Projected clubhouse renovation plan comes in under budget, gets Council approval

Renovation of the Devine Municipal Golf Course clubhouse is set to begin soon after the Devine City Council approved a construction cost proposal of $330,902 during a Special meeting held May 14.
Architect Lyndsay Thorn of Thorn Graves pointed out that the figure, submitted by Wells Construction, is nearly $20,000 under the $350,000 cap that Council set in the January 8 Special meeting where it approved architectural and design plans for the clubhouse remodel.
The proposal calls for the interior of the clubhouse to be transformed into restaurant, lounge, and meeting area that can be rented out for parties or other functions as is the case with the George S. Woods Community Center. It includes money allocated for signage and landscaping, but none for furniture or repairing the parking lot.
District 5 Councilman Cory Thompson questioned both the architectural fees and the overall cost of the project, including work the City has already done, such as re-tiling the floor.
“I’m going off memory, but we’re sitting close to $400,000, if not more than $400,000, on this remodel,” Thompson said.
During the Jan. 8 meeting, Thorn estimated that purchasing furniture and leveling and paving the parking lot would bring the cost of the project to between $500,000 and $515,000.
Thorn said he would put together a spreadsheet of the architectural costs for the Regular meeting on May 21.
“By then I should have a number for some furniture vendors that I have so that we can plop that number in,” Thorn said.
District 4 Councilwoman Jennifer Schott said that the project would probably end up costing around $500,000, something that Thompson said was a hard sell with the golfers in his district.
“They want the greens fixed,” Thompson said. “That’s all they want.”
Under the Devine Golf Association’s management of the course, a number of greens were redone using a mixture of soil that contained too much clay, which damaged the greens’ health and playability.
Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez said that a number of players from out of town who had not played the course in years because of poor management and upkeep had returned to play in a recent tournament and were impressed with the course’s improvement, while some local former DGA members are not.
“There are constant problems because they’re always complaining,” Rodriguez said. “They’re telling Ruben [Chapa, Golf Course Superintendent] when to mow, when to do the leaves, and he knows how to do all of that. He worked at a country club and did all of that. But the people that come from out of town, they’re happy.”
Thompson said he has reminded players in his district that the course has improved significantly since the City took over.
“I have tried to work with them to try to get them back,” Thompson said. “For lack of a better term, they are just boycotting the whole situation.”
Rodriguez indicated that the discontent extends to how the City manages the course’s books.
“They want us to just do it the way [the DGA] used to do it,” Rodriguez said.
Mayor Bill Herring said the City can’t rely on solely on money brought in through memberships and people playing rounds.
“We’ve got to have a secondary source of income,” Herring said.
Rodriguez reminded Council that the complete rehab of the course would be a process, and that the City is following the recommendations given to them by United States Golf Association Agronomist John Daniels, who toured the course on August 3, 2018.
Thompson said that there are people in District 5 who “want to see the golf course go away entirely,” and that he wanted to follow up on Schott’s recommendation from a previous meeting to set goals and benchmarks for the course.
“I just want to have more of a roundtable kind of discussion,” Schott said. “What we all want for the golf course, and what we envision it to be and timelines and time frames. And not just ‘okay, in five years,’ but next year or in six months.”
Rodriguez suggested incorporating that into upcoming workshops for the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget.
District 3 Councilman David Espinosa acknowledged that there is work to be done throughout Devine.
“There’s a pattern that’s got to be followed,” Espinosa said. “You can only do so many things at a certain time.”
A motion by Espinosa and District 2 Representative Steve Lopez to approve the $330,902 construction proposal passed 3-1, with Schott voting for and Thompson against.
District 1 Councilman David Valdez was absent.
Thorn’s promised cost spreadsheet, as well as discussion of the cost of repairing seven damaged greens, was on the agenda for the Regular meeting set for press day on Tuesday, May 21.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer