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Debate continues on vision for MNGL

Red Wing City Council met Wednesday evening to discuss the details of a request for proposal to decide what to do with Mississippi National Golf Links. Council members largely agreed to move ahead with the process, but many of the specifics are still up for debate.

The workshop, a follow-up to plans discussed at the July 8 council meeting, was supposed to be a review of a preliminary RFP draft, but staff vacations at Springsted consulting prevented the document from being completed in time, Council President Lisa Bayley said.

Planning Director Brian Peterson and Finance Director Marshal Hallock said they worked with Springsted earlier in the week to review sample documents and at least come up with a timeline for the RFP process.

The proposed schedule would have the city release an RFP by mid-August, followed by a meeting with prospective candidates two weeks later.

"I think that's a logical thing to have a meeting and answer questions," Peterson told council members. "It would be an opportunity for everyone with questions to hear the same responses."

Depending on the status of ongoing litigation surrounding MNGL, City Council could then review the candidates and select a proposal as early as mid-October.

Although the court date for summary judgment on the case surrounding MNGL is set for October, the judge will have 90 days to make a decision, Peterson said. Meaning the city might not know what the judge decides until early next year.

The workshop then shifted gears into a debate over perceived public opinion on what to do with MNGL, as well as how the city would pay for it.

Council member Peggy Rehder said she was not satisfied that the city has properly gauged what citizens want.

"We know where a group of our very vocal citizens are at, but where taxpayers at large are, we really don't know," Rehder said.

Rehder suggested the city first come up with the exact costs needed to run the golf course, then issue a general obligation bond through referendum.

Council member Dean Hove disagreed, saying the council's many discussions with citizens and the non-profit group Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation is sufficient.

Council members also discussed whether MNGL should have 18 or 36 holes, as well as options for amenities offered on the course besides golf.

In the meantime, Hove said the city will need to spend money on the course to get it ready for winter if council members hope to open it next spring, including mowing the greens and putting down winter fertilizer.

Public Works Director Rick Moskwa said winterizing the course will cost an estimated $9,000, but could be higher if additional equipment is needed. The money would have to come out of the 2014 budget season.

Winterizing would need to begin sometime in September, Moskwa said, adding that Public Works would not go ahead with the process until the council was clear on its plan for the course.

The city's RFP draft is expected to be completed around Aug. 1. Council members could then review the proposal and potentially take action to release it to the public at a meeting Aug. 12.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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