On behalf of FOLB, I wish to thank City Council for holding this public hearing concerning golf and Lady Bird Municipal Golf Course. We also wish to thank you for arranging the opportunity for the golfing community to meet with Jeff Blume earlier today in the Cardinal Room at the golf course.
A year and a half ago, City Council unanimously approved a resolution granting FOLB the authority to work with city staff to offer reasonable recommendations for improving operations at Lady Bird. While we appreciate your confidence in us, we also recognize our responsibility to perform to the highest standards of a citizen group interacting with municipal government. We believe we have worked in a transparent manner and that our recently submitted report is fair and objective. Our report suggests there are many opportunities to improve operations both on the golf course and in the club house.
Our Board also understands and appreciates the myriad issues facing City Council and city staff. Your recent public hearings and discussions concerning the municipal swimming pools speak to the importance you have given to quality of life issues in our community. Fredericksburg is a small town, but it is probably the biggest small town in Texas. Our citizens are a diverse group of locals and auslanders who have increasingly sophisticated expectations of local government. At the same time, ours is a fiscally conservative citizenry which also expects local government to operate efficiently, making the best possible use of our tax dollars.
As we consider how to go forward, we are guided by three tenets:
- A vision and long term plan for the golf course are the key elements needed to allow responsible decisions for operations and capital going forward.
- All the stakeholders: taxpayers, residents, visitors, businesses, juniors, and city staff have wishes and needs which must be considered.
- The agreement reached by city and county concerning the avigation easement requires the city to use the $550K for improvements at the golf course.
FOLB would encourage City Council to take a methodical and purposeful approach to the issues facing Lady Bird. An argument could be made that we do not really know how good our current golf course is until it is operated in keeping with industry standards. Additionally, our observations suggest that we may not understand the exact status of current operations with regard to best uses of personnel, the efficiency and effectiveness of equipment, the availability of trade-offs to allow a shift of resources, and the budget process.
Our initial assessment suggests that there may be sufficient money in the current budget to support improved operations and an improved product, both with regard to the golf course and club house. However, golf course infrastructure needs improvement and upgrade in such areas as irrigation, cart paths, and golf course equipment. Additionally, a decision will have to be made concerning replacing the turf on our greens which are currently 30 to 50 years old, well beyond the usual 15 year life expectancy. Therefore, depending of course on the vision and long term plan, some capital infusion for infrastructure will be needed.
Therefore, FOLB would encourage Council to:
- Appoint a Vision Committee to articulate several specific alternatives and to report to Council within a relatively short period of time.
- While the Vision Committee is meeting, authorize:
- USGA consultation to review and offer recommendations concerning cultural practices, equipment, golf course personnel, training, etc. The cost is $2000.
- PGA consultation to review and offer recommendations concerning club house operations including personnel issues, merchandising, the potential for support increased rounds, etc. A final cost estimate is pending but is expected to be less than above.
- Designate an interim management team to deal with transition issues.
- Await Vision Committee report and completion of authoritative consultations before undertaking decision on reconstruction.
FOLB appreciates the time and energy you have devoted to Lady Bird. We believe that your efforts are well founded and will ultimately serve to enhance the value of this beautiful and important facet of life in Fredericksburg.
Thank you for allowing us to speak this evening.