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City evaluating golf course plan

The city’s golf course committee is still digging into the details of Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation’s plan for Mississippi National Golf Links and said Monday it is not yet ready to make a recommendation to the council.

One of the key sticking points is money.

“We appreciate there was a lot of detail in the proposal but what we didn’t find was a lot of numbers,” Council President Lisa Bayley said.

The committee wants more details on what kind of funds RWMGC wants the city to invest into capital work, equipment (such as for the kitchen) and repairs at the course.

And that needs to happen before the council can decide whether to move forward with the plan, golf course committee members said.

“There’s some negotiation or more talking that needs to happen before we accept it,” Council member Jason Sebion said.

Bayley said some members of the RWMGC group and public works staff plan to go through the course and specifically identify what projects need to get done, what work the city would be expected to do and how much it would cost.

“I think the walkthrough will be very crucial,” Sebion said.

Bayley said that will happen before the Oct. 28 council meeting and the golf course committee also will meet again and likely will be able to make a recommendation to the council whether to move forward once it has some costs in mind and other questions answered.

“We just need to see some better numbers to really understand what we’d be looking at, what we’d be asking our council, the city and our citizens to do,” Council member Marilyn Meinke said.

RWMGC was the only respondent to the city’s request for proposals for MNGL. And the committee wanted to know why.

“We were very curious about why we only received one response to this request for proposals,” Bayley said, so they asked consultant Jeff Schoenbauer, who helped develop the RFP to talk with the nine other parties who were interested about why they did not submit plans.

General themes, according to a report, included the fact that a 36-hole or even 27-hole course was not economically viable, the risk was high to make the venture profitable, a yearly subsidy could be needed and the size and layout of the course would be difficult to manage.

More groups might have been interested in operating the course under a management approach versus a lease, the report added.

While the RWMGC would manage the course, it would not charge a fee to the city, unlike other such agreements, Bayley noted.

The group is also a nonprofit, so some of those concerns would not apply.

“It’s good constructive criticism but it doesn’t encourage the city to say there’s somebody (else) out there who’s interested,” Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said of the feedback.

The golf course committee agreed, Bayley said, and decided to keep looking into the RWMGC plan.

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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