Panel: Thumbs up to lease for 18-hole course

Juneau Assembly to hold a public hearing on proposed Douglas golf course on Jan. 10

Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Juneau's golf enthusiasts are one hole closer to playing on a standard 18-hole course.

At its meeting Monday evening, the Assembly Lands Committee recommended the Juneau Assembly approve a lease with Totem Creek, a nonprofit organized to construct a standard golf course in town.

The Juneau Planning Commission will review the lease next Tuesday. The Assembly is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project Jan. 10.

The lease will allow Totem Creek to develop 274 acres of lands on the west side of Douglas Island near Peterson Creek. The lease also will allow the corporation to purchase 300 city-owned acres for a possible housing development.

To minimize the project's environmental effects, the lease requires the developer to follow 47 conditions stipulated in the permit. The conditions range from site grading, erosion control, wildlife and habitat management and pest control. The city also will designate 263 acres of land along Peterson Creek as a watershed protection area.

The lease will run 35 years, with an option to renew for another 20 years.

City Lands and Resources Manager Steve Gilbertson said the city will lease the land instead of selling it because a lease ensures that the municipality has long-term control over use of the land.

"It is unlikely that any other large tract of land is available for development of a golf course in Juneau," Gilbertson said. "A lease restricts the use of the land for a golf course and requires that it be open to the public."

How much Totem Creek will pay the city for the lease will depend on the golf course's revenues. The city will not charge Totem Creek if it earns below $1 million a year. The city will get 2.5 percent of the Totem Creek's revenues if it takes in $1 million to $1.5 million.

Gilbertson estimates the cost of construction at between $8 million and $10 million. Totem Creek has five years to raise the money; otherwise, the lease will not go into effect.

Peter Metcalfe, president of Totem Creek, said he hopes to raise as much money locally as possible.

"This is going to be one of the biggest recreational facilities in Juneau," Metcalfe said. "Everybody can walk on the property and virtually everybody, from age 8 to 88, can play. A grandfather can be out there to teach his grandson. You don't see that with soccer."

Juneau residents will be charged green fees that are at least 25 percent lower than non-resident fees. In winter, the city will use the golf course for cross-country skiing and other sports that don't damage the turf.

The project started in 1996 when the Assembly authorized the city manager to negotiate a lease with Totem Creek. In 1998, the state issued an Alaska Coastal Management permit with 49 stipulations, mostly on habitat and water quality control. In 2003, the city issued a conditional-use permit with 47 conditions.

"The lease gives Totem Creek another step to build the golf course," Gilbertson said.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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