Public Forum ‘In the Next Couple of Weeks’
MONTROSE – Residents flooded the Montrose City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, urging council and staff to save the back nine holes of the Black Canyon golf course, despite the fact that the course lacks funds for operating costs.
The fact that the issue was not on council's agenda didn’t stop visitors from making their voices heard on the matter, as speaker after speaker insisted that the city must continue to maintain the municipal 18-hole golf course, for the public good.
There are actually two golf courses at stake. The front nine holes are owned by the Montrose Land Company, and the back nine are owned by the City of Montrose.
In December 1987 the city signed binding contracts with the back nine landowners stipulating that the land would be maintained as a golf course, and that no structures other than bathrooms and rain shelters would be permitted. Fences running through the property were prohibited, and weed control and lawn maintenance were the city’s responsibility.
These covenants were included in the agreement before the landowners deeded their property over to the city.
After years of declining revenues and competition from two new courses, Cobble Creek and The Bridges, the city agreed in 2008 to help maintain the back nine through annual payments of $40,000 to $50,000 to the Montrose Land Company.
This year, the Montrose Land Company upped the ante, asking the city to pay $100,000 to cover maintenance costs at the golf course, which the city said it could not afford.
At Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Bill Bell directed staff to schedule a large public forum in the "next couple of weeks.” In the meantime, city staff will work with various stakeholders, including Montrose Land Company board members and "other potential partners" like the Montrose Recreation District, to find the best common solution.
City staff met with members of the Montrose Land Company board following the Sept. 9 meeting, at which the Montrose City Council turned down the Land Company's funding request.
"Everyone wants an 18-hole golf course. It’s just about how we go about getting there," City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said Tuesday.
Alcorn said the city is reviewing the "best of everybody's proposals," and also has "legal options" it can pursue, as a last resort.
Resident Curtis Robinson, one of the original landowners on the “back nine,” said he has hired an attorney who is working with the city to review the original agreement.
"I think we are just an inch away from moving forward," Robinson said, adding that he only wants the city to honor its agreement, and believes the negotiation process should remain "positive."
Montrose Land Company board member Buck Miller said after the meeting that the board was “more than willing to consider all options" in working with the city to preserve all 18 holes.
"Right now, we're moving ahead and making plans to operate as a nine-hole golf course, and working to protect that asset," Miller said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the only voice of opposition to “saving the back nine” came from resident David Crane, who personally delivered a written statement to council, minutes before the meeting started.
Mayor Judy Ann Files read Crane's letter into the record. In it, Crane charged that owners of land surrounding the holes of the back nine were trying to “exert control” over council, and that any financial help would be considered a “government bailout for years to come.”
Crane further charged that every dime the city spends to “prop up a failing business” takes away funds from such critical city functions as law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance and "existing parks that are open for everyone to use, not just the wealthy who can afford golf fees."
But Robinson countered that he is confident that "there will always and forever be 18 holes at the Black Canyon course."
Council also unanimously voted to approved the City of Montrose’s 2014 budget of $39,903,390 at Tuesday’s meeting.
Golf Prices by each Montrose Course: Prime Season
The Bridges: 18 w/Cart: $87, 9-hole w/Cart: $55
Cobble Creek: 18 w/Cart: $58, 9-hole w/Cart: $43
Black Canyon: 18 w/Cart: $42, 9-hole w/Cart: $28
Golf Prices by each Montrose Course: Twilight Rate
The Bridges: 18 w/Cart: $50, 9-hole w/Cart: $30
Cobble Creek: 18 and 9-hole rounds with cart: $37
Black Canyon: 18 and 9-hole rounds with cart: $30