MNGL summer plans hazyOptions to open Mississippi National Golf Links this summer are now even more limited.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Options to open Mississippi National Golf Links this summer are now even more limited.
The local nonprofit Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation told the Red Wing City Council on Monday it could not run the course for one year, as the city’s golf course committee had suggested.
“Our board has come to the clear conclusion that such a proposal is simply not financially feasible,” RWMGC member Bob Tjossem said.
The cost to lease equipment, for example, is significantly higher for one year than for five, the term the nonprofit had suggested. It would be impossible to recoup the costs that quickly, he said.
“We wish we could make the numbers work. We don’t want to see the course shut down,” Tjossem said. “It’s not a matter of the nonprofit not wanting to operate the course, it simply isn’t feasible on a one-year basis.”
The City Council is looking for a temporary solution to keep Mississippi National open this summer while a long-term plan is worked out. Part of the complication is a pending lawsuit.
“Because there are still legal issues that are unsettled we are proceeding in two parallel tracks here,” Council President Lisa Bayley said.
The city owns the 36-hole course and leased it to operator Wendell Pittenger, who closed it last fall.
Mediation is scheduled for Feb. 13. If the issue is not settled, a jury trial is set for Aug. 19.
In the meantime, the council felt it had to move forward at least for the coming golf season, Bayley said.
“We are very aware that we need to make a decision on this coming year quickly,” she said.
Bayley said again Monday if the course were to be open this summer the RWMGC group probably would have to run it because there isn’t time to search for another operator.
“I’m personally sorry … to hear the one-year option is off the table,” she said.
Council member Ralph Rauterkus suggested looking into a city employee or contractor temporarily running the course.
Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said the city has received a number of calls and contact ranging from offering advice to proposing to buy the course.
Kuhlmann said staff is keeping that information on file for when the council decides what it wants to do with the course in the long-term.
The council took one step Monday for the future of the course. Members unanimously approved an application to the county to make the property tax exempt for 2014. The deadline for the application is Feb. 1, but the status can be updated through the end of June if the situation changes, Planning Director Brian Peterson said.
“We thought that it would be prudent to make this application right now based on the information we have right now,” he said, but if the course is leased, sold or other changes are made it can be updated accordingly.
The property was taxed before because it was leased to a for-profit operator.
The city already will have to pay more than $31,000 in taxes and fees left by Pittenger for 2012 as well as about $55,000 in taxes for this year.