Despite concerns from some residents, Amarillo is moving forward with plans to soon start a nearly $3.3 million renovation of a golf course located in the northern part of the city.
The Amarillo City Commission decided Wednesday to have Landscape Unlimited Inc., a Lincoln, Neb., firm, do work on the Ross Rogers East Course, located on West Hastings Avenue and Broadway Drive.
The roughly $3.28 million renovation is slated to run from mid-March to mid-August and will make a number of changes to the course, including the replacement of an old hydraulic irrigation system with an electronic unit.
The project was budgeted for $3.23 million before Wednesday, but a few commissioners requested that 150 sprinkler heads slated to be nixed be re-added into the irrigation system plan. The additional sprinkler heads will cost roughly $53,000, said Larry Offerdahl, Amarillo’s director of parks and recreation.
“We wanted to bring the course within our budget,” he said, referring to the reason for not wanting to include the 150 sprinkler heads. “We wanted to make sure we had enough deducted alternates to help keep the project within its budget.”
The additional sprinkler heads will ensure the course is well-irrigated during times of hot, dry and windy weather, said Commissioner Jim Simms.
“We are turning what could be a great project into an OK project,” Simms told Offerdahl during a work session before Wednesday’s meeting. “Personally, I think we need them.”
The renovation will be financed by bonds the city will repay with revenue from the course’s user fees.
Offerdahl said players are charged a $2 user fee for each round they play.
He said the course usually averages about 100,000 rounds per year.
The project’s total cost is about 5 percent less than initially budgeted, but guests who attended the meeting argued the city needs to be more fiscally conservative during this dour economic period.
Roy McDowall, an Amarillo resident, said taxpayers like him do not want to later find themselves in a situation where they will have to help the city repay the bonds.
He said taxpayers will see a number of their other expenses increase as both the state and federal governments initiate spending cuts.
“I know the figures you’ve thrown out are good, but I’m not a fan of going into debt,” he said.
“Give us time to see what’s happening to our country and where we’re going to be.”
Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt, however, said she doesn’t recall a non-taxpayer-funded project that later fell back on taxpayers.
“I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I can’t think of a single project that’s come back to taxpayers,” she said. “Our ultimate decision is not to put any burden on taxpayers, but we have a goal to maintain a high quality of life in Amarillo. We want to do what’s best for the city.”
Offerdahl said the renovation is needed in part because the course has become increasingly difficult to maintain.
He said the greens there are 30 to 40 years old, and manufacturing of the old hydraulic irrigation system stopped during the 1980s.