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Archive for Wednesday, January 29, 1992

GOLF COURSE PLANS SATISFY CITY

January 29, 1992

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Golf course developer Jeff Gazaway survived a few tense moments Tuesday and eventually weathered the first of his reports to the Lawrence City Commission on his plans for creating a public course east of Lawrence.

The battle lines were drawn before the meeting started, when Commissioner Bob Schumm said publicly that he wanted detailed financial information on the course. Gazaway maintained that the information was private.

In the end, however, the commission was satisfied with Gazaway's presentation.

"My feeling is that Jeff Gazaway has done what he said he would do," Commissioner Bob Schulte said. "My inclination is to continue in the direction he's going."

The presentation was the first of three the commission has requested to gauge Gazaway's progress on creating a public course near his driving range on Kansas Highway 10. The site is three miles east of Lawrence.

Last fall, commissioners put off plans for creating a city-owned course in hopes that Gazaway could build his course, satisfying local need for affordable and accessible golf.

SCHUMM HAS championed the concept of a city-owned course, and asked commissioners last fall to schedule the dates for the progress reports.

As requested by commissioners, Gazaway presented a survey of the proposed course at Tuesday's meeting and shared preliminary plans for the course.

Gazaway also ran commissioners through the course hole by hole, explaining along the way its special features, such as abundance of water and narrow tee boxes.

Schumm eventually took center ring and peppered Gazaway with questions about his plans for the course, potential investors, soil conditions and drainage problems.

Schumm also questioned Gazaway's predictions that he could finish the course by fall of 1993 for under $2 million.

Schumm later explained his motives for grilling Gazaway.

"THERE ARE a number of people who are very interested in a municipal course in Lawrence, so I think we owe it to the public to continue to go forward on either your (Gazaway's) course or a municipal course," Schumm said.

Other commissioners seemed satisfied with Gazaway's answers.

He defended his $2 million estimate, saying that most golf course construction is hampered by the costly removal of rocks. "Out here, it's topsoil for 30 feet."

Schumm then tried to set a list of requirements for Gazaway's next report to the commission, including certified proof of financing for the course and any signed contracts for course construction.

Gazaway went on the defensive and resisted being tied to certain commitments.

"I'M NOT saying that I'll have it all tied up by May," he said.

Mayor Bob Walters tried to diffuse the tension between Schumm and Gazaway by finding the middle ground.

"We're not going to compel you to do anything," Walters told Gazaway. "These are just things that we suggest would be useful information."

"My position is that we need another golf course," said Commissioner John Nalbandian. "The more you bring us (at the next report), the less interest I'm going to have in the city building a golf course."

Gazaway responded, "I just want to work with the commission if I can."

Commissioners set a list of five items they would like to see from Gazaway at his next report, scheduled for June 9:

A conditional use permit for the course.

Any proof of financing for the course.

Any signed contracts for construction of the course.

Proof of land ownership or authority to use the land.

A timetable for development of the course.

"If you brought us all five things, I'd say you are definitely going to build a golf course," Schumm said.

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