The threshold issue is whether Mississippi National, our public asset, should be sold. The City claims it is losing $200,00/yr on the course. I see this instead as a cash flow problem that might easily be remedied.
Financial data is being analyzed to ascertain whether the City is in fact incurring those losses. Part of any loss is attributable to the terms of the current lease which calls for the City to make capital improvements and to be reimbursed by the Lessee at 4% per year for 20 years. The current 2008 lease essentially makes the City the Lessee’s banker. I believe the City could bond the cost of the capital improvements over the next 20 years, thus lowering the front end costs, level out cash flow, and reduce current “losses.”
There are those on the Council who believe we should not own a golf course; the reality is, we do. The clear will of the people approved the course with a 69% majority. The people have spoken and a fiduciary duty is owed to the public by the Council to ensure the continued operation of this public course. A sale should be an absolutely last resort, not the first option.
To my understanding, local organizations such as the Visitors Bureau, Downtown Main Street, and the Chamber have not weighed in on the issue, nor have they been asked what they think of the sale and potential loss of the golf course. How about the school district as students practice and compete at the course? Has the economic benefit of the course to local business been even considered?
Many in the public have legitimate fears that if the course is sold we will sooner or later see developers come in and carve it up for condos, townhouses, retail, and office space. For example, if sold, how long would a deed restriction be enforceable? Who would enforce it? There are also legal challenges to deed restrictions available to subsequent purchasers.
The best and only real protection for the people of Red Wing and their grandchildren to have a public golf course in the future is for the City to retain ownership.
The City is still refusing to release the appraisal which both the City and the Lessee have. So the bank is entitled to the appraisal, the Lessee, the city staff and Council are entitled to the appraisal, but the public who owns the golf course? NO.
A group of citizens asked to have this matter placed back on the upcoming council agenda but were refused by Council President Rauterkus. With an anticipated closing date in mid-May, if feels as if the public is getting slow-walked.
By the way, I’m not a golfer, nor were most of the voters that approved the course.