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City Council Exploring Multiple Options for Bunker Links

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 143

The Galesburg City Council says they need more information before deciding the future of Bunker Links Golf Course.

During a special work session meeting Monday night, Aldermen reviewed a proposal to take over operations of the course.

The City’s contract with the current golf pro expires at the end of this year, and the Public Works Department believes the City’s anticipated deficit could be reduced by fully operating Bunker Links, themselves.

Sixth Ward Alderman Wayne Allen says he can’t buy into the proposal to take over the course without more specific prices.

“Probably it’s time that the City does take it over, but I want to know what it’s going to cost for the City to do it,” says Allen. “I don’t want to know whether it’s going to be a profit or a loss, but I want to know somewhere close to an exact cost what it’s going to cost the City to do it.”

The City of Galesburg is facing a nearly $1.5-million deficit going into the 2015 fiscal year. Currently, maintenance and upkeep for Bunker Links is provided through taxpayer dollars – which was recently referred to as a subsidy.

First Ward Alderman Ken Goad says if the proposal is adopted, back-up plans also need to be readied.

“I think it needs to be thought out ahead of time that if this doesn’t work, and I hope it does, because we don’t want to take on something that could possibly fail, but we don’t know if this will work until we try it,” says Goad.

Apart from the Administration’s recommendation, the City Council also has the option of leasing the course to a private company or simply selling Bunker Links entirely.

Because cost estimates were largely focused on taking over operations of the course, a majority of the City Council said they wanted additional information on the potential benefits of fully leasing the course. A Request for Proposal could be put out in the near future to test the market for potential bidders. The maneuver would help the City Council better understand which of the options is the more optimal decision.

Not all aldermen were on board with entertaining a private company operating the course. Seventh Ward Alderman Jeremy Karlin says losing control over Bunker Links may lead to somewhat undesirable results.

“I’m not convinced that a company can do privately what it is that we want to have done less expensively than we do, especially when there’s a profit motive in a private company,” says Karlin.

Several members of the City’s Golf Commission were in attendance last night and said keeping the course in public hands contributes to the overall quality of life of residents.

Direction will likely be provided later this year by the City Council, but prior to the adoption of the 2015 fiscal year budget.