New Ideas Will Be Presented in the Coming Weeks
MONTROSE – Consensus prevailed in a crowd of 200 Monday night at a brainstorming session about preserving the entire 18-hole layout of the Black Canyon Golf Course, with attendees agreeing it’s in the best interest of the city, tourists and local businesses to maintain the golf course.
Now it’s up to the recreation district, city staff and golf course operators to come up with an agreement make it happen.
Nearly 200 local residents attended a "brainstorming" session to come up with feasible options to prevent the course from being reduced from 18 holes to nine.
In September, the Montrose Land Company, which owns the front nine holes (and maintains the City of Montrose-owned back nine), asked the city for more than double its annual contribution for maintenance costs, from $50,000 to $100,000, and for another for $150,000 for capital improvements.
City Manager Bill Bell said that paying a total of $250,000 for the golf course was not in taxpayers’ best interest, and that the city should opt out. Golf course advocates packed an Oct. 15 city council meeting demanding action – and prompting city staff to schedule the Monday meeting.
Staff presented several ideas to the public Monday, including making annual payments of $100,000 and providing another $150,000 for capital improvements. Attendee Jerry Weaver said these annual payments to the course should be viewed as a "maintenance fee," rather than a "tax subsidy." Other suggestions included having the Montrose Land Company operate the course at nine holes, with limited hours; having the Montrose Recreation District purchase and maintain the course as a recreation facility, while it tries to fund a new community recreation center next year; having the city purchase the course, making capital improvements and transferring ownership to the recreation district through an intergovernmental agreement; having the city purchase and operate the 18-hole course with funds from the city's general reserves and create an enterprise fund to pay back that investment; having the city purchase the course and offer land company shareholders discounted rates for an undetermined period of time; and having the Montrose Land Company to sell the front nine to a developer and use the proceeds to subsidize annual memberships and shareholders to Cobble Creek or the Bridges, two other courses located within Montrose.
"We don't have an idea to move forward," Bell told the crowd. "This is just a starting point."
In December 1987, the city signed binding contracts with seven back nine landowners to maintain the land as a golf course, with only bathrooms and rain shelters on the property. Fences running through the property would be prohibited, and weed control and lawn maintenance was the city’s responsibility. The covenants were part of the agreement when landowners deeded property over to the city. But Bell said the situation has now become more complicated, because not all agreements with the landowners say the city is responsible for maintaining the area as a golf course.
Local resident Curtis Robinson, who is one of the original landowners, said the city cannot dispose of the back nine without a special election.
"This issue needs to be resolved now and forevermore. And needs to be resolved immediately," Robinson said.
Bell said the city will compile and "fine tune" the ideas in the next couple of days and will have further discussions before the city council could vote on a final proposal in the coming weeks and months.
Officials with the recreation district have said their main focus is on funding for a new community recreation center but have said the district board has been open to "all options" with regard to the operation of the golf course.