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MNGL plans driving on

Red Wing City Council members are working on a formal process to gather proposals for Mississippi National Golf Links' future.

The council discussed the issue at its meeting Monday and generally agreed to continue developing a request for proposals. The formal process will allow the city to compare ideas and plans for the course, evaluate them more equally as applicants respond to the same questions and get a better idea of specifics, many members said.

"I think it's the most transparent and fair way to approach it," Council member Marilyn Meinke said.

The city plans to work with Springsted consulting and staff to develop an RFP or request-for-proposal document for discussion at the July 17 workshop on MNGL. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

After a council workshop earlier this month, the city's golf course committee met and started hammering out potential RFP requirements, Council President Lisa Bayley said.

They discussed necessary components applicants would need to include, such as what they would expect from the city, especially financially, plans for resident and youth involvement at the course, ideas for running the clubhouse, a plan to keep the course's books and other documents open to the public and ideas for running the course with different numbers of holes.

Council member Dean Hove said the proposal also needs to include what kind of compensation the city would get from the course and its revenues.

"I want to see a return on our taxpayer dollars," he said. "I don't want this to be a black hole."

Council member Ralph Rauterkus said a plan for the driving range, which is open this season while the rest of MNGL is shuttered, needs to be part of the process as well.

Some council members said an RFP for the sale of the course should be considered at the same time as leasing or other options.

"Nothing's been taken off the table," Bayley said, but added she did not think that was the direction the council was going. She said the sale option likely would have to be decided by a council vote.

City Council members will more fully flesh out the details during discussion at the July 17 workshop, Bayley said. If members come to a general consensus, the council could vote on an RFP at the July 22 meeting.

That would set out a likely timeline of responses in early September and a decision in late September, Bayley said.

Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation set Aug. 12 as the deadline for the City Council to approve in principle its five-year proposal to operate the course, the nonprofit said in a letter to council members.

Pending litigation still complicates the matter, council members noted. The RFP process and any proposal acceptance would be contingent upon the judge's decision in October on the legal issues.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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