On Monday night some Glen Ellyn trustees were shocked to hear the new estimated construction cost for improvements to Village Links of Glen Ellyn would cost $6.3 million, instead of the previous $3.3 million price tag.
Many Glen Ellyn trustees had harsh comments for village Recreation Director Matt Pekarek regarding the new price tag to update the municipal-owned golf course and the revenues he expects to bring in because of those updates.
In January, the board awarded bids for engineers to begin devising a layout, mock-up of the potential improvements to the clubhouse and course. The improvements include a new patio, dining hall, bar, banquet area and more parking. However, some of these improvements are already on the chopping block since Pekarek and village staff are working to trim down the $6.3 million cost.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the [$6.3] million number," said Trustee Carl Henninger during the meeting.
Pekarek says stormwater management is driving up the cost. The course sits in a flood plane and the land is used as a way to deal with stormwater that would otherwise flood other parts of the village. To accomodate for these required project components, Pekarek and his staff are willing to defer other portions of the upgrades until a later date when funding becomes available. Those cost-saving measures include, replacing the metal roof with shingles; eliminating some bar, kitchen equipment; deferring cart storage building; allowing village staff to perform some work in-house. These cost saving ideas could trim $1.8 million from the price tag.
On numerous occassions trustees Pete Ladesic and Peter Cooper voiced concern about the revenue projections these improvements could capture.
"I think the worst mistsake we can make is to do this improvement [thinking] that it's going to be self-sustaining based on the numbers that we've seen," said Cooper.
Cooper says the village needs to have an "open and candid" conversation about whether or not it should use taxpayer dollars to help fund the improvements, in addition to the current plan of using the course's cash reserves and general obligation bonds.
"I don't want to see us in a situation where we have beautiful facility that everybody loves but now we have to pay for it," said Cooper.
But Pekarek disagrees with Cooper and feels the current revenue projections are conservative.
"Rather than be too optimistic we've taken a current approach there. We've tried not to make things too rosy there," said Pekarek.
A large portion of the improvements hope to capture new revenues at the clubhouse through food service, a historic loser for the course. Since 2006 the food service division has lost $156,065 -- according to Patch's original investigation -- but is subsidized by surpluses created over time by other course operations.
Ladesic's biggest concern is keeping the kitchen the same and expecting a greater output of services without expanding the kitchen.
Trustee Robert Friedberg was upset with the most current update from Pekarek and it's lack of decision points for trustees to consider. Friedberg felt the board was taken off guard by this new price tag with no reason as to why and then pressured to make a decision about moving forward in time to begin construction this year.
"With all due respect, this is a piece of garbage," said Friedberg.
After numerous times in front of the board Pekarek has faced the same criticism about revenue projections and some trustees would like an expert to review the numbers, despite having hired the National Golf Foundation to review the feasibility of the overall master plan, which includes its own revenue projections. When asked if he was willing to seek a third-party to review the stated revenue projections Pekarek said there are not great options out there to get more opinions.