Stories indexed with the term ‘Huron Hills Golf Course’

Park Commission OKs Golf Cart Lease

An amendment to a two-year golf cart lease with Pifer Inc. was recommended for approval at the Feb. 25, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. The agreement would increase the original number of 65 leased carts by 34 carts, for a total of 99 carts. The city leases golf carts from Pifer for the Huron Hills and Leslie Park golf courses.

The lease amendment would be for two years, for an amount not to exceed $50,340 over the length of the lease amendment term. Funding for FY 2014 would come from the parks and recreation services general fund and would be in the proposed budget for FY 2015, according to a staff memo. In FY 2013, the city generated about $225,000 in … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council Mulls Ballot Questions

The Ann Arbor city council has until its second meeting in August to put various questions before voters on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot. At its July 2 meeting, the council heard from Jane Lumm (Ward 2) that she and Mike Anglin (Ward 5) are working to bring a ballot question to Ann Arbor voters that would further tweak a city charter provision about the sale of parkland.

The charter provision had been approved in November 2008 by a 81%-19% margin (42,969 to 9,944). The tweak would involve adding actions like “lease,” “license,” or “re-designate” to the set of actions on city parkland that would require a voter referendum.

The 2008 ballot question had asked voters if they wanted to add a clause to … [Full Story]

Golf: Fees Raised; Task Force Renewed

At its Feb. 22, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a fee increase at the city’s golf courses, and reappointed members of the city’s golf courses advisory task force.

Power golf cart rentals for 9 holes at Leslie Park and Huron Hills will increase from $7 to $8; for 18 holes, the rental fee would increase from $13 to $14. City staff estimate the increases would generate $25,000 in additional revenue per season. Weekend fees for 9 and 18 holes at Leslie Park golf course will increase by $2 and $1, respectively, and the twilight fee would increase to $16, up from $15. These increases would generate an estimated additional $12,500 in revenue per season. In addition, the council approved raising the senior citizen qualification age to 59 for the 2011 season. That’s part of a consultant’s proposal to incrementally increase the qualification age from 55 to 62 by adding one year to the minimum age annually.

The actions came to the council in advance of the regular budget, so that the rates can be in place for the opening of the courses in the spring.

At the council’s meeting, the mandate of the city’s golf courses advisory task force, first appointed in 2008, was also renewed and its members were reappointed. Its members are: Stephen Rapundalo (city council); Julie Grand (park advisory commission); Bill Newcomb and Ed Walsh (citizens with demonstrated golf operations expertise); Thomas Allen (Ann Arbor citizen with group golf play experience); Barbara Jo Smith (Ann Arbor golf courses patron); John Stetz (citizen and member of a neighborhood association adjoining a golf course). The task force will be chaired by Rapundalo.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Ann Arbor 2012 Budget: Parks, Plans, People

Editor’s note: The Ann Arbor city council has held two retreats to discuss the city’s FY 2012 budget – one in early December 2010 and another in early January 2011. A summary of the material covered in those retreats is provided in previous Chronicle coverage: “Ann Arbor: Engaging the FY 2012 Budget.”

Leading up to the city administrator’s proposed budget in April, the city council is also holding a series of work sessions on the budget. Their typical scheduling pattern is for the weeks between council meetings. That was the case on Jan. 31, 2011 when the council held its budget work session on the community services area, which includes human services, parks and planning. Another session was held on Feb. 7, prior to the council’s regular meeting, regarding the 15th District Court. A report on the Feb. 14, 2011 session, which focused on police and fire, will follow.

Community Services Area Ann Arbor city council budget retreat

At the podium is community services area administrator Sumedh Bahl. Partially obscured by the podium is councilmember Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). Leafing through the budget impact sheets that the council had been given just prior to the meeting is Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2). (Photo by the writer.)

The Ann Arbor city council’s budget work session on Jan. 31, 2011 covered a broad range of topics – from the city’s affordable housing stock, to planning and development, to parks and recreation (including golf courses), to human services funding. All these issues fall under the city’s community services area, which is led by Sumedh Bahl.

