The Louisville (Colo.) City Council voted unanimously to bring management of the city-owned golf course in-house after ending its agreement with Western Golf Properties, which has managed the facility for 12 years. Flooding in September caused an estimated $3.5 million in damage to the course, which washed out up to 40 bunkers, damaged 14 greens and 14 tee boxes, destroyed three bridges and took out much of the course’s irrigation system.
The Louisville (Colo.) City Council voted unanimously to bring management of Coal Creek Golf Course in-house again, agreeing Monday night to issue a notice of termination to the company that has overseen the city-owned facility for the past dozen years, the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera reported.
Louisville’s contract with Western Golf Properties will end, following what the city says was a failure by the Lake Forest, Calif.-based company to properly assess damages and develop reconstruction plans at the golf course following the devastating September floods, the Camera reported.
A message left by the Camera on Western Golf Properties CEO Robert Heath’s cell phone Monday was not returned.
The city will consider forming a golf division under the Louisville Parks and Recreation Department to manage the 18-hole course, though that could involve up to a million dollars in one-time upfront costs for the city to cover equipment, materials and organization costs, the Camera reported.
“Our mindset is to get this golf course back together again,” Parks and Recreation Director Joe Stevens said. “This is giving us an opportunity to step back and say, ‘Where do we want to go?'”
Stevens wrote a letter to Heath last month, accusing the company of failing to “take prompt, responsive action despite requests by the city to do so,” the Camera reported.
“As a result, the city had to step in to evaluate and assess damages and carry out duties and responsibilities that are clearly the responsibility of WGP per our operations management services agreement,” the letter read.
The city also claims the company is delinquent with its October payment to Louisville of $30,000, the Camera reported.
Stevens said he was “taken aback” when Western Golf promptly laid off most of its staff in the wake of the storm, which washed out 35 to 40 bunkers, damaged 14 of 18 greens and 13 to 14 tee boxes, impacted 25 acres of fairways, destroyed three bridges and took out much of the course’s irrigation system, the Camera reported.
Early estimates put the damage to the course at $3.5 million. The city is accepting reconstruction proposals and hopes to hire a firm in early December. It is possible the golf course may not reopen until 2015, the Camera reported.
Western Golf has managed Coal Creek Golf Course for about 12 years, Stevens said, the last 3 ½ of which the company operated in an arrangement where it collected all the revenues generated by the course—about $2 million a year—and gave $180,000 to Louisville as an annual fee, the Camera reported.
Ken Gambon, chairman of the Louisville Golf Course Advisory Board, said it’s understandable from a financial standpoint why Western Golf wouldn’t want to continue investing in a course that won’t be able to generate revenue for a while, the Camera reported.
“They were saying they weren’t going to get any revenues, so why would they incur any expenses?” Gambon said. “As soon as the flood hit and there was damage to the course, they let the employees go and they had a dramatic sale of inventory in the golf club.”
Gambon welcomes the city’s plan to take over the course, saying that golfers have been complaining for years about the condition of Coal Creek Golf Course, whether it’s patches of burnt grass or fungal infestations. Gambon points to Indian Peaks Golf Course in Lafayette as an example of a successful municipal-run facility, the Camera reported.
Some golfers paid Summit Club memberships of $2,000 a year but only got to use the course for a few months before it was forced to close, Gambon said, adding that attempts to get answers from Western Golf on how to handle the situation have fallen on deaf ears, the Camera reported.
“I firmly believe when all is said and done, the golfers will be made whole,” Gamon said.
Louisville City Manager Malcolm Fleming said the city is still negotiating with Western Golf over the delinquent payment and the details of the termination. But he said the time for the city to lead its golf course back to health is now, the Camera reported.
“It’s an opportune time for the city to take over the course,” Fleming said.