“That’s what our job is, to listen to the people we represent and I think this is a great indication as to where the community sentiment is,” said Sivarajah. “If people are out (on the course), they’re out there many times on a daily basis (or) many times a week. They’re going to see things that are working or things that maybe are not quite working for them as golfers. Letting us know that up front is going to be helpful, to insure we are headed in the right direction.”
The possible closure and the weeks of uncertainty took many in the North Metro community by surprise.
“I never thought this would ever happen,” said Dave Hoehl, who spoke in support of keeping Chomonix open at the committee meeting. He has been a member at Chomonix since 1988. “It is one of the best courses in the Twin Cities. I thought it was going to be there forever.”
Golf industry insiders also praised Chomonix’s value to the sport and to the economy. TwinCitiesGolf.com president Kevin Unterreiner told the committee his group organized a petition in favor of keeping the course open that included more than 1700 signatures from people in more than 160 different communities across the state.
“I’ve played over 100 different courses around Minnesota. I would put (Chomonix) in my top ten favorites,” Unterreiner told the panel. “It has tremendous potential and we need this course.”
The county’s findings showed that Chomonix had lost more than $600,000 between 2014 and 2018, and it also found that the course and its facilities required more than a $1 million in maintenance in the short term. It is for those reasons that county leaders recommended the course either be sold, the operations be outsourced, or the course and its land be turned into an Anoka County all-season recreational area. The latter would include more mountain bike-centric activities and support, along with expanded banquet and picnic facilities made available. The golf course is almost entirely surrounded by the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve, and it also borders homes along West Shadow Lake Drive that are in Lino Lakes city limits. Access to the course comes directly from and through the City of Lino Lakes, whether by automobile on Aqua Lane or by bicycle on the paths in the park preserve.
City of Lino Lakes leaders, including Mayor Jeff Reinert, were at the Parks Committee meeting in January, and voiced displeasure with the idea that the golf course–considered one of many amenities for city residents–would go away. County leaders took this into consideration when proposing a plan to keep it open.
“One of the things we stipulated to (county officials) is that we want to be informed about how things are going,” said Lino Lakes City Administrator Jeff Karlson. “Getting regular reports from them will be very helpful.”
“That also gives them an opportunity to identify opportunities to really work with us to see what we can do to continue to turn this around in the right direction,” said Sivarajah.
Those at Tuesday’s meeting at Bunker Hills encouraged the county to be more transparent in its communications about the future of the course.
Sivarajah and other leaders talked candidly about whether City of Lino Lakes officials would be able to buy the land from the county if in three years the county decides it can not or should no longer operate the course. The city can not buy it outright based on parks land use and purchase rules.