In a budget year where maintaining the same level of activity in every department is projected to result in a $2.4 million shortfall, city departments have been given reduction targets between 2.5% and 4%. Targets vary across departments depending on health care costs for employees in those departments.

So at their work session, councilmembers heard from heads of individual departments about the specific ways those targets might be met.

For example, Mary Jo Callan, who’s head of the city/county office of community development, told councilmembers that an unrealized $98,000 federal grant would pose an additional challenge. All other things being equal, Callan would meet the reduction target by reducing the city’s allocation to nonprofit human services agencies by $116,714 – from $1,275,744 to $1,159,030. The budget is planned in two-year cycles, even though it’s adopted just one year at a time, so Callan’s reduction strategy for next year’s FY 2013 budget would be to reduce the nonprofit allocation by an additional $48,700.

The planning department plans to meet its reduction target in part by charging the construction fund for 10% of the historic district coordinator’s time, factoring in projected revenue increases due to increased development activity, and leaving a rental housing inspector position vacant. The rental housing inspection activity would be maintained at appropriate levels by using construction inspectors for rental housing inspections as needed.

The city’s housing commission – which maintains more than 350 units of public housing throughout the city – is not proposing to meet reduction targets, but rather to hire what officials say are two crucially needed positions: a financial analyst and a facilities maintenance manager, which together are expected to cost an additional $154,000 per year.

Parks and recreation would meet their targets in part through savings derived from energy improvements that have been made to various recreational facilities over the past few years.

The council focused some of its session on the city’s golf courses, with a council consensus seeming to emerging that for the next two years, the council will be content to stick with the status quo – operating the Leslie Park and Huron Hills facilities as golf courses, and not changing them to other uses.

But the council was also asked to consider a question on which it could be harder to achieve consensus: Should the city continue to help fund park operations, as it has for the last four years, by tapping the city’s general fund reserve for $287,000 annually? The history of the issue dates back to the parks capital improvements and maintenance millage, which was approved in 2006, and which was followed by the council’s approval of its FY 2008 budget the next spring.

That history is rooted partly in a question that the city’s CFO, Tom Crawford, addressed in a straightforward fashion at the work session: What exactly does it mean for a department to have a budget reduction target of 2.5%?  [Full Story]

Vote on Ann Arbor Parks Plan Postponed

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Jan. 18, 2011): Commissioners were set to vote on recommending approval of the updated five-year Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan, but decided to postpone their vote until the February meeting to allow for possible additional public input.

Sam Offen, Tim Doyle

Park advisory commissioners Sam Offen, left, and Tim Doyle look at a schematic of the proposed Allen Creek Greenway during a presentation at PAC's Jan. 18 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

A speaker during PAC’s public hearing on the plan had pointed out that the official public commentary period runs through Jan. 24. That prompted discussion among commissioners about whether to hold off until all possible commentary is heard – though some indicated there’d already been ample opportunity for feedback. Another public hearing on the PROS plan will be held at the planning commission’s Feb. 1 meeting, with a vote by that group set for Feb. 15. City council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the plan in early March.

Tuesday’s PAC meeting included two presentations. Mike Quinn, a board member of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy, described the group’s efforts and asked PAC to convey a sense of urgency about the project to city council. And Scott Rosencrans, a former PAC chair, gave an update on the Ann Arbor skatepark: “The big news is that this is the year we build the skatepark.”

Updates from city parks staff included a quarterly financial report, during which parks manager Colin Smith reported that parks & recreaction is looking at 2.5% cuts during the next budget cycle. Commissioners also got briefed on the outcome of the Miles of Golf proposal to take over operations of the Huron Hills golf course – a proposal rejected by the city late last year – and an update on planned improvements at the Gallup Park canoe livery. Staff will hold a public meeting with concept plans on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the livery, starting at 7 p.m. If the plan is approved, the city is poised to apply for state grant funding for the project, estimated to cost about $450,000. [Full Story]

Next Step Taken on Huron Hills Proposal

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.

Doug Kelly, Andrew Walton, Chris Mile

Chris Mile, right, co-founder and president of Miles of Golf, discusses the firm's proposal for Huron Hills golf course with Doug Kelly, left, the city of Ann Arbor's director of golf, and Andrew Walton, the Huron Hills golf supervisor. (Photos by the writer.)

