About 50 people showed up Friday morning in the city council chambers to hear a presentation by Miles of Golf partners about their proposal to assume operations of the city-owned Huron Hills golf course, and move their business there.
During the 90-minute meeting, president Chris Mile and other partners with the Pittsfield Township business gave a presentation and answered questions from a seven-member selection committee. Members of the public were allowed to submit questions, which city staff said will be answered and posted online within the next couple of weeks.
Much of the presentation covered the same material found in the Miles of Golf initial response to the city’s request for proposals (RFP), as well a separate financial report. [.pdf file of Miles of Golf RFP response] [.pdf file of Miles of Golf financial proposal] The business has proposed operating the 18-hole, 116-acre course essentially unchanged for three to five years. Then, it plans to build a new facility on what is now the front seven holes – land east of Huron Parkway – with a driving range, teaching center and golf shop. It would relocate its current operations, which are located off of Carpenter Road, south of Packard, and convert the remainder of Huron Hills into a 9-hole course. They’re also hoping to partner with Project Grow or Food Gatherers, to put in a community garden on land they don’t plan to use for golf.
To fund construction, the proposal calls for the city to issue a $3 million bond, which Miles of Golf would pay off over 20 years. The business proposes to pay additional funds to the city during that time, totaling about $1 million. Miles of Golf also estimates that the city would save about $5 million over the 20 years, since it would no longer be paying to operate the course – an estimated $250,000 per year.
During their presentation, Miles of Golf partners addressed concerns that have been raised in the community. They stressed that the project would not put up perimeter fencing or pole lights, and that the land would remain accessible for winter activities, like sledding. Nor do they plan to build a banquet center – though they do hope to eventually sell food and beverages on the site, including alcohol. Currently, Huron Hills does not have a liquor license, though the other city course, Leslie Park, does.
Miles of Golf submitted one of only two proposals that were made in response to the city’s RFP, which was issued in September. The selection committee rejected the second proposal, which had been submitted by a group called Ann Arbor Golf. It called for operating Huron Hills as a public, 18-hole golf course via a new nonprofit entity, the Herb Fowler Foundation of Huron Hills. [.pdf of nonprofit proposal]
In an email to The Chronicle, Paul Bancel – one of the leaders of Ann Arbor Golf – said they’d been told by city staff that their proposal was rejected because they hadn’t provided an adequate plan for staffing the golf course, hadn’t identified the roles of the key individuals in their organization and didn’t include any bank references. The group was disappointed the committee did not choose to interview their group, Bancel wrote – they were not asked any questions, nor were they asked to provide any clarifications about their proposal.