Anoka is considering a costly overhaul of its Green Haven golf course that would include a year-round driving range, winter disc golf, reconfigured fairways and the relocation of an urban road to revitalize the 85-year-old municipal facility and the surrounding neighborhood.
Also on the program: new homes to ring the bells.
“It’s a big ticket,” Mayor Phil Rice said at a special city council working session on Monday devoted solely to the project. “It’s a huge investment.”
Early estimates put the cost of upgrading the golf course at $ 6.9 million, a price that could reach $ 11 million if everything included in current concepts were implemented.
Some city council members have raised concerns about funding for the work and how this would affect other city operations.
The most recent iteration of the plan features a new double-ended driving range with heated bays that would allow duffers to hit golf balls most of the year. The new equipment could attract between 50 and 150 people per day and generate income from $ 150,000 per year, according to a memo from the city.
Plans also include redesigning some fairways and adding activities such as pub curling, lawn bowling, winter disc golf and other events to increase attendance and revenue. The city has already acquired commercial property on Garfield Road and is negotiating to buy another. If successful, the city could realign Garfield to no longer divide the golf course on the north side.
About 10 years ago, the city adopted the Greens of Anoka Redevelopment Plan, which encouraged a long-term commitment to Green Haven and to improving aesthetics and improving play on the course. The discussion on Green Haven resumed as the major reconstruction of the highway nearby. 10 is slated to start this summer, which could make it harder for clients to access the course and result in fewer laps played. It also coincides with development in Anoka’s Highland Park neighborhood, which includes a new senior housing co-op.
With all the upheavals to come to the area, board member Jeff Weaver, who is not a golfer, believes it is a good time to redo the course.
“If we want to do it, let’s do it and make Green Haven the best it can be,” he said. “I think we should move on.”
Warren Ryan, spokesperson for the Minnesota Golf Association, said the sport has been booming in recent years, fueled in large part by the pandemic. As other activities were canceled or curtailed, many viewed golf as a safe outdoor activity and new players took to the sport, he said.
Municipal golf courses like Green Haven saw 25,394 rounds played in 2018. That number rose to 34,110 in 2020 and to 36,738 last year, according to the association’s survey of golf participation in the ‘State. In addition, a program that subsidizes rounds for youth has grown from about 4,500 playing children to 13,000 in the past three years.
Based on those numbers, “if they want to do it, now is the time to do it,” Ryan said.
Rice said the project could make Anoka a better community, but “it needs to be thought about.” He said the Highland Park neighborhood should have nice homes “where people want to live”.
But there is also some apprehension that the project could commit a large chunk of the city’s money and reduce the city’s flexibility to undertake other projects.
The city could pay for the Green Haven improvements through a combination that could include selling city-owned land, issuing tax relief bonds and securing a $ 3 million loan from the city-owned power company.
Power company director Greg Geiger said the prospect of drawing on the power company’s reserves made him “nervous”. He said he was concerned that if $ 3 million was loaned to the golf course, the utility might not have enough money to pay for sudden repairs if a storm or other emergency were to damage a substation. . He said the utility is already considering raising prices for customers to cover operating costs which have risen in recent months.
Council member Erik Skogquist said he thinks this will be a great project for Anoka, but doesn’t think it’s financially feasible to proceed at this time.