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City gives thumbs up to port RV plan

 


Port District 7’s plan to put in an RV park at Banks Lake Golf Course has been viewed favorably by both Electric City’s planning commission and city council.

The plan, if everything goes forward, is to put in a 48-pad RV park where the driving range is and along the first fairway at the course.

Port district officials, who are now running the golf course, went before the planning commission Nov. 6, and to the city council last Tuesday night.

In both instances, the port district was encouraged to move forward with its plan. All of the steps will have to be formally approved as they are developed, officials told the port representatives.

Port District 7 Chairman Orville Scharbach and Commissioner Jerry Birdwell appeared before the council Tuesday asking for its support so the port could move forward with its effort to secure funding for the project.

Scharbach told the council that the port district plans to appear before the Grant County Strategic Infrastructure Program Advisory Committee to ask for some $317,000. Scharbach said that if the port district was successful in this effort, part of the funds might come as a grant and the rest as a loan. Any action would have to be approved by the Grant County Commissioners.

Scharbach produced a drawing showing room for 48 RV pads in the 6.8-acre layout. He said that maybe only 30 would be developed.

It is the port district’s hope that the project could be completed in time for summer use in 2013.

Scharbach spoke of similar RV parks at golf courses in Quincy and Warden. Both were producing much needed revenue through golf play.

The port district took over the Banks Lake Golf Course operation last March when the former operator walked away from the course. The district sank an estimated $120,000 in the course for improvements and operation from March through October.

A feasibility study on how the RV park would benefit the golf course is due this Friday and will be part of the package the district presents to the county on Dec. 3.

The port also produced a number of letters from campground operators stating they were not opposed to the RV plan at the golf course.

The district has been looking for ways to stimulate play and increase revenues at the course since it doesn’t have money to bankroll its operation in 2013.

While there were successes in the district’s operation of the golf course this past season, it wasn’t enough to sustain its operation.

The successes were largely in the improvement in the number of memberships, and of the course’s greens which had been damaged the winter before.

The port district has already appeared once before the SIP committee, and leaders came away encouraged that the project was possible.

The RV park will provide two important revenue sources for the course. One in the fees it generates from people parking their RVs there, and two in the number of people who play the course. Membership alone, and play by a diminishing number of visitors, has not been enough to sustain the course.

In the cases of the RV parks in Quincy and Warden, some park their trailers there for the entire summer so they can return on weekends to play golf, Scharbach pointed out.

The 6.8-acre space will be designated “tourist commercial,” similar to Coulee Playland, a spokesperson stated.

The park would take up the driving range and the newer number-one fairway. Golfers would then use the old number-one fairway.

The port district would have to provide the full engineering plan and move forward with the project quickly if the financing effort is fruitful in order to be up and running this next summer.

 

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