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. [Full Story]

Interview Set for Huron Hills Golf Proposal

The selection committee that’s been evaluating two proposals for operating the Huron Hills golf course has selected only one – made by Miles of Golf – to advance to the interview stage. An interview with representatives from that business is set for Friday, Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m. in city council chambers, on the second floor of city hall.

The meeting – which will be recorded by Community Television Network (CTN) – will begin with a presentation by Miles of Golf, followed by questioning from the selection committee. The committee includes Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager; Julie Grand, chair of the park advisory commission; Doug Kelly, the city’s director of golf; Ward 2 city councilmember Stephen Rapundalo; former city councilmember Mike Reid; Ed Walsh, a member of the city’s golf advisory task force; and Sumedh Bahl, the city’s community services area administrator.

Miles of Golf proposes moving its business to the city-owned Huron Hills site. The current 11 holes on the south side of the Huron Hills property would continue to operate as a golf course. The first 7 holes on the north side would be converted to a golf center similar to the current Miles of Golf operation at Carpenter and Packard roads in Pittsfield Township, with a teaching center, a practice facility (driving range), and a retail shop. [.pdf file of Miles of Golf proposal]

A second proposal, not recommended by the committee, was 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] [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Park Commission Checks Budget

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Nov. 16, 2010): Budget issues were highlighted during Tuesday’s meeting, with a quarterly financial update from staff leading to a broader discussion about how much general fund money is used to subsidize parks operations.

Judy and Manfred Schmidt

Judy and Manfred Schmidt were honored at the Nov. 16 park advisory commission for their volunteer work with the city's natural area preservation program. (Photo by the writer.)

Parks manager Colin Smith reported that the first four months of this fiscal year – from July 1 through Oct. 31 – are off to a good start. Year-to-date revenues of $918,091 represent an increase over the same period last year, when revenues were $793,783. Expenses for that period are down from $1.23 million last year to $1.07 million this year.

Commissioner Tim Berla asked for clarification about how much support parks is getting from the city’s general fund, and Smith said he’d prepare a report on that issue for PAC’s December meeting. General fund support for parks is important to track, Berla indicated, because it reflects a promise that city council made prior to passage of a parks millage in 2006: That the total general fund subsidy for parks wouldn’t be diminished as a percentage of the overall general fund. The issue also ties into which part of the city budget will be used to pay for dam maintenance.

During an update on the $1.168 million Argo Dam bypass project – which PAC had recommended at its Oct. 19 meeting, and which the city council approved on Monday – Berla said he’d like to have a discussion about how to get city funding for a skatepark as well. As a result of that request, PAC will likely have a work session in December or January that focuses more broadly on prioritizing capital projects, including a skatepark. Other potential projects mentioned by commissioner Gwen Nystuen include the Allen Creek Greenway, another dog park, and increased connectivity for the park system’s trails and pathways.

Commissioners also got an update about the two proposals submitted for Huron Hills Golf Course, and heard from parks planner Amy Kuras on the status of capital improvement projects for the parks. Kuras reported that West Park is now open to the public following an extensive renovation, and that a draft of the Parks & Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan will be distributed soon for public feedback, pending a city council vote authorizing that action.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, two long-time volunteers – Judy and Manfred Schmidt – were honored as volunteers of the year for the city’s natural area preservation program. The Schmidts were specifically commended for their decades-long advocacy and stewardship of the Scarlett-Mitchell Nature Area, a 25-acre park adjacent to Scarlett and Mitchell schools and Mitchell-Scarlett Woods. During his comments, Manfred Schmidt proposed a whimsical solution to the city’s budget struggles, a plan that involves the amount of buckthorn he’s cut down over the years. [Full Story]

Potential Bidders Eye Huron Hills Golf

About a dozen people attended Monday afternoon’s pre-bid meeting for those interested in responding to the city of Ann Arbor’s request for proposals (RFP) seeking a public/private partnership for the Huron Hills Golf Course.

Doug Davis, Doug Hellman

Doug Davis of Miles of Golf, left, and Doug Hellman of KemperSports were two of about a dozen people who attended Monday's pre-bid meeting for the Huron Hills Golf Course RFP. (Photo by the writer.)

