Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Jan. 17 meeting of Gardner city council was attended by Gardner Lake residents who were interested in discussion on both the golf course and the lake dredging project.

Gardner Golf Course
A presentation on Gardner Golf Course was provided to council by Scott Garrie, parks and recreation director.
The course is owned by the city and operated by contract with a third party. The contract expires in 2018, and the city must decide what it’s future will be.
A town hall meeting was held in February, 2016, to gather public opinion on the future of the golf course and has been discussed at multiple council meetings throughout the year.
Garrie shared a consultant’s report prepared by a United States Golf Association (USGA) agronomist from a visit on Oct. 7, 2016. The 12 page report summarizes: that the course conditions are lacking by today’s standards. It cites undesirable conditions of turf, tees, fairways, rough, cart paths and the irrigation system. It also recommended removal of many trees.
Golf rounds played at the course have continued to decline, with 5,085 rounds played in 2015. Gardner Golf’s total lease payment to the city was $1831.
The report advises that there is no quick fix and that some of its recommendations may not be easy to implement and could take more than one season to produce results.
On Oct. 24, an irrigation design firm did a separate study focused exclusively on the course irrigation system.
The irrigation system report concludes: that there is no part of the system that is worth saving and recommends installation of a new irrigation system.
A risk management survey was conducted on Oct. 31. This inspection focused on the structures on the property, including the clubhouse, two maintenance structures, golf cart bridges and a restroom on the course.
The risk management survey found numerous discrepancies, including integrity of a golf cart bridge and serious structural integrity issues with maintenance buildings. It recommended use of the maintenance structures be discontinued until the issues are replaced or repaired.
In 2016, city staff indicated that a comprehensive master plan was being developed; however, the Jan. 17 recommendation indicated the course simply needs to be adequately maintained and does not need a comprehensive master plan at this time.
Garrie’s recommendation is for the city to move forward with Request For Proposal’s (RFP) to solicit a new operator/management entity.
If operation of the course were kept in house, Garrie said operating costs would be $1,000,000 each year.
In addition about $800,000 worth of equipment needs to be replaced and the irrigation system will cost over $1 million.
The RFP’s would seek a partner, who would share some or all costs of operation and construction of new facilities. Garrie said he had already been contacted by two entities with interest.
Lee Moore, council member, adding up all the costs said, “I’m thinking that we’re somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million to get us a golf course. Right now we have something that resembles a golf course.”
Chris Morrow, mayor, suggested adding activities that, unlike golf, can be played after sundown – such as a a driving range, miniature golf and concessions.
Moore asked if a minimum figure of investment would or should be set in the RFP. Garrie said he wouldn’t set a figure.
Garrie became parks and recreation director in August 2016. He wants to consider how the golf course will fit into and complement a much larger vision that potentially includes tourist attracting sports facilities.
Morrow told Garrie to work out the RFP with the city administrator and bring it back to council if necessary.

Gardner Lake dredging, spillway
Council approved dredging and spillway construction.

Police vehicle purchase
Council approved the purchase of three new 2017 Ford Police Interceptor Sport Utility vehicles and a Ford F-150 XL 4 x 4 Supercab for animal control. Total cost of the four completed vehicles was $105,655. The purchase was included in the 2017 budget.

Consent agenda
Lee Moore asked to have item # 1 removed from the consent agenda, which was approval of the minutes from the Jan. 23 meeting.
Motion was made and passed, to approve items # 2 to # 6.
Item # 2 approved December expenditures.
Item # 4 approved  purchase of one 2017 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercab for animal control at cost of $33,522.46.
Item # 5 approved a proposal for upgrades to the audio-visual system in council chambers in the amount of $73,717.30.
Item # 6 approved appointment of Kim Garrison to exercise duties of city clerk until a permanent clerk is appointed.
Returning to Item # 1, Moore said he didn’t expect everything to be word for word in the minutes, but thought there were some significant details missing this time. The item was tabled for council review.

New business agenda
In addition to the Gardner lake dredging project, there were three other items on the new business agenda.
Council approved right of way and easements for final plat, Willow Chase IV subdivision, as recommended by the planning commission.
Council authorized execution of agreement for bond counsel services with Kutak Rock LLP for 2017.
Council officially approved the appointment of Michael Kramer as public works director.

Executive session
At the end of new business, council recessed into a one hour executive session to discuss matters concerning personnel at 8:50 p.m. At 9:50 they resumed and immediately returned to executive session for another hour. They returned at 10:50 and took another 15 minutes for executive session.
Public discussion moved directly to Council Updates upon resuming at 11:05 p.m.