As Project AWAYSIS prepares to launch construction, attention is spiking this week on plans to caddy up a redesigned golf course next door.
City Project Manager Mike Wilson said he has met with seven golf course designers recently about the project. "We will be looking to select the designer within the next couple of weeks, and as soon as we have the design put together, the project will be put out for bids," Wilson said.
If all goes well, that would allow work on the course to begin in late summer or early fall, hopefully to be completed the following spring.
"The goal is to spread the course out a little bit, give it some new features - maybe bring a little personality to the experience out there," Wilson said.
The design will include a practice green, and an attempt will be made to work a driving range into the new plan.
Meanwhile, plans continue to be refined for development of a new neighborhood of condominiums on the course, overlooking the water.
The city is working on the specifications for the condo complex and a survey of the land. Once that is complete, the process of rezoning the land will begin, with the necessary opportunities for public comment before any final action is taken.
In the past, there has been some concern expressed about the possibility of the city selling public-owned land on the golf course site. "There has not been a huge objection, and I haven't heard much lately, but that was a concern for some people," Wilson said.
While decisions have not yet been made, the simplest approach would be for the city to sell the property the condos will sit on to the developer. A second choice might be for the city to retain the land and lease it long-term to the developer.
The revenue could help to offset some of the AWAYSIS development cost.
In the original AWAYSIS funding plan, it was projected that revenue from sale or lease of condo lots would provide $1 million toward the $30 million total estimated cost of AWAYSIS.
Regardless of land issues, the city will dictate specifications to make sure the condo site meets all of the design standards recently put in place for the East Lakeshore Drive area, and that it will be visually compatible with the nearby lodge hotel.
Plans call for the condos to be developed in conjunction with the golf course redesign work, so the city hopes to have the building developer at work in late summer as well.
The city is calling for a development of at least 30 residential units. "If the developer can figure a way to meet all the design standards on the same amount of land and come up with more units than that, it would probably be fine with us," Wilson said.
Dan Tjaden has been asked to regather the committee he led on the golf course project back in the original planning of the AWAYSIS project. A few additional members will be added. As soon as a designer is selected, the committee and city officials will meet with the designer to provide local input and aerial views of the site.
"I'm really looking forward to the process of seeing the course designed," Wilson said. "Of course, all golfers think they are really golf course designers, and we aren't," he laughed.
"The important thing is to end up with the project that the people want. We will have a very nice-looking course that will provide a nice, interesting playing experience for all levels of golfers and all ages from the children first learning to the senior citizen."
A wetland delineation study has been done on the south end of the course, where plans call for a couple of holes to be laid out in the redesign. "We've done that so that we know where we can go and where we should stay away from to preserve the natural resource of the area," Wilson said.
In other AWAYSIS news, work was started again this week on the removal of the island at Casino Beach Marina, in hopes of completing the project later this week.
The Department of Natural Resources, which manages the state-held site, has done the specifications for dredging out the marina harbor, which will make was for a new boat docking arrangement. The bids will be opened Feb. 15 on that project.
The city, bcdm architects and the DNR continue to work together to plan the new marina development.
"At this point, we are talking about what functions we want to have happen there, which will eventually move toward designing the buildings that will be needed to house them," Wilson said.
All parties fell it will be necessary to have a boat repair service at the site, retail space for supplies and fuel services.
One new addition may be a limited restaurant or a snack bar to provide meals for boaters and anglers.
Visitor cabins of modest design are also still being considered. Current discussion revolves around 10 cabins for the site, according to Wilson.
"Of course, everything being planned at the marina is subject to the DNR being able to find the funding for the project," he added. "I am pretty comfortable feeling that this is going to get done. The DNR has been pretty committed to doing this."