Anyone who plans to submit a response to the RFP was required to attend the meeting, which lasted 30 minutes and was followed by a field trip to tour the course. Among those attending were Doug Davis and Chris Mile of Miles of Golf, Doug Hellman of KemperSports, Joe Spatafore of Royal Oak Golf Management, and William Arlinghaus of Greenscape.

Also attending were several citizens who have publicly opposed the RFP process, including Ted Annis, Nancy Kaplan, Myra Larson and Paul Bancel. Some are involved in the citizens group Ann Arbor for Parkland Preservation (A2P2).

The meeting, led by city parks manager Colin Smith, was a chance for potential bidders to ask questions or request additional information. The deadline to submit proposals is Oct. 29. [.pdf file of Huron Hills RFP] [Full Story]

Public Turns Out to Support Huron Hills Golf

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (Aug. 17, 2010): About 30 residents attended Tuesday’s PAC meeting, many of them speaking against the city’s plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the Huron Hills Golf Course. Several expressed concerns about what they see as the city’s attempt to privatize the course, which they described as a beautiful, beloved parkland asset. Some said it made no sense that Ann Arbor supported a greenbelt millage to preserve open space outside the city, while selling development rights to parkland it already owns within the city.

People attending the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission

About 30 people attended the Aug. 17 Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting. Prior to the start, city councilmember Mike Anglin (far right) talks with Nancy Kaplan. Standing at the left is William Newcomb, a member of the city's golf task force, talking with PAC chair Julie Grand. In the foreground are Sandra Arlinghaus and William Arlinghaus. (Photos by the writer.)

The issue drew two city councilmembers to the meeting – Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) – as well as former and current council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy, Jack Eaton and John Floyd. Councilmember Mike Anglin, who serves as an ex-officio member of PAC, also attended. Former planning commissioner Sandra Arlinghaus and her son William Arlinghaus both spoke to PAC, urging them to widen the scope of the RFP so that it might include more creative possibilities, like a location for cremains.

A couple of people also spoke in opposition of the Fuller Road Station project, citing similarities with the Huron Hills situation. In both cases, they said, the city is attempting to use parkland for other purposes. The Fuller Road Station is a proposed parking structure and bus depot, which might someday include a train station.

During deliberations, most commissioners voiced support for the RFP, noting that the golf course – though doing better – is still losing money. [The accounting method used to determine how the golf course is performing financially was a point of contention by some speakers during public commentary.] Several commissioners pointed out that the city is under no obligation to accept any of the proposals that might be submitted. And Colin Smith, manager of parks and recreation, emphasized that the city would retain ownership of the land – there are no plans to sell Huron Hills, he said. He also noted that the RFP calls for proposals to be golf-related.

The plan is to issue the RFP on Sept. 3, with responses due at the end of October. A selection committee will review the proposals and make a recommendation to PAC, probably in December. City council would make the final decision on whether to proceed with any of the proposals. [Full Story]

Park Commission Asks for Transparency

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (June 15, 2010): A temporary venue change led more than two dozen people to the Community Television Network studios for this month’s PAC meeting.

Colin Smith, Tim Doyle

Colin Smith, left, the city's parks and recreation manager, talks with Tim Doyle, who was attending his first meeting as a new park advisory commissioner. Doyle replaced the position formerly occupied by Scott Rosencrans, who did not seek reappointment. (Photos by the writer.)

The main agenda item was consideration of two resolutions regarding Fuller Road Station, and many people who attended the meeting were there to address commissioners on that topic – most of them protesting the use of city parkland for what will, at least initially, be a large parking structure and bus depot, built in partnership with the University of Michigan.

Park commissioners have expressed concerns about the project, and resolutions were crafted to address those issues, including a possible financial loss to the parks system and a lack of transparency in the process.

At several points during deliberations, Christopher Taylor – a city councilmember and ex-officio member of PAC – defended the process, indicating that while it was a misstep that PAC wasn’t formally asked for input, there had been many opportunities for public participation.

