Future of Lynnwood golf course uncertain

LYNNWOOD — City leaders say they’re still a month or two out on a decision about the future of Lynnwood’s struggling golf course.

City Council members on March 25 voted to lend the course $1.3 million from the city’s general fund. The money must be paid back by early 2014, council President Loren Simmonds said.

They’re set to spend time again on Monday night and next month talking about whether to keep the course and whether to contract out operations to a private party.

“We will be going through a litany of policy questions of, ‘If we keep it open, how are we going to handle certain things?’” Simmonds said.

The state Auditor’s Office in late 2012 criticized the city for how it was handling the golf course’s finances, including loans from the general fund. The golf course already owed the city more than $1 million before the most recent loan.

City leaders have been talking for months now about what to do. The city parks director says a private contractor could save them money and make improvements to the course to get it back on track.

Both the city of Everett and Snohomish County government use that model for their golf courses. The city of Marysville, like Lynnwood, runs its own course.

The consensus so far among city leaders seems to be the golf course’s business model needs to be changed so it can support itself financially.

“We definitely will have a different model because the model we have now isn’t working,” Simmonds said.

The city’s other parks and recreation offerings, such as senior activities, most often are subsidized through the general fund, parks director Lynn Sordel said.

The council might decide to stop that practice for the golf course.

The city also still has about $543,000 from selling a warehouse near the golf course to Edmonds Community College, Sordel said. Council members could use some or all of that money to pay down the course’s debt or invest in improvements, he said.

The golf course doesn’t have a full-service food and beverage program, or a warm-up hitting area, Sordel said. People played about 40,800 rounds there in 2012.

“Those are the remaining critical questions that will come up again on Monday night,” he said. “It’s time for us to get to some decisions here.”

The community college owns roughly half of the 75-acre golf course property along 68th Avenue W. The split ownership could complicate whatever happens.

Lynnwood council meetings are held at 7 p.m. Mondays at City Hall. Work session times and dates can vary.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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