WAVERLY — Elected leaders posed questions Monday, but no concerns were expressed by the public about a proposed city takeover of Waverly Golf & Country Club.
City Administrator James Bronner was peppered with questions for about 15 minutes about the future of the property and the clubhouse if the city took over, and some of the terms of the drafted purchase agreement with the club’s board of directors.
But the city council ultimately approved the deal for the 1.63 acres at 705 Eighth St. SW in a 6-0 vote. Councilor Ann Rathe was absent.
The Waverly Municipal Golf Course and private club “are in no way connected” but “work closely together to provide Waverly with a premier golf and country club experience,” the club’s website states.
They share the same building on the country club property, which is part of the larger city-owned golf course. Although only members have access to the clubhouse, space in the building is rented by the city for the pro shop.
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With the property in the city’s possession, the golf course will be “truly no different” from “any other city-run golf course in Iowa,” Bronner said.
Prior to this deal, “the difference was not having this building” and not controlling food and drink sales, he said.
“It’s really us who can make full use of all the amenities of the course which we should have had a long time ago in my opinion,” he added. “It allows us to compete with other golf courses because at the moment we don’t have that capability because we don’t control food, drink or anything of that nature. Now we will. So that gives us an even playing field.
Councilor Brian Birgen focused on the “commitment” in the contract – “The city will build a new pro shop and facility on the current site” – wondering if the city was ready to take on the big project and if it made sense of the cost.
City would like to include “entire golf course ownership and operations” in planning redevelopment of Memorial Park and future former fairgrounds to the north
Bronner pointed out that the city “would like” to build a clubhouse on the site because “it’s a great location and part of the reason we wanted to accomplish it in the first place.” But he also noted that the contract does not require construction of the new facility.
“There’s no guarantee you have to,” Bronner said. “If a building is remodeled or done, that stipulation was that it would be on site, not that it had to be done.”
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Councilor Matthew Schneider asked how the facility will be operated from 2023 and whether any city policies are in place to “address issues that should be addressed in a business like this, such as sexual harassment.”
Personnel policies are in place to handle such cases, Bronner replied, adding that the clubhouse would be run like any other facility in the city. However, there is no policy for operating a restaurant or bar as Wavery does not currently have one.
“I know there’s been a lot of discussion in the audience,” he said. “I don’t really care about a lot of things that were discussed. It’s about us buying the facility, land and assets – not a crop or anything else – it’s just us buying what we buy.
Like Birgen, Councilwoman Julie Meyers focused on the “additional provisions” subsection of the agreement, specifically, that “the new facility will include a bar and restaurant” and asked Bronner to address the concerns of the public opinion that the installation of the city would take away business from local restaurants and bars.
Bronner deflected any speculation that the establishment would turn into a giant nightclub, running late and operating as a full-service restaurant. Rather, it would serve golfers looking for a meal and drink while playing a round.
“You have some kind of drink. You have a certain type of food. You’re not going to stop your tour in the middle, go downtown, get a burger and fries, come back, have a drink and finish your tour,” he said. “It will not arrive.”
Officials made no direct mention of the recently settled lawsuit between the club’s former chief executive Wesley Gade and the board. Gade alleged that the club’s board failed to respond to complaints from employees about members sexually harassing them. Gade said the board then tried to defame him after he was fired in retaliation for raising harassment issues.
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In June, country club members voted to drop ownership amid financial difficulties and declining membership. But the proposal has been discussed for at least six months, possibly since December, behind closed doors.
The nonprofit has approximately $108,000 in loan obligations. As part of the deal, the city would repay those debts.
Photos: Waverly-Shell Rock host Webster City football, September 9