Funding options for the city of Wilmington’s estimated more than $1 million renovations of the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course were presented to Wilmington City Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 18 meeting.
Amy Beatty, Wilmington superintendent of parks and downtown services, said city staff recommended funding the project with $205,437 in unused golf capital project funds and $810,182 from the city’s parks bond balance. Beatty said that would allow the project to begin and end in 2014.
However, taking more than $800,000 from the parks bond balance would leave only $350,479 to cover three other parks projects that city staff identified as priorities. Those projects include a conceptual design of the Northside Waterfront Park, improvements to Buck Hardee Field at Legion Stadium on Carolina Beach Road and possible overrun costs for the construction of Inland Greens off of Eastwood Road. Beatty said an additional $250,000 in alternative funding would be needed to complete those projects.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said he would prefer to take that $250,000 out of the city’s general fund to cover all of the projects.
“These are good investments in our community, and I think we should just take it out of the general fund and pay it,” Saffo said.
Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes agreed with Saffo, as did Councilman Kevin O’Grady, but O’Grady said he was hesitant to continue drawing from the general fund.
Included in Beatty’s funding recommendations were increases for the course’s green fees by 20 percent for fiscal year 2015 and 15 percent in 2016. However, Councilwoman Laura Padgett suggested only increasing the rate by 25 percent the first year with no rate increase in fiscal year 2016 and Saffo expressed his support of the idea.
City council was not required to take a vote on the funding model during Tuesday’s meeting but gave Beatty the guidance to start the bidding process immediately.
After analyzing the highest and best use of the Water Street parking deck, University of North Carolina School of Government director of development finance initiative Michael Lemanski said the best use would be two multiuse buildings with a wrapped parking deck.
Lemanski said market research has shown residential and office use would be viable options for the buildings, and there should be an estimated 625-650 parking spaces. Of that total, 50 percent of the spaces would have to be reserved for the residential units, he said.
The tallest building of the two would be 12 stories, Lemanski said, adding that finding room for public space on the 1.2-acre lot was an issue.
Lemanski said none of the financing or economic impact numbers were presented during Tuesday’s meeting because of the complexity of the figures, but they were finished and could be provided to council.
Deputy city manager Tony Caudle said there is an estimated 50,000 cubic feet of debris left in the city, and the expenditures would likely fall within the $400,000 to $500,000 range.