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Group Interested in Buying Eagle Valley Golf Course

The city has a three-year plan to improve the municipal course, but a Woodbury man says a private group could run it better.

Could the have a new owner?

Woodbury resident Chris Soukup says he has a “half-assembled” group that has been looking at buying a course in the area. He attended Wednesday night's Woodbury City Council meeting to express his interest in buying the Eagle Valley Golf Course.

He told Patch that Woodbury's municipal course has been “mismanaged” and a private group would have a better shot at making Eagle Valley successful.

“It could do very well,” said Soukup, a business consultant.

A purchase wouldn’t happen anytime soon.

Councilman Paul Rebholz on Wednesday reported findings from the Eagle Valley Golf Course Task Force, which outlined a three-year plan for turning around the financial standing of the course.

“I think it’s a great course,” Rebholz said.

Woodbury has already , and Rebholz said the city will look at new marketing efforts and focus more on the “windshield” rather than the “rear-view mirror.”

“That, to me, is the biggest thing,” he said.

Rounds are down at courses across the country, Rebholz said, and a particularly poor golf season in 2011 was felt at Eagle Valley.

The city’s efforts will focus on getting Woodbury residents to play the course more and a promotional effort that markets the city’s amenities—, the , etc.—as a whole.

“There’s a symbiotic relationship, and we should be marketing the different pieces,” City Administrator Clint Gridley said.

The city plans to set benchmarks for the course, and if things don’t improve, “there will be some other decisions that need to be made,” Rebholz said.

The course breaks even from an operations standpoint but has had trouble keeping up with its debt service and capital improvements.

“We’re actually holding our own,” Rebholz said, adding later: “Overall, the city’s equity position in the course is pretty good.”

There are covenants in place that require Eagle Valley to remain a golf course or parkland for the next 14-15 years, Rebholz said. Much of the development in that area was also driven by the existence of the course, he said.

Community Development Director Dwight Picha noted that the market for golf courses is down right now and it wouldn’t make sense for the city to pursue a sale. He also said that future growth in the city—it will likely have a population of 85,000 to 90,000 when fully built out—could open the door for more rounds at Eagle Valley.

Soukup said was disappointed that the city has committed to running the course for the near future. “It’s a poor recommendation," he said.

But his group will continue to look at buying an area course.

“If it’s not this one, it will be another,” Soukup said.

 

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Baxtron April 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Sell at a high price, let this wise man fail, then take it in foreclosure! Win, Win for Woodbury.
mary jensen April 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
No do not sell it. Once sold, city loses control and then the owners could build more houses on the land!
Kris Janisch April 20, 2012 at 04:40 PM
It is an interesting discussion, whether cities should be in the golf course business.
Edward April 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Should cities be in the sports and recreation business at all? Bielenberg sports center, city parks and walking/biking trail system, indoor central park . . . should these all be privatized?
Kris Janisch April 20, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Good point Edward. I can see how a golf course isn't substantively different from those things. But people do pay to go to a golf course, as opposed to Central Park or the trails.
Baxtron April 20, 2012 at 05:22 PM
oh, I thought the city council or planning commission had the last word on approval if the 'turns into houses' scenario would arise.
Baxtron April 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Anyone can go to a park, walking/biking trail, not everyone plays hockey or golf. And cities are in all businesses all the time. Those roads, utilities, sewers, policemen, firemen, and hospitals did not fall out of the sky.
Chris Soukup April 27, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Interesting comments. To be clear, the City of Woodbury has covenants in place that would prevent the development of the property. The goal of my group would be to simply purchase the course at a fair price, keep the course open to the public, relieve the city of a financial burden and add a good chunk of land to be taxed by the city. I believe the city would be in better shape and the course could offer a better experience to the community if operated privately.
Kris Janisch April 30, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Thanks for chiming in Chris, this has generated some good discussion.
Kris Janisch May 01, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Strib got into some of the numbers on this over the weekend: http://www.startribune.com/local/east/148945095.html

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