The Becker City Council convened Tuesday night and while usual business of reporting and approving resolutions occurred, the main issue discussed during and after the meeting was Pebble Creek.
The Pebble Creek golf task force — consisting of all five council members including the mayor — went around the horn discussing the pros and cons of four of the seven scenarios the city is considering for the future of the golf course.
The four scenarios were:
A). City operate the 27-hole course with no change to current operation (status quo);
B). City operate 27-hole course with department head running and making decisions;
C). City operate 18-hole course (eliminate one of the nine) with department head running and operating;
D). Switch designation of golf course from enterprise to general fund.
Chairman Adam Oliver stated the idea for Tuesday’s meeting was to only discuss the pros and cons of each scenario, then do a more thorough discussion at a later task force meeting after all scenarios have been considered.
As far as scenarios “A, B and C”, Member Tracy Bertram said her “pros” were it promotes the city, it brings in business, it’s an asset for future bonding, it’s a great employment option for youth and elderly, it’s being used by area businesses and it brings in outside population to Becker.
Her only “con” was the current funding situation the golf course is in.
Member Lynette Brannan is concerned about the properties lining the three nine-hole courses and how it would affect their property values should they shut one down.
Mayor Lefty Kleis said the current situation fo the golf course is unsustainable and Rick Hendrickson said he doesn’t see a return on investment in relation to the Master Plan improvements.
As far as scenario “B” goes, Brannan, Hendrickson and Bertram all agreed they’d like to see the golf pro making the decisions rather than the elected officials. Adam Oliver said having the golf pro make the decisions forces the city to put an investment number on the golf course.
As far as reducing the golf course to 18-holes, Brannan said it would mean less maintenance for the golf pro and staff. Mayor Kleis said selling the Red 9 — since housing doesn’t affect city residents, only township — would allow the city to put the money gained from the sale back into the 18-holes kept. Hendrickson agreed the city and golf course could see a financial savings by closing one of the nine holes.
The “cons” for closing one of the nines would be an affect on the property values of the homes that abut the golf course. Funding for capital improvements would decrease and bonding issues may result. And the potential of a class-action lawsuit by the homeowners who live on the nine that gets eliminated.
As far as scenario “D” goes, the pros would be the golf course would be treated equally like a recreational amenity such as the community center and parks and rec as far as funding. The cons would be the influx of paperwork needed to go through with such a change. The concern of “what to do” with the golf course in the future should Xcel Energy shut down or move away. And the citizens may have to be relied upon to bear the burden of funding the golf course through a higher tax levy.
“I don’t think this one reflects the feelings of many of our citizens,” said Hendrickson.
The final three scenarios — sale of the golf course with a deed restriction, hiring a management company and considering a non-profit corporation lease — will be poured over at the May 6 executive session.
More Golf Input
During the regular council meeting, several people spoke up about how they feel about the golf course and stated their opinions on what they think the task force and council should do.
Ed Broom of Becker said he is a business owner who specialized in marketing and sales over his 40+ years of working. Broom asked why the golf course doesn’t do a better job in their outside sales efforts. He says the city and golf course needs to have a plan to make Pebble Creek more viable and get the golf course sold out each and every weekend.
Dwight Lundeen talked about the fact he has been a resident of Becker for over 40 years and was one of the original supporters of building a golf course. Lundeen said there were three reasons they decided to have a golf course in Becker and that included giving the children of the area a great place to learn the game of golf and participate. He also said a golf course brings a certain quality of life to Becker and people move here to Becker because of the golf course.
Lundeen told council to not allow for the dollar figure to dictate their decision on the future of the golf course but rather think about the quality of life it brings to the area.
Lori Keller said just because the golf course is struggling right now — like a lot of other businesses coming out of a recession — it could become a “cash cow” for the city should things turn around in the next decade or so. She also said retaining the 27-holes gives the city a better marketing option as opposed to other 18-hole courses. She also said keeping the golf course as-is retains the original vision for the city.
Shelly Mattson said the golf course helps bring businesses to town and retain them and that it is an asset to the city.
• Sarah Brunn was announced as the new city treasurer, taking over for Corey Boyer who left a few months ago for a job in the private factor;
• Mayor Kleis read aloud a document proclaiming May 3 as Arbor Day and the month of May as Arbor month in the City of Becker;
• Police Chief Brent Baloun gave his annual report;
• Clerk Julie Blesi got approval to appoint 12 people as election judges for the primary and general elections this fall;
• A working foreman position was established with the streets department and Alan Foss was appointed to the job;
• The WWTF requested approval to spend $35,591 to construct and install a maintenance deck between two filter tanks to facilitate the removal of filters from the tanks;
• City Administrator Greg Pruszinske discussed the city’s 2014 goals which included the city’s vision, mission, key objectives, core values and key result areas.
The next Becker City Council meeting is May 6 at 5 p.m.