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updated: 5/15/2014 8:43 AM

Mount Prospect Park District leaders weigh golf course costs

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Mount Prospect Park District commissioners will spend the next two weeks considering how much they want to spend to renovate the district's golf course.

At a special meeting held Wednesday, the park board reviewed the bid totals for a significant golf-course renovation project that would include a new irrigation system, an expanded driving range, drainage improvements and various changes to individual holes.

The base bid total for the entire project is approximately $8.6 million. A number of cost-saving alternates, though, reduced that total by $1.2 million, to roughly $7.4 million. The alternates included, among other things, changes in construction materials and the elimination of 60,000 square feet of new golf-cart paths from the project.

David Esler, a golf-course architect who designed the plan, said the renovations would push an already well-regarded course to an elite level.

"The could be one of the best public courses in the state," he said. "That's not just hyperbole."

The price tag, though, is higher than previous estimates suggested. The most recent one predicted the renovations would cost about $6.7 million.

The park board previously agreed to borrow $8 million to pay for the renovations. Based on the bids and other costs associated with the project (architect fees, project contingency, etc.), $8 million wouldn't be sufficient to cover the whole cost.

Commissioners have to decide now whether to borrow more money to complete the project as proposed, or start the process over with a significantly scaled-down plan.

A vote on the proposed renovations could come as early as May 28.

"Staff has given us some options, and we need to consider them all," park board President Timothy Doherty said.

Some residents who spoke at Wednesday's meeting suggested the price tag for the full plan has gotten too high. They wondered, for instance, whether it was necessary to include a new driving range in the plan. Expanding the driving range requires a number of holes to be completely rebuilt.

"You have to ask what is really needed," resident Ed Devaney said. "It's the extras that are killing us."

Esler pointed out that an expanded driving range would offset some of the costs of the project by providing additional revenue for the park district going forward. The current driving range generates between $15,000 and $20,000 a year for the district. The expanded one could generate as much $100,000 a year, he said.

Other residents at the meeting supported the plan, saying that a renovated golf course would ensure brisk business on the course in the future.

Should the project be approved, the golf course would be closed for about a year, starting this summer.

The park board has also considered building a new maintenance facility on site for about $1.6 million. Park District Executive Director Gregory Kuhs said that given the price of the other renovations, it's unlikely that a new facility would be built at this time.

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