Golf course, parking on Monticello agenda
by David Boyle
Members of the Monticello City council approved a parking ordinance, approved an agreement with the school district, and discussed the golf course at their latest meeting.
During the public comment portion of the September 13 meeting members of the city council heard two comments regarding the city golf course.
Speaking at the meeting was Westerner RV camp host John Barry. Barry shared his dismay at the state of the Hideout Golf Course, which Barry said has had issues for the past three years.
“Why don’t you fix stuff? It’s ridiculous, “If something’s broken, fix it. A golf course is a bunch of grass that you water and you cut that’s as simple as I can make it. If you’ve got a sprinkler system broken you fix it. If it needs mowing, you mow it.”
Barry expressed additional concerns about other city amenities including the Mill Site and Circle Park.
“Management means that you manage and you fix. You can’t fix everything but you’ve got to fix something. The same things that have been bad at this golf course have been that way for over three years now.”
Barry said he spoke for several other course users and asked for additional money, management, or something to address issues at the course. Barry added the RV park has seen people come to Monticello specifically to golf at the Hideout.
“It’s a unique golf course; it’s a little gold mine. We have people that come for ten days at a time, five days at a time, and do nothing but golf. They bring thousands of dollars into this city. They haven’t been back for two years.”
Also speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting was Hideout Superintendent Caleb Bailey.
“Weekly I get my name bashed in the newspaper and at city council. I don’t think people realize the needs we have as a city, as a golf course, as a parks committee.”
Bailey provided members of the council with forms outlining needs at the course.
“I’m here to provide some numbers of outdated equipment, outdated systems, and unmanned areas of the city. We really aren’t given the tools necessary to succeed.”
Bailey added while the addition of parks management to his department could be a long-term benefit, he said right now it’s weighing the department down.
Speaking later in the meeting, city councilman George Rice shared that when Bailey first took the job in April of 2021 he and several others toured the course.
“We estimated as we rode around and saw some of the damage and the condition that the golf course was in that it was a five-to-seven year recovery for our current superintendent with a full crew to get the golf course to what it needed to be.
“I would encourage anyone that thinks that our current superintendent is asleep at the wheel or neglecting or just leaving things to happenstance...to consider the facts of the matter.”
Rice cited issues the course faces including labor shortages.
“It’s hard to find good employees that are willing to come and work for the money that we can afford. Monticello’s a small town and our budget is extremely limited.”
Rice added other factors for the condition of the course including dry weather.
“We’ve been in a drought for several years and...the superintendent has reduced the amount of water like we’ve asked them to do to help conserve water for our community.”
Rice added another factor he feels is underconsidered is that not everyone in town uses the course.
“The majority of the people that live in this town don’t golf and the golf course has no bearing on their life other than sometimes I think people feel like they’re saddled with the burden of subsidizing the golf course.”
Rice added concerns about course equipment which is over the hours used and years for life expectancy and reportedly would cost $500,000 to replace.
Rice also asked for patience and asked for people who don’t like the condition of the course to spend time volunteering there.
Councilman Nathan Chamberlain added that the city and the course have received help from volunteers for years.
“Because of our limited budget it takes those volunteers,...and we have to volunteer year after year to get it done and there have been citizens that have done that and we appreciate them very much.”
Volunteerism at work was highlighted in the meeting by the recent maintenance at Pioneer Park provided by the Rotary Club. Although Rotarian Doug Allen added a comment regarding that work.
“A lot of Pioneer Park wouldn’t have been necessary if (the sprinklers) had been blown out last year.”
Mayor Bayley Hedglin also expressed frustration with how often they hear the city is doing “nothing” to address a problem.
“One of the biggest issues I had coming in as mayor was how many projects and things were built and done with no plan for support after it was built.
“Look at this system. It’s 21 years old and up until a month ago we didn’t have a line item in the budget as a capital outlay for the golf course.
“There hasn’t been a plan for rainy days or to redo anything. It’s years and years come to this point, and unfortunately has fallen on us and Caleb’s shoulders.”
The city council also approved an updated parking/traffic ordinance at the meeting.
The six-page update is designed to keep large trucks on Center and Main Street and off city streets with exceptions for deliveries.
The ordinance also outlines restricted parking areas, such as twenty feet from an intersection or in alleyways.
Enforcement of the ordinance will come from sheriff’s deputies. The council added a $200 fine for the violation of the ordinance, although officers will be allowed to give warnings.
The city council also approved a facility sharing agreement with the school district.
The council had asked that the agreement be reviewed to clarify the district did not have undue access to the city pool or golf course.
Assistant City Manager Kaeden Kulow explained that the agreement required facility managers’ approval before any use.
The approval from managers provides a check to access to facilities by either entity. At the school level, principals sign off on usage while Kulow has been designated to sign off on city facility use.