Council: No golf, but snow is a go

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2005

The Soldotna City Council approved the purchase of a $176,000 snowblower, but rejected a resolution that would have moved the city a step closer toward considering the purchase of Birch Ridge Golf Course on Wednesday night.

“I assume this vote means the council isn’t interested (in the golf course) period,” said City Manager Tom Boedeker.

Last year the Park and Recreation Advisory Board suggested the council look into buying the course. The resolution asked the city to fund a golf course analysis to evaluate operational costs, the quality of the course and other information that would facilitate the decision-making process.

The analysis would have been a first step in deciding whether it would be in the city’s best interest to buy the course from its owner, Pat Cowan, who would like to retire soon, said Vice Mayor James Stogsdill.

Now that the resolution to fund the analysis has been rejected, the purchase of the golf course will probably not receive serious consideration, Stogsdill said.

“Odds of us buying the golf course are minimal.”

The resolution hit a knot when council member Sharon Moock questioned spending up to $21,000 for the analysis.

However, the council promptly approved the purchase of a new snowblower.

“If you’re not on the ball with snow removal, that generates just about more complaints than anything,” Stogsdill said.

The city has been mulling over the decision to buy a new snowblower for two years.

“(We have been) getting ourselves ready to spend that kind of money,” Boedeker said.

The city’s current primary snowblower was built in 1978, and the city has long been in need of a new one, he said.

The new one can move 50 percent more snow than the old one and should be more reliable, said Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake.

The head on the city’s current primary snowblower, an auger-type, is prone to serious damage when it hits chunks of ice or other hard, large debris, Boedeker said.

“Then you can’t run it,” he said. “It sort of flops around on the street.”

When an auger-type blower head hits chunks of hard debris, the shaft bends and starts to wear out the bearings.

“In very short order after that, you have to take it out of service,” Bonebrake said.

The new blower, a ribbon type, will be less likely to suffer serious damage when it hits debris.

Anchorage and Valdez use ribbon-type snowblowers and have responded with good reviews, Bonebrake said.

The new blower could be delivered as early as February or as late as April, Boedeker said. But the year-long warranty on it will not begin until after the city first uses it.

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