Lynnwood weighs golf course options

LYNNWOOD — The city’s parks director is pushing for Lynnwood to outsource its golf course operations to a private company.

The parks director, Lynn Sordel, says the move would save the city money and give the 18-hole, 75-acre golf course a chance to thrive.

City Councilmembers also could vote to close the course, or sell off or repurpose the property.

They’re scheduled to make a decision March 25, council President Loren Simmonds said Tuesday.

The city-run Lynnwood Municipal Golf Course at 20200 68th Ave. W. has been losing money for years. In late 2012, the state Auditor’s Office lambasted City Hall for reportedly mismanaging city money to buoy the golf course budget.

About 45 acres of the golf course property are owned by the adjacent Edmonds Community College. The college signed a long-term lease with the city decades ago.

City officials still are sorting out what the co-ownership means for their options moving forward, Councilman Mark Smith said Tuesday.

“There’s a lot more information we need before we can make a decision on what to do,” he said.

The golf course, which is supposed to fund itself, owes the city more than $1 million, city documents show.

The course has three full-time employees, in addition to part-time and seasonal staff, Sordel said. Its operations budget for 2013 is about $1.2 million.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Sordel presented a 29-page report regarding the golf course’s finances and history, along with local and national golfing trends.

The council expects to go into a work session March 11 toward the end of the council meeting, Simmonds said. The public will have a chance to comment.

Another council work session on the topic is planned for March 18, also with public comment. All those meetings are set for 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Sordel’s recommendation to seek outside management is in line with what’s happened in cities like Everett and Seattle, he said.

The golf course currently has to pay the city for support services such as human resources, he said. He thinks a private company could invest in improvements, marketing and promotions, and technology in ways the city can’t.

“We need that emphasis to grow our business. We’ve been stagnant,” he said. “We’ve come through the recession fairly well, but we need that push to get up that hill.”

Golf course revenues depend on green fees and cart fees, Sordel said. About 1.2 million rounds of golf have been played there over the past 22 years.

Lynnwood in December 2011 paid off the bonds used to finance construction of the golf course.

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

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