a severe thunderstorm.

Even if the golf course design wins preliminary council approval in December, Merritt said the plan won’t be considered by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission until February or March, followed by a formal City Council approval in March or April.

Then, even if the golf course receives official approval, bids must be taken and certificates of participation – the proposed funding method – must be sold, delaying construction of the course and tank traps further.

“The problem is, the decision time frame between the city and Miller Weingarten is no longer on the same path,” Merritt said.

Miller Weingarten officials insist that a debris flow basin must be completed by May 2004 so construction of commercial buildings, which are slated to include Target and Lowe’s stores, can begin.

“They want to start construction in May or June, but we’re in a longer decision time frame,” Merritt said. “They’re on a tight time frame now. They want to have these stores open by summer 2005.”

Debris flow liability

Yet another factor playing into the decision is whether the city wants to take on responsibility and liability for the debris flow system.

If the basin is built by Glenwood Meadows, the developer will be responsible for its maintenance and would assume liability.

If a municipal golf course is built uphill from the Meadows development, the city would take over maintenance of the debris flow basins and any liability associated with them, Merritt said.

At Thursday night’s regular City Council meeting, Councilman Rick Davis expressed concern over scheduling problems.

“It seems to me that in light of timing, in light of what the budgets are, in light of design and in light of everything else that has to be seen, Miller Weingarten should just be told to go forward with the tank trap proposal . and deal with the golf course as not even part of the picture,” he said.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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