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Proposals sought for MNGL

The City Council approved a Mississippi National Golf Links request for proposals Monday and decided submissions should be available to the public before the council makes a decision.

The RFP asks potential proposers to include a plan for a 36-hole course and also allows for other configurations. Proposals must include many details including plans for public involvement, use of the clubhouse, marketing, organizational structure and more.

The RFP is expected to be released at the end of this week and a mandatory pre-proposal meeting and site visit is set for Aug. 30. Proposals are due by Sept. 27.

They will be made public as soon as possible after that, the council decided Monday night.

State statute says the proposals would become public, but only after the council chooses one, city attorney Jay Squires said. The city has the option to move that up, requiring potential proposers to sign a consent form stating the information will be public sooner, he said.

Council members decided to make the proposals public after the deadline — so there cannot be any changes — but before the city makes a final decision.

"I'm asking for transparency here," Council member Dean Hove said in raising the issue.

The council originally voted 4-3 to accept the RFP with some minor changes, which did not include the public timeline shift. Council members Hove, Mike Schultz and Jason Sebion voted no.

But later in the meeting Council President Lisa Bayley asked to reconsider the issue and suggested making the proposals public earlier as Hove had said.

"I guess I would rather us have that conversation publically," Bayley said. Proposers cannot contact council members after the submission deadline, and she said while revealing the proposals might open the council up to lobbying for specific plans — a concern Council member Peggy Rehder raised earlier in the meeting — the discussion should be open.

"I'm going to take them with a grain of salt," Bayley said of public comments. "But I'm open to hearing what other people have to say."

Trade secrets would be protected in the public documents.

The council approved the RFP and public release of proposals on a unanimous voice vote.

City council members also separately approved funding to get MNGL ready for the winter so it could reopen for the next golf season.

The cost of the contract with Turf Solutions and Management will cost $40,400 or $46,504 depending on equipment vendors, according to a staff report.

"This would definitely put us over the golf course budget," Public Works director Rick Moskwa said.

The actual contract will come before the council at a future meeting, he said.

Council members said while they haven't made a decision yet about the course's future, the preparation is necessary if they want to consider opening it next year.

"We have to have the option to be ready," Council member Ralph Rauterkus said.

The council also decided to move forward with a citizen survey that includes a handful of questions specifically aimed at Mississippi National alongside several others asked during every survey for comparison.

Council members have said they want the results back before making a final decision on MNGL proposals.

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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