Council inches forward on Mif plan
Alameda’s City Council inched forward on a plan to turn over operation of the Mif Albright par-3 course to a nonprofit, approving Vice Mayor Doug deHaan’s proposal to set aside money to secure a $250,000 grant to fix up the course but stopping short of finalizing negotiations with the Alameda Junior Golf Association to take over the course.
The council voted unanimously to set aside $100,000 in matching funds to secure a grant from the Wadsworth Foundation that was offered in May and to continue negotiations with the golf association, though deHaan later said he wanted to instead abstain from the vote. Council members also directed city staff to set a special meeting in January to make a final decision about their plans for the short course.
DeHaan had asked the council in October to consider finalizing negotiations with the junior golf association and to accept the Wadsworth grant in order to ensure that opportunity wasn’t lost. “This is a major asset and a major opportunity, and it can only improve from this point forward,” he said Tuesday.
But Mayor Beverly Johnson, who has advocated for a 27-hole configuration on the Chuck Corica Golf Complex instead of the 45 holes there now, said she was concerned approval of the plan to retain the Mif could hamper efforts to ensure the complex succeeds financially. Council members accepted her amendments to deHaan’s recommendation to move forward which included direction to ensure the Mif plan doesn’t impact the complex’s fiscal viability.
“My first goal is to save the golf complex. We can’t just look at the Mif in isolation,” Johnson said.
The council voted in March to negotiate with KemperSports to operate the golf complex on a long-term basis and to negotiate with the junior golf association to take over the Mif Albright course. The association secured $40,000 in funding to operate the course for a year and the Wadsworth grant, which a representative there said would be in place through the end of the year. In June, the association presented a term sheet for running the course that deHaan said addressed the city’s concerns about their proposal, and the group has also authored a business plan that has secured support from Wadsworth and The First Tee, a national youth golf organization.
But negotiations with Kemper have proceeded more slowly. The city didn’t sit down with the company until late August, a meeting that came on the heels of a city request to generate numbers on five fresh configurations for the course, including ones where the Mif was closed. Business terms that Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant had said she’d have ready by July still haven’t been finalized, and Gallant said Tuesday she didn’t expect to have a lease ready for the council when it meets in January to talk about their Mif plans.
Johnson also questioned whether Wadsworth’s offer was cash or included in-kind donations, prompting an angry response from golfers who said it’s the former. Golf Commission president Jane Sullwold also questioned the benefits of what she said is a proposal to give the course to Ron Cowan so the developer can build homes there (Cowan has denied he’s interested).
Golfers on Tuesday asked the council to move forward on the Mif plan, saying they’ve done all they have been asked to do and that they want the course preserved for players young and old. Gail VanWinkle, whose husband drew up a business plan for running the course, brought an artist’s rendering of what the course would look like after renovations.
“It’s out there. It’s waiting for your vote to make it a reality. So please do take this chance and make this dream come true,” VanWinkle said.
Separately, the council voted to move forward on negotiations for both an emergency medical services contract with Alameda County that would keep the Alameda Fire Department in place as the Island’s ambulance service and for a contract with a new ambulance billing provider. The city has been without an EMS contract with Alameda County for five years due to a fee dispute, and county officials said in September that if a contract wasn’t signed by January 3, 2011 they’d yank the fire department’s exclusive right to provide ambulance service on the Island.