Golfers’ dream falls short of the green |

Golfers’ dream falls short of the green

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Plans for a municipal golf course at the base of Red Mountain have been shelved.

City manager Mike Copp confirmed Wednesday that increased cost estimates to build the golf course, along with the election of city councilmen who oppose borrowing money for the course without a public vote, doomed the project.

The original estimate to build the course was $8 million, and more recent estimates put the cost at more than $10 million.

“It’s pretty much on hold,” Copp said. “We’ve got just about all the design features done, but pretty much everything’s on hold.”

The city paid $199,970 to Phelps Golf Course Design for the final blueprint ” or greenprint as the case may be ” for the golf course.

Unless a future council or a private company decides to build the course at its planned location on the alluvial fan above the future site of the Glenwood Meadows development, those plans will stay on the shelf, Copp said.

City leaders were under pressure from the developers of Glenwood Meadows to decide whether they were going to build a golf course. Representatives from Miller-Weingarten, the commercial development firm planning to start construction on stores this summer, gave the city a Jan. 1 deadline to make the decision.

Developers needed to know what was happening with the land above their project because it directly affected what kind of debris flow mitigation was to be built at the site.

With the city’s decision not to build the course, Meadows developers will go to their original plan of constructing “tank traps,” which are long linear trenches, so nicknamed by City Council because they will resemble the barriers dug in Iraq to stop coalition tanks from progressing toward Baghdad.

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Indefinite shelf life

Copp said the design will have a long shelf life, in case anyone ever decides to build a golf course above Meadows.

“As long as nothing else has gone there, which shouldn’t happen because it’s dedicated as parkland, the plans have a permanent shelf life,” he said.

Copp also said if a private golf course developer shows interest in building the course, he’d hand over the design for free.

“I’d be more than willing to give them the plans,” he said.

He said one stipulation is that the course would have to be fully public. If that were to happen, Copp said it’s likely that the city would lease the land out for next to nothing.

“We’d work out something where we’d have a percentage of it,” he said.

Copp said no private companies have shown any interest in developing the land into a golf course.

“Cities can borrow monies at a cheaper rate, and it makes it more feasible,” he said.

Copp said it’s likely that the hill could be made into a sledding area, and it’s also possible the city could put a driving range there.

“Mostly what we’re looking at is a sledding hill,” he said.

Opponents’ reactions

Plans for building a municipal golf course met with some stiff resistance during 2003. Like other contentious issues last year, the political fracas over borrowing money for the course spawned a citizens group, called Citizens for Responsible City Spending.

The group was put together by Glenwood Springs residents Jan and Pat Girardot and Nancy Stevens.

The group didn’t specifically oppose the construction of a golf course, but rather borrowing millions of dollars without a vote of the people.

“I’m thrilled,” Stevens said when informed that the golf course plan was shelved. “I’m really glad that the majority basically won.”

Stevens suspects that the COPs issue was a major factor in the unseating of Councilmen Rick Davis and Don Gillespie by political newcomers ” and COPs opposers ” Larry Beckwith and Joe O’Donnell.

“I’m glad it wasn’t the powers-that-be that got their way, it was the citizens,” Stevens said. “All we really wanted was a vote, and indirectly, we got it.”

Pat Girardot said she also was happy to hear that the golf course won’t be built.

“I’m especially glad it got separated from the pool and other projects that are worthwhile,” she said. City officials planned to borrow more money to fund a pool at the Community Center.

Beckwith said he’s still not against building a golf course, but rather the method of funding that was proposed.

“Had we saved the money and went ahead and built it, that would have been fine,” he said. “Unless the voters had approved going into debt for it, I’m glad we’re not moving forward with it. We have a lot of other worthwhile projects we could do.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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