Behind the scenes, Gardner city staff continues discussion on the Gardner Golf Course’s future.
“An RFP for Master Planning Services for the golf course is currently being drafted,” said Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo, communications manager. A request for proposal (RFP) is a type of bidding to determine funding is available for a particular project or program.
In March, the parks department began planning for a scope of service for a Proposal for Master Planning at the direction of the city council. The plan is to be a phased in project with public input and should assist in making an educated decision regarding the course’s future.
“A ‘golf course master plan’ is simply the common term for a renovation or improvement program at an existing golf course,” said Chris Morrow, mayor.  “At Gardner’s publicly owned course, a completed master plan will likely be the culmination of a series of information exchanges between a golf course architecture firm, Gardner citizens, golfers, the parks and recreation advisory committee, the planning commission, and the governing body.
At a February town hall meeting, about 88 percent of those in attendance indicated they would like the course to continue, and about 81 percent said they had golfed on the course.
The Gardner Golf Course is an 18 hole, 129.69 acre property owned by the city. The course has been maintained by a private party under a 30 year operating agreement since 1988. Gardner has began the process of deciding what to do with the property when the current agreement expires in August 2018.
.” I look forward to seeing what the RFP for planning services looks like, as well as the eventual RFP submissions,” Morrow said. “ In the end the governing body will likely only be involved when it is time to take action. Whether that be approving the RFP, the selection of the firm to conduct the master plan, and when it is completed we will consider, discuss, and vote on whether or not to approve the plan. “
For the past 30 years, Gardner has collected two percent of the green fees from the course.  The city received $3,122.42 in 2014 and $2,256.11 in 2015. A presentation at the February town hall by then park director Jeff Stewart, said green fees nationwide had been in steady decline.
When Stewart resigned for a job with the county, members of the parks advisory board were told Parks Superintendent Sanchez would be the point person regarding the course.
One advantage the Gardner golf course has over many other courses is that irrigation costs are low, due to the water being drawn from nearby Gardner Lake. The course is not charged for the untreated water.
A disadvantage is that the course has not seen much in the way of improvements over the years and because of that, its reputation may have suffered among area golfers.
There were many options for the future of the property. At this stage decisions need to be made on which direction the public wants to go.
Options include continuing as a golf course only, with renovations, course improvements and new updated facilities.
The course could be reduced to nine holes and become a combination of golf and other types of development.
Or golf could be eliminated entirely, and the property sold for residential or other use.
The purpose of the February town hall was to collect some public input on these questions.
At the conclusion of Stewart’s February presentation, the attendees were polled on a number of questions. Electronic “clickers” were distributed which tallied responses and provided instant results.
Participants were asked if they had ever played golf at the course at any time during its existence; 86 percent said “yes.”
About 88 percent responded that they would like to see the course remain as an 18 hole golf only course; 61 percent wanted to see a master plan developed for major improvements and updates to the course, while 34 percent indicated a preference for only minor improvements.
Questions and comments were taken at the end of the meeting.