Saturday, October 23, 2004
In 1995, voters approved a 20-year accommodations tax of 1 percent to be used for the construction of a "golf course and a temporary clubhouse." This measure also stated the funds could be used for any other above-ground improvements that benefit tourism once the golf course is paid off. Voter intent was not expressively given to build a permanent clubhouse. Other uses of these funds, had our City Council not given them away to the Golf Management Committee, would have included skateboard park improvements, playground equipment, ball fields, soccer fields, dog parks, a tennis bubble, Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association needs, winter tourist needs ... well, the list could go on.
Councilman Steve Ivancie has it wrong when he stated, "The clubhouse is nothing more than the final phase of the whole project." The project, as approved by the voters, was explicit -- a golf course and a temporary clubhouse.
We all have our wants and our needs, and no doubt, the Golf Management Committee wants a new $4 million clubhouse. Admittedly, the present clubhouse could use some exterior improvements. But shouldn't our City Council have looked at the wants and needs of the entire community instead of just the wants of the Golf Management Committee? City Council has now locked up this source of funding, which totals $630,000 per year, until it expires in 2015 for the exclusive use of the Golf Management Committee. The council never asked the golf committee to present other funding options to improve the present building. The council never asked for a phased-in project proposal or a smaller scale proposal that would allow for other uses of some of the funds.
Remember our wants and our needs? Most of us want a good golf course with fair green fees. Haymaker is a good golf course with professional and courteous staff. I play golf at Haymaker. But I don't need a $4 million clubhouse, and I suspect most of you don't either. And what happens if golf revenue stays flat or even declines. Will our green fees go up?
And so we must ask: What special interests might have influenced council members? Was voter intent to give all of this money to one entity? Why didn't the council invite all groups that may have an interest in getting funding for improvements that benefit tourism for input? What our City Council needs to do is say they made a mistake. Rescind the approval for the $4 million clubhouse and look at other options that could include improving the exterior of the present building and building lockers. This need could be met and possibly leave $3 million for other users. Only then would voter intent be honored and benefits to all be achieved.