City Council considering future of Lynnwood golf course

The future of the Lynnwood golf course likely will be decided this month.

The Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts, Lynn Sordel, has recommended that the city shift the management and marketing of the golf course to the private sector.

Sordel’s recommendation was presented in a 29-page report to the city council during a work session on March 4.

Sordel said that the city council needed to resolve two specific questions. One was whether golf was a business or a recreational activity in Lynnwood. The second was whether the golf business or golf course activity be closed.

His recommendation would be to have a private operator handle the management and marketing of the course, while the city would continue to maintain the course.

“Under this model, the city would still be responsible for maintaining the golf course,” Sordel said. “That is what we view as core competency. It is one of our strengths. Playing conditions have been consistently very good. It’s something we do very well.”

Sordel said that many Northwest courses, such as in Seattle, Everett and Bellevue, have moved to this private/public model. Sordel consulted with eight other municipalities that operate golf courses with private operators.

Other options include selling the property or converting the land to another use.

Our news partner, the Seattle Times, reported that Lynnwood has loaned millions to its struggling municipal golf course since 2008. The state auditor says the loans are not allowed because the golf course can’t afford to pay them back. Lynnwood’s 18-hole city course is supposed to be financially self-sufficient, but it started falling behind in 2008 and had to take out a loan from the city utility fund.

Read the story here.

Sordel said that a private operator would be able to potentially market the golf course better than the city and that private sector could operate the course at less cost than the city. If the council decides not to close the golf course, then Sordel recommended action by March 31 or sooner if possible since the golf season is approaching.

Councilmembers requested more information about the potential financial benefits of bringing in a private operator.

“I think that preliminarily the outsourcing model has some promise,” said councilmember Kerri Lonergan-Dreke. “I want to get some more details.”

Council President Loren Simmonds was cautious.

“I want to put the golf course on a tight lease,” Simmonds said. “We’ve got to have some documentation, proof that we are definitely moving in the right direction.”





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