City Council approves economic impact study on golfers

by Richard Uhlhorn

In 2020, a study of operations at the Lake Chelan Golf Course was conducted. The study included recommendations for success at the course along with improvements needed.

Also the study recommended that an Economic Impact Study be conducted to provide information on outside contributions that golf course users make in the community’s overall tourism economy.

Golfer who golfed at the Lake Chelan Golf Course will be the subject of an Economic Impact Study of where they spent their money outside of the golf course. The contractor will be using cell phone data from 2019 and 2020 to conduct the study.

City Council was asked to authorize Mayor Goedde to finalize and execute a contract with Earth Economics for an Economic Impact Analysis for the city’s course.

The City allocated $15,000 for this project in 2021. Earth Economics came in above that price at $18,400 to conduct the study using their innovative use of cell phone data from 2019 and 2020. The firms portfolio includes economic analysis on Outdoor Recreation in Washington State for the State’s Department of Natural Resources and WA. St. Recreation and Conservation Office.

“I’m excited about this project,” said Parks Director Paul Horne. “The company uses cutting edge technology.” The Parks Department hopes that the end result will show how the Golf Course contributes to the City.

The company will only be tracking golfers and all data will remain anonymous, but Councilman Peter Jamtgaard said it sounds like 1984 to him. “There is something about this that strikes a bad cord with me,” said Jamtgaard. Councilman John Olson replied to Jamtgaard’s issue and said that the data collected is not connected to any specific person.

Tim Hollingsworth added that if the data is not attached to a specific phone, he can’t see where it oversteps a person’s privacy. Olson said he’d had the opportunity of working with this company on the west side when he was in real estate. “They are extremely thorough and reliable.”

The Council voted to approve the authorization with Jamtgaard voting No.

The other big issue at Tuesday’s Council meeting was the proposed construction of the new Public Works Building. The City opened bids for the project on February 11 from three general contractors; Blew’s Construction, Cascade Central Construction and Halme Builders.

The City Council rejected the bids to build the City’s proposed Public Works Building because the bids came in at almost $1 million over the Architects estimate.

The bids came in approximately 70% ($1 million) higher than the City’s contracted architect; Design West Architects. The bids were all within $100,000 of each other at a low of $2,200,000 to a high of $2,300,000.

The architect stated that he had never seen a square foot price as high as this ($529.00). Public Works Director Jake Youngren told the Council that they had reached out to each contractor and said there wasn’t any one thing that drove the bids that high. “We want to move forward but our recommendation is to reject these bids and look for ways to restore this project.”

Mayor Goedde said they should sort out the bids out and come back as a later date. Youngren replied that coming back a year later could result in an even higher price.

Councilman Ty Witt remarked that the price per square foot prices are becoming unattainable for a lot of projects. Youngren added that out of town subs were less expensive but that the local subcontractors were killing the City. “They are crazy,” remarked Youngren. He promised to broaden the bidders net in hopes of finding better bids, but Witt reminded him and the Council that with Hospital and Community Center construction in the near future. “All three bidders were within one percent of each other.”

Hollingsworth added that it will be a crazy busy season for this coming year. Erin McCardle if there was some connection between the public works building and the proposed parks maintenance building that could be combined. Olson added that the City’s three building projects might be better to be rolled into one project. Jamtgaard added that changing the look of the building and getting rid of glass could change the bids dramatically.

Mayor/Council Comments:

Chris Baker asked if the bids on the proposed construction would go down based on the economy. Youngren replied they would.

Peter Jamtgaard complemented Jake Youngren on his work and said he feels the frustration on the building issue. “We will get there.”

Ty Witt reported that the DOE grant for the glass crusher has been approved but that it has a timeline on it indicating they need a more completed performa on the project which he will provide to the Council at the next meeting.

Erin McCardle attended the recent Port of Chelan County meeting and said that Washington has received $240 million more for small business in the second round.

The Port will apparently be using a Artificial Intelligence Portal for this second round instead of local recommendations. She said that $150 million will be used to help maintain businesses that have stayed the course and $90 million for businesses who had to close. The funding cycle opens in mid March and that a lot of effort will be there to push applications.

McCardle added that 80 percent of the businesses have no on-line presence and she hopes to help bring 10 to 15 more businesses up on-line.

The Port Economic group were surprised that the Glass Recycling Project didn’t ask for some of the $17 million they had available to loan. “I’m not sure where the disconnect happened,” said McCardle. “The Rotary Glass group should tap into this.”

Tim Hollingsworth stated that that the Rotary Club’s glass recycling group has been talking to Public Works about a collaborative effort. Hollingsworth also asked about the PUD boat launch and school parking issue. Mayor Goedde replied he hadn’t heard back from Barry DePaoli. City Administrator Wade Ferris remarked that the City is researching the liability issues and looking at options.

John Olson said that ReRuns is interested in helping hall crushed glass and reminded the Council that the City is only 94 days away from Memorial Day.

Servando Robledo said that Public Works should reassess its building plans and consider combining the building projects into one building. “It’s time to reconsder,” said Robledo.

Mayor Bob Goedde encouraged the Council to watch the Destination Development series on making the community sustainable. He also mentioned the possibility of utilizing a cadre of ambassadors to help with the tourism issues.

Wade Ferris said the staff was talking about plans for the summer rush and the need to come up with a real plan so when the City rolls into Memorial Day they are not reacting but being proactive. McCardle asked if the Bridge jumping issue was also being looked at and Ferris replied that it was.

Two individuals have requested that they be forgiven portions of the City bills.

John Olson mentioned Mike Richardson who is an owner of the building on the NE corner of Wooding and Emerson. H suggested that the City split that bill and refund 50 percent to her. He added that she is a part of the Kelly family and mentioned all the good things they have done in the community over the years.

Hollingsworth said he is worried about setting a precedent. “It’s pretty subjective.” McCardle added that the City has gotten into hot water over these types of issues before and that the Council needs to take the emotional side out of it.

Jamtgaard thought that a certain amount of grace is appropriate in some of these situations. McCardle stated that the City needs to have a policy on this so they know what and what they cannot do. Hollingsworth added that a consistent policy would be helpful.

The City’s next meeting is a workshop that will begin at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, at 4 p.m. The City encourages people to attend City Council meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month beginning at 6 p.m.

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