The bunkers at the Foxtail Golf north course are in line for a big-time renovation this year thanks to Rohnert Park’s City Council voting to invest $177,000 in the project.
The city dedicating this money allows for all the bunkers to be fixed at once rather than a certain amount of bunkers at a time. The two courses at Foxtail (north and south course) are owned by the city and are leased and managed by Course Co., doing business as Rohnert Park Golf. The council approved the repairs via 3-0 vote. Councilwoman Gina Belforte recused herself because her home lines the golf course and some of the bunkers in question are within 500 feet of her home. Councilman Joseph Callinan was absent from the meeting on Feb. 14.
The general consensus and the opinion of city staff is that Foxtail’s two courses are in excellent condition, save for the bunkers on the north course. The state of the bunkers is such that some golf tournaments to be hosted by Sonoma State University’s golf team were moved elsewhere, which has cost the city hotel and restaurant revenue.
“The bunkers have been a problem for quite a while,” Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Pam Stafford said. “I’ve had dozens tell me the bunkers have hindered play and caused people not to play. SSU has lost a tourney because of the bunkers that would have brought a lot of people and revenue to our city. I think it’s a brilliant solution. This met one of our goals in the strategic plan. It’s an investment, not just repairing something in community. We’re fixing something we own and getting money back in the process.”
The $177,000, according to a city staff report, will be repaid at a rate of 5 percent interest over the next decade. Rohnert Park City Manager Darrin Jenkins said rather than investing in a certificate of deposit (CD), this type of investment will net the city more money over the long haul, as CD rates are currently only 2.3 percent compared to the 5 percent payback rate for Course Co. Over the life of the $177,000 advance to the golf course, the difference in the CD interest and the advance interest is $23,700.
Councilman Amy Ahanotu, who works in a local credit union, was all for the terms of this agreement.
“I think it’s a novel idea,” Councilman Amy Ahonatu said. “Five percent is a good return on the investment. I have no problem if they’re willing to pay 5 percent over the next 10 years.”
The lease with Course Co. includes provisions for setting aside golf revenue for capital improvements in a Capital Improvement Fund.
One reason this money is available is because as part of the University District development agreement, the developer is required to deposit $11,200 per house at the close of escrow. The city is to segregate the funds in a separate account and invest the funds. The investment earnings are to be placed in the city’s General Fund for the purpose of offsetting the net cost of providing services to the newly developed area without sacrificing services of existing residents. The city currently holds more than $300,000 in a dedicated fund for the purpose of investing per the development agreement.
Some of revenue from golf goes into the city’s capital improvement fund. In 2003, Rohnert Park invested $355,000 in remodeling the driving range at Foxtail as well as other course improvements. That money also is being paid at a rate of 5 percent interest to Rohnert Park, and only four payments remain. That money should be paid off in June, according to Jenkins.