Shareholders Approve Golf Course Buyout
by William Woody
Feb 14, 2014 | 1647 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE – A long chapter in the history of the Black Canyon Golf Club officially came to an end Friday night with the majority of Montrose Land Company shareholders approving a $675,000 buyout from the city. The city will assume operations of the golf course, for municipal use.

In a 30-minute meeting of MLC shareholders at the Montrose Pavilion, the almost 60-year-old golf course transitioned from private to public ownership.

"The meeting went very well," said Montrose Land Company President Brad Oberto, upon sealing the deal.  "When the Montrose Land Company was formed, its sole purpose was to bring the game of golf to the community of Montrose, and for the past 60 years it’s done that.

“Now it’s up to the city to carry on with that.” 

Turnout at the meeting was high; just one-third of the facility's 1,015 shareholders were needed to approve the buyout. (When a Colorado corporation proposes to sell “all, or substantially all, of its assets,” shareholder approval is required.

The final vote was 562 in favor, with just two votes against. 

"Overall, we had the most amount of votes we've had in 20 years," Oberto said, adding that the proxy of shareholders needed for approval was in place before the meeting. 

Oberto said some shareholders asked questions about the negotiations, others asked about the sales agreement with the city. But mostly, Oberto said the meeting was productive and shareholders wanted to know what the next steps were going to be.

"No one stood up to say they were against this, or this was the wrong deal to make,” Oberto said.

Last month the Montrose City Council unanimously approved a lease-and-management agreement between the two parties, transferring all 18 holes, equipment and the clubhouse to the city while the buyout of MLC’s assets, debt and real-estate-closing obligations were completed.

Over the years, the MLC has asked the city for financial contributions to help maintain the city-owned back nine. The course has struggled financially, and the back-nine deal has prevented the possibility of bankruptcy.

"I think we got the best deal that we could,” Oberto said previously of that arrangement. 

As for the future, he said, “I think the majority of people are going to want, and are most concerned about, having an 18-hole golf course in the future...they just want to be able to play golf." 

In September, the MLC asked the city to double its annual contribution for maintenance costs from $50,000 to $100,000, and then for yet another for $150,000 for capital improvements. The city declined, but following that announcement, at a well-attended public forum at the Montrose Pavilion, enthusiasts maintained that the course must be saved “at all costs." 

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The closing deadline was set for the end of May, but with Friday's approval, could now transpire sometime in March.

The Montrose Land Company 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 group 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 holes to the MLC, which has operated the full 18-hole golf course since that time.


Improvements for 2014 season 

Before the ink dries on the closing contracts, the course's 600-plus members are curiously waiting to see what the future holds with the new municipal operation. The city is already preparing for the 2014 season by booking tournaments and preparing to make capital improvements to the clubhouse and grounds. 

City Manager Bill Bell said last week that the city is faced with an estimated $20,000 in improvements to the clubhouse, parking area and a leaking pond on the course itself. These improvements will inch the total cost of the city's initial ownership of the course close to $700,000, before the season even begins.

Bell said a cracked floor in the clubhouse kitchen, a rotting fence and the installation of a handicap ramp are some of the areas the city will address, using city staff and resources.

Bell explains that by pulling people from the Parks and Public Works departments, and using city owned equipment, the city will save money. Improvements to a small golf cart parking area will use leftover asphalt that might otherwise have been discarded.

Bell said the city is taking a "team management approach" to operating the course, and will not  hire a PGA Professional to manage golf shop operations (a move that will save $50,000 a year).

"Right now, I'm the point of contact on handling tournaments," Bell said, adding he has booked three tournaments this year including a senior championship and a Montrose High School boys tournament. Last season the course held maybe 20 tournaments, including the club's mens league competition.

Bell said the city is working with a PGA management school in Colorado Springs to hire a pair of interns to to operate the clubhouse for a period of time.

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