Upgrade project moves forward

By Jonathon Ambarian - MTN News

Helena civic leaders have chosen an architectural firm to start work on plans to upgrade the clubhouse and pro shop at the Bill Roberts Golf Course. During their Monday evening meeting, City Commissioners gave City Manager Ron Alles approval to negotiate a contract with Mosaic Architecture of Helena.

It will cover only the first phase of the project, identifying what the new facility should include and what it will cost. City leaders called for proposals in October, and they received six responses. Administrators interviewed two of those firms, and ranked Mosaic as the best. Helena Parks & Recreation director Amy Teegarden says the upgrades will allow the golf course to expand its services and raise more money. She says the city consulted with the National Golf Foundation to see what changes could help with those goals.

Currently, the clubhouse and pro shop are in separate buildings. The course can’t sell food for several months a year because the clubhouse isn’t designed to be operational during winter. Teegarden says groups that come to Bill Roberts for tournaments often go elsewhere to host their banquets and other events. Administrators want a new building to house both the pro shop and clubhouse. It would include a larger kitchen with year-round food and beverage service. There would also be enough space to bring in multiple golf simulators and allow the course to host more tournaments and corporate outings.

Teegarden says that she, golf course staff, and the city Golf Advisory Board will work closely with Mosaic during the planning process to come up with a design that is affordable. “We want to do this smartly, and we want to be able to provide a good product for our golfing customers,” she said.

Also during the Monday meeting, city commissioners approved raising fees at Bill Roberts, starting next year. A unrestricted season pass will be $40 to $65 more expensive for most golfers. The course will eliminate its discounted passes for students, but make those discounts available to everyone ages 18 to 29. Daily green fees, cart leases and simulator charges will also be higher. Teegarden says that increase is not linked to the clubhouse project, which would be funded through loans. But since the upgrades are intended to bring in more money, she says they could help keep fees manageable in the future.

Bill Roberts is an enterprise project, meaning it doesn’t receive taxpayer money; Teegarden says that makes it important to run the course like a business. City leaders hope to have the first phase of planning for the upgrades completed by March. If commissioners decide to move forward with the project, it could break ground as early as September.

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