The future of Litchfield Golf Course continues to bounce around like a tee shot on a hard fairway.
Litchfield City Council, during its meeting Jan. 18, discussed again the state of the municipally owned golf course and clubhouse, as well as negotiations with Litchfield Golf Club Inc., the nonprofit entity that runs the clubhouse, on a separation agreement.
By the end of a presentation by Councilor Eric Mathwig, who along with Councilor Betty Allen has been negotiating a separation with GCI board, a quick resolution seemed unlikely.
But there were pleas from both sides to find a way to work together toward a solution.
“We need to work with them,” John Carlson, the City Council’s newest member said. “They want the same thing we want. They want the golf course to be a nice course, well-run and profitable. At least I’m assuming that’s what they want.
“We’re all on the same team,” Carlson added later.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the Council, GCI president Carl Minton said that the group’s board of directors unanimously approved a resolution to suspend negotiations and continue to operate under terms of a 2013 contract.
“We look forward to working with the city in the future on our mutual interests,” Minton said.
Minton’s letter was provided as an addendum to the City Council’s agenda packet. Mathwig said he received the letter during a Jan. 13 meeting with Golf Club Inc. representatives.
After receiving the letter, Mathwig said, he twice asked GCI’s negotiating team if they wanted to see a copy of the city’s separation proposal. After twice saying “no,” they relented and agreed to review the proposal.
“What they originally saw, they liked,” Mathwig said of the proposal, which included details of city investment in improvements to the clubhouse, as requested by GCI representative Pete Kormanik at the Council’s first meeting in January.
Total of the investments made in 2020 — which included $62,250 in membership reimbursement from 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 — was $195,766.06, according to the agreement.
Mathwig said he asked the GCI representatives to present the city’s proposal to the entire Golf Club Inc. membership, and while they initially indicated that could be done, Minton called Mathwig the next day and said that would not happen.
“They told us flat out that the proposal was not going to go to the membership,” Mathwig said, but would instead go to the GCI board, whose members would decide if the entire membership would see it.
The fact general membership would not see the proposal was troubling, Mathwig said.
“Personally, from me, as a member (of GCI) …if I wasn’t sitting in this chair … I would not know what’s going on,” he said.
“It is their decision, but I feel it’s a huge decision, and I feel the membership should be involved,” Allen added in agreement.
Councilor Darlene Kotelnicki said that if GCI was going to continue with the 2013 agreement and nothing was changing, “the board should be entrusted” to make that decision.
At-Large Council member Ron Dingmann, serving as acting mayor in Mayor Keith Johnson’s absence, asked whether Mathwig and Allen had negotiated the portion of golf membership fees that the city pays to GCI.
“No,” Mathwig said. “We were only put together to negotiate a separation.”
And that seems to be a sticking point for GCI representatives. In one discussion, GCI’s Minton said that every discussion has been about transition, and wondering “why is there not an option of us working together like we used to,” Mathwig said.
But the “working together” portion is outlined in the separation agreement, Mathwig said, and “our negotiation team was put together to work on a separation.”