Supporters rally for golf course, voice worries
By Hank Lohmeyer
Published Thursday, August 3, 2017 8:58 am
Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Welcome sight Residents in the Cedaredge Golf Course neighborhood have been glad to see the clouds of summer rains rising over Grand Mesa that have brought recent monsoon moisture and revived the golf course grass from a season's-l
About a dozen residents of the Cedaredge Golf Course neighborhood who see the course as a valuable asset to property values and to the town came to the July 20 town board meeting. Three of them spoke to express support for the course and to seek answers for the course's long decline in fortune and physical condition.
Jim Atkinson of SE Stonebridge, a retired engineer, told the town board that he and his wife "love living here in Cedaredge. We made a big investment in a home and don't want to see it degrade."
However, a noticeable trend needs to be identified and dealt with, he explained. He pointed to burned out grass, problems with the sprinkler system, lack of money, and financial subsidies the course receives.
"It is a huge issue for everyone around the golf course who has invested in the golf course," he said.
The golf course could be an asset for attracting retirees, "A great beginning," he said. "We need a strategy to make that happen." It could "enhance value in all that property" and enhance the tax base.
Atkinson noted a number of problems at the course. "The beginning of the season was rough. Everything burned up -- everything. I thought it would be lost. The rain has helped."
Beyond that, he advised that "we need a proactive approach moving forward with the golf course, not reactive. We need a strategy for making it better."
Management is always "chasing the problems," which he named as a crisis management approach to problems, burned up fairways and tee boxes, broken pipes, many sprinkler problems, dead trees that aren't replaced, problems with pumps and filters, long grass and weed control issues. "The list goes on and on," he said. There is always "just a [plastic strip bandage] put on repairs. There should be a better way."
Atkinson said that he has been told that the number of golf rounds played this year at the golf course is up. But he added, "My sense is that over 10 years of play [the rounds] have decreased. I don't know what has caused it. Are people leaving?"
Atkinson told the board members, "I don't have any answers." However he suggested that a committee be formed to look at the issues and he volunteered to participate as a member of a committee.
Another resident of the golf course community, Norma Miller of SE Piñon, also addressed the town board. She said, "I agree 100 percent with what Jim [Atkinson]," says.
She told the town board that "our small town golf course is a benefit to our beautiful little town." She called the golf course a "valuable asset" which in the year 2000 was a "gorgeous course." However, now it is "an embarrassment and in terrible shape."
Maintenance is more important than management, she explained. "When maintenance money is needed, maintenance is more important," she said.
As in business, "If you have to cut expenses, you don't sacrifice the product," she told trustees. "We don't need a master pro position when maintenance money is needed. Maintenance is more important." A general manager could run the course operations, she said.
Miller said that Cedaredge has enough water for the course. "There is no reason the course should get burned up," she said. On the back nine, there is no green grass on some of the tee boxes, a situation she described as "not acceptable."
She advised the town board to evaluate the course's "management versus maintenance."
Resident Jeff Hershboeck of SE Stonebridge told the town board, "My wife and I love this place." However, he said that 10 years ago the same kinds of things were going on with the golf course as are going on now. "I'm hearing the same things about the golf course that I was hearing 10 years ago." He said that a recent town newsletter tried to answer 10 years of problems.
He said that he understood the town was given the land and water for the course for free.
He offered some suggestions that the town be more proactive in telling its version of the golf course story. The suggestions dovetailed with comments provided to the DCI following the meeting from a person familiar with the situation who said that the town "should write an ad in the paper every month and tell [their] story. Nothing is stopping [them] if [they] want to do it. Be positive, not negative."
A fourth speaker at the trustee meeting during the constituent time session, John Steighner, presented trustees with an anecdote on accounting for depreciation that was not specifically related to the golf course. His anecdote made the concluding point, "In 2016 the Town of Cedaredge put approximately $248,000 in its pocket charging water users real money for an accounting entry."
When the DCI contacted Steighner to confirm the spelling of his name, he noted that town officials probably wouldn't agree with the comment on depreciation accounting, though the comment was not challenged at the meeting.
The audience was asked by board members if any of them would like to attend upcoming town budget meetings or volunteer for service by running for town trustee or serving on the town planning commission. No volunteers stepped forward at the session.
Following the town board meeting a public "question and answer" forum on the golf course was scheduled for Aug. 16 at 3 p.m. at the Community (Civic) Center. This facilitated meeting will be an opportunity for people to ask questions about and learn more of the workings of the town-owned golf course.