PAC ultimately approved a resolution that asks city council to make available a complete plan of Fuller Road Station – including any significant proposed agreements, such as what the university will pay the city for use of the structure – allowing sufficient time for a presentation at a televised PAC meeting before council votes on the project. The resolution also asks that staff and council ensure the project results in a net revenue gain for the parks system.

Several other speakers during public commentary addressed the issue of Huron Hills Golf Course, and expressed concerns that the city would seek to privatize it. During his manager’s report, Colin Smith told commissioners that a draft request for proposals (RFP) regarding Huron Hills won’t be finished until August at the earliest, and will be brought to PAC for review before being issued by the city.

The meeting also included a presentation by Molly Notarianni, the city’s market manager, with an update on the farmers market and public market activities.

Tuesday’s meeting was also the first for PAC’s newest commissioner, Tim Doyle. Doyle was recently appointed by city council to replace Scott Rosencrans, who did not seek reappointment. In welcoming him, PAC chair Julie Grand joked: “You picked a good one to start.” [Full Story]

Park Commission OKs Fee Increases, Budget

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (April 20, 2010): At Tuesday’s meeting, park commissioners gave their blessing to proposed fee increases and the parks budget for FY 2011, recommending that city council approve both items.

Karen Levin, Gwen Nystuen, David Barrett

Gwen Nystuen, center, passes out copies of a draft resolution to Karen Levin and David Barrett, her colleagues on the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. Nystuen is proposing that PAC form a subcommittee to review the impact of the Fuller Road Station. (Photos by the writer)

The proposed budget would keep all of the city’s 157 parks open, but would cut back maintenance – mowing and snow removal – on 17 parks. The budget also proposes keeping open Mack Pool and the Ann Arbor Senior Center, which had previously been slated to close. A handful of supporters for those two groups who attended Tuesday’s meeting applauded when commissioners approved the budget.

Only one commissioner – Gwen Nystuen – voted against recommending the budget, citing objections to a proposed rollback of funds for the city’s Natural Area Preservation (NAP) program.

Nystuen also floated a proposal to form a subcommittee that would review the impact of the Fuller Road Station. That project, which is jointly funded by the city and the University of Michigan, would initially include a large parking structure and bus station on city-owned land that’s designated as parkland. Nystuen has been vocal about her concerns over setting a precedent with this project, and frustrated that PAC hasn’t taken a more active role on the issue.

Commissioners also got a brief update on the status of an RFP being drafted by city staff for the possible privatization of the Huron Hills Golf Course, and heard from an organizer of the Ann Arbor skatepark during public commentary, who invited commissioners to an April 25 design workshop. [Full Story]

Parks Update: Golf, Birds, River Art

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission (Nov. 17, 2009): With the golf season coming to an end, the city’s Park Advisory Commission got a status report from Ann Arbor’s director of golf, Doug Kelly. He did not, however, provide a recipe for his chicken salad, which he added to the menu this summer at the two city-owned courses. Then again, no one asked – but someone did ask when the golf courses were expected to break even.

The sign for the city's Huron Hills Golf Course at the corner of Huron River Parkway and Huron River Drive. (Photo by the writer.)

The sign for the city's Huron Hills Golf Course at the corner of Huron River Parkway and Huron River Drive. Though the city's Leslie Park Golf Course closed for the season on Sunday, Huron Hills will be open "until the snow flies," according to its website. (Photo by the writer.)

Also at the meeting, PAC honored Roger Wykes, the 2009 Natural Area Preservation volunteer of the year. Wykes helps out with the city’s breeding bird survey – commissioners heard details about that project from ornithologist Dee Dea Armstrong.

And an artist who’s spending this year as a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan made a pitch for an art installation along the Huron River – a project that he envisions will help build a bridge between the university and the community of Ann Arbor. [Full Story]

There’s Cold in Them Thar Hills

Temperatures at 3°F with winds out of the WSW put Accuweather’s RealFeel® at minus 26°F on Sunday afternoon. We headed out across the city to monitor the hills at Huron Hills Golf Course for any sledding action. Status: two pods of sledders, both decidedly international in flavor. Countries of origin that were represented included Israel, China, and El Salvador. Photos after the jump. [Full Story]