Glen Ellyn's golf course will undergo $6.3 million in improvements, including major upgrades to the clubhouse and parking lot, and smaller changes to the course itself.
Plans to update the Village Links of Glen Ellyn, at 485 Winchell Way, have been discussed for almost three years at some 40 meetings of various village commissions. As the project scope grew, the final price tag fluctuated, causing ire among some members of the village board.
But this week, the project won approval on a 5-1 vote, paving the way for work to begin next month and be complete in time, officials say, for the start of the golf season in May.
"(The Village Links) has long been described as a jewel in the community," Trustee Phil Hartweg said. "It's time to spiff up the jewel a little bit."
The project includes an addition to the clubhouse with a new bar, dining room, 150-seat banquet room, restrooms, patio, as well as upgrades to the existing kitchen. More parking and new streetlights will be added outside, and on the course, the driving range tee will be expanded, two new practice putting greens will be installed, and the first tee of the 9-hole course will be moved to the east.
The clubhouse was built in 1968, remodeled in 1977 and expanded with a restaurant in 1984.
The village awarded a construction contract to Wheaton-based E.P. Doyle & Son for about $5.4 million. Including additional work to be performed in-house by the Village Links staff such as installation of furnishings and fixtures, and design fees, the total project cost is $6.3 million.
It will be primarily funded by borrowing $5 million through a 20-year general obligation bond issue that officials say will be paid back through profits from the Village Links. The golf course's reserve fund will cover about $600,000 of the total cost. Additionally, $700,000 is being provided from the village's capital and grant funds to pay for paving, curbing, lighting and water and sewer main improvements in the public right of way at the golf course's Winchell Way entrance drive.
Village Recreation Director Matt Pekarek said he thinks cash reserves and expected increased profits from the upgraded facility will be enough to cover the estimated $335,000-a-year debt service payment.
"That will be a challenge. There's no doubt about it. But we are confident that an improved facility will generate additional profits because the Village Links is a proven performer financially," Pekarek said.
He said the facility, which operates on user fees, has been able to turn a profit for the majority of the 40 years it's been in existence.
Trustee Peter Cooper, who voted against the project, said the recreation staff used "overly optimistic numbers" to predict the amount of income that could be generated by the restaurant and golf course, and "deceptive numbers" initially on the cost of the project that started at almost $3.8 million in June 2011 and grew to $6.3 million today.
Village President Mark Pfefferman said the project, despite its higher cost, is better now than it was when first proposed because the village got input from others.
"Words like 'deceptive' or 'not being candid' -- I don't think that through this process our board or the recreation commission or finance commission have gone in a manner to be deceptive to the public," Pfefferman said.
He said upgrades to the clubhouse would help increase the number of golf outings at the Village Links -- a must for meeting the financial projections.
"This is a question of paying now or paying later," he said. "We're going to be obsolete if we don't do it."