Red Wing Council continues MNGL talks
Red Wing City Council members are working to decide what they want for Mississippi National Golf Links, and said they made some headway Monday.
At a council workshop, Jeff Schoenbauer of Schoenbauer Consulting presented a preliminary study. He said there is no solution for the course that will satisfy everyone but suggested the city decide what it wants from MNGL and open up a request for proposals process.
“You’d be looking at real numbers from real proposals,” he said, which could help with the decision-making process.
But first, the council needs to decide if it is willing to spend city money on the course, Schoenbauer said, and if it will pour money into capital improvements.
“It’s going to be difficult to imagine a scenario in which some sort of subsidy is not needed going forward,” he said.
The council also needs to decide what they want the proposals to look like. That means potentially landing on how many holes the course will be — or asking for plans for different amounts — what the funding structure will be and other details.
Some clarity from the city could help interested parties, including local nonprofit Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation, refine plans, Schoenbauer said.
Most council members generally agreed they want to explore a plan with some ongoing city funding.
“Far and above people in this city want a public golf course, and they want Mississippi National,” Mayor Dan Bender said to applause from the audience.
The number of holes or uses for the land and other major decisions are yet to be determined, but the golf course committee and council will work on that, members said.
City Council member Peggy Rehder said the course needs to be considered among other parks, recreation and culture budget items, and that the budgeting process is underway.
“I don’t think we can look at MNGL in isolation,” she said.
“How do we spread our dollars for the maximum good?” Council member Marilyn Meinke agreed.
President Lisa Bayley said while many people want to keep the course, she also has heard they do not want taxes raised to do so.
Rehder also said the city cannot forget that the legal issues surrounding MNGL have not yet been settled. A hearing is set for late October.
Schoenbauer said he does not think the level of golf in the city is sustainable, with both MNGL and the Red Wing Golf Club operating all holes. He suggested an opportunity for collaboration with the club.
The proposed RFP process worries Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation.
Public comment was not taken at Monday’s meeting, but in a letter to the council’s golf course committee, RWMGC said the group has serious concerns, including the fact that the wait during the RFP process could “cripple and delay our efforts.”
The group also was concerned about an anonymous $200,000 matching donation, which “is not an open-ended offer,” board member Kent Laugen wrote on behalf of the organization.
The group had received the pledge on the condition that it raise another $200,000 of its own.
Mississippi National is closed for the summer with the exception of the driving range. The City Council has said it would like to make a decision on MNGL’s future in time for the next golf season.
Another workshop on the course is planned for 6 p.m. July 17.
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