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First step in planning process; City accepts land for proposed golf course

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Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

West Fargo City Commissioners made their first step toward considering a city-owned golf course by voting 5-0 Monday night to accept a donation of 160 acres of land for the proposed 18-hole course and authorized city staff to engage in talks with developers on how the plan would unfold.

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Westport Beach Development group is donating the acreage, valued at approximately $3.6 million, which is located north of 52nd Avenue West, south of the Westport Beach Subdivision and 40th Avenue West, and west of Sheyenne Street.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee said the developers also agreed to pay for construction of the course, with an approximate $7.3 million price tag, by paying for storm water special assessments on the developed lots they own as well as golf pass assessments to developed lots.

He said that no debt would be assessed "against anyone else in town, but maintenance will be another issue."

Brownlee said that the initial study conducted last year by HVS Golf Services, a Colorado based firm, revealed that a golf course would be feasible but not necessarily profitable and could lose about $250,000 the first year and then go downward after that. He cautioned that their report was based on estimates.

He said that $450,000 from the total bond proceeds initially issued to pay for construction could be placed in a contingency reserve fund and the money used to offset losses for the first five years of the golf courses operation. He said once that was gone, if losses remained, more money would have to be placed in the fund or the loss would have to be budgeted for.

West Fargo Park District officials were also present at the meeting. Park Board president Sharon Odegaard told the commission that the park board would be willing to serve in an advisory capacity if the city commission wanted them to do so; however, they would not be able to commit to any dollars or staffing to support such a project at this time.

Jim Bullis, attorney for the Westport Beach group, said the plan would be to assess the cost back to the developer's land. He said one distinct advantage for the proposed golf course in that area would be no flooding. He added that the only way the project will work is if the city and developers work together. "This is a unique opportunity and we are committed."

Mayor Rich Mattern said he felt the project would have a significant positive impact in providing an additional amenity to the community, "and lets not loose site of the fact an estimated $240 million could be added to our tax roles. That's nothing to sneeze at."

It was also noted that realization of the golf course could play a significant role in being a location that would provide additional amenities, i.e. tennis court, swimming pool, etc. that could be a possible sharing venture of both the park board and the school district, if they choose to become involved. Everyone agreed that it is imperative that the park board and perhaps even school officials be a part of the ongoing discussion and planning.

Commissioners were mixed on their comments about the proposed course.

Commissioner Simmons said, "I don't golf. This isn't about golfing but the revenues generated. I think we have to look at that when moving forward."

Commissioner Bennett said he felt Fargo made a terrible mistake when they allowed Trollwood to relocate to Moorhead and he didn't want to see a passed up opportunity in West Fargo. "They let a prized possession get out of their hands, we don't want to do the same thing." He pointed out additional revenue opportunities, like naming rights for the proposed course.

Commissioner Schulz stated "that it all comes down to marketing. There are so many opportunities that haven't been touched on that we could explore. I think we need to dream big first." He also impressed the importance of having the school district involved. "I think we are going in the right direction in keeping everybody in the know."

Commissioner Thorstad questioned the project, saying he felt it important for residents of the community to understand the scope of what the city would be taking on. "I agree with what the mayor says, if we want amenities we have to pay, but there are a lot of things to consider." He said potential costs for such a course could run up to three mills a year, pointing out that funding is going to be needed for several important city projects including the 9th Street East interchange, Main Avenue reconstruction, and a future water treatment plant.

City Attorney Brian Neugebauer said that by passing the motion to accept the land, the commission was not approving a golf course. He said a design plan and construction costs would have to be arrived at and once they were, if the commission thought the costs too excessive, would have the authority to say 'no' to the project.

The year 2011 is the earmarked completion date if everything works out according to plans.

-okayed an amendment to the cost participation agreement with the North Dakota Department of Transportation that now includes the ramps and the loops for the 9th Street overpass project at no additional cost to the city; .

-approved first reading of rezoning of Lot 1, Block 1 of Maul's 1st Subdivision, 714 12th Ave. NW, from heavy commercial/light industrial to heavy industrial. The applicants, Terry and Karen Maul, want to rezone the property and obtain a conditional use permit to allow the crushing and stockpiling of crushed concrete. The property is located south of 12th Ave. N.W., east of County Highway 19, and west of the Sheyenne River. The property must be rezoned from Cm to M to allow for concrete crushing and stockpiling as a CUP. The commission approved the request on the condition that stockpiles of crushed concrete are kept at the current height of the buildings. Notices were sent to the adjacent property owners for review and no comments were received;

-approved an application for a retail liquor/beer license for Joel Wold who is purchasing Bottle Barn Liquors at 837 East Main Ave;

-approved second reading and gave final plat approval to a replat and rezoning of Shadow Wood 2nd Addition from agricultural to R-1B, special single family dwellings;

-awarded the contract for Sewer and Water Improvement District No. 1188 , Christianson's First Addition, to Master Contruction Co., Inc., of Fargo, with their low bid of $1,492,220.40. The work will include installing municipal potable water, sanitary sewer, streets and street lights;

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Oct. 6, at 5:30 p.m., in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.

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