MONTROSE – The City of Montrose is close to finalizing a deal to preserve the entire 18-hole Black Canyon Golf Course, City Manager Bill Bell said Thursday. The city could take over the management of the course, purchase the course or enter into a lease agreement with the private Montrose Land Company.
Bell said the Montrose City Council directed city staff to have three options for the council to review and decide at its next public meeting on Dec. 17.
In September, the MLC, which owns the front nine holes (and maintains the City of Montrose-owned back nine), asked the city for more than double its annual contribution for maintenance costs, from $50,000 to $100,000, and for another for $150,000 for capital improvements.
At the time, city officials said the annual payments were not in the taxpayers’ best interest and declined. Following that announcement many residents voiced concern to council that the course needed to be saved. The city has been in negotiations with the MLC ever since and Bell said the city was meeting with attorneys from MLC Friday.
Those options include a lease of the facility, a sale of the front nine from the MLC to the city or a management agreement in which the city would take over the course's operations beginning in 2014.
"The council will have the option to approve more than one, all of them or none of them," Bell said.
He said city staff is working to negotiate with the MLC to come to arrangement with the "long term goal" of preserving the course in the best interest of the city, tourists and local businesses as a viable recreation option.
With the Montrose Recreation District's campaign toward a new Community Rec Center ongoing, Bell said the city needed to take on the process of keeping the course alive. He said in the future there could be an option for the MRD to purse in handling some of the course's operations.
In December 1987, the city signed binding contracts with seven back nine landowners to maintain the land as a golf course, with only bathrooms and rain shelters on the property. Fences running through the property would be prohibited, and weed control and lawn maintenance was the city’s responsibility. The covenants were part of the agreement when landowners deeded property over to the city. But Bell said the situation has become more complicated because not all agreements with the landowners state the city is responsible for maintaining the area as a golf course.
The MLC was first formed in 1961 for the purpose of bringing golf to Montrose and opened and operated the Black Canyon Golf Club as a nine-hole golf course until 1986. It was then, at the request of the Montrose Economic Development Corporation, a set of landowners donated land to the City of Montrose. The city accepted the donation and, along with the issuance of $300,000 in general revenue bonds, the course’s back nine holes were built. The city leased the back nine to the MLC and it has operated the full 18-hole golf course since that time.
For awhile, the Black Canyon Golf Club was the only 18-hole golf course in the region but in 1999 the Cobble Creek golf course was built and in 2003 the Bridges golf course opened. The new golf competition in the Uncompahgre Valley reduced the revenue the Black Canyon Golf Club was used to getting.