City golf course may lose parking lot
Changes could be under way for the Bijou Golf Course by the time the city opens it for business on April 1, weather permitting.
Golfers may be forced out of the Fairway Drive parking lot and into parking along the street, as it appears negotiations with parking lot property owner Knox Johnson have broken down. City leaders will speak about the issue today.
Johnson, who has leased the lot to the city for 18 years, wants improvements made on the land, but the city can’t afford the price tag. The one-year lease that costs about $14,000 a year expired in November.
“We’re not going to foot that bill (of improvements),” City Manager Dave Jinkens said.
Johnson has mentioned wanting to see a community center, restrooms and landscaping upgrades called best management practices.
“I think the golf course deserves a public restroom. Somebody has to pay for it. The city needs a better image,” Johnson said. “I could pay for the improvements, but I want my money back.”
The 15-acre golf course makes about $250,000 a year.
“It doesn’t make sense to invest in his property,” Community Development Director Teri Jamin said.
Johnson contends the city has stopped negotiating with him, but officials dispute the claim. Johnson has since installed a lock on his property.
If the city elects to use Fairway Drive for parking, a longtime neighbor and even the golf course Superintendent Stan Bobman fear the situation could be unsafe.
Bobman is torn on how the matter should be handled. He believes Johnson “always holds the city hostage with the parking lot,” but Fairway Drive may not be the ideal alternative.
“It’s dangerous. That’s the only thing,” he said. Motorists speed up and down Fairway Drive, which has a speed limit of 25mph.
Neighbor Elisa Chriss doesn’t think it’s a good idea either.
“I don’t see how they’re going to park there. There’s not that much room,” Chriss said.
Other possible plans down the road
The city has also talked about moving or rebuilding a clubhouse and maintenance facility at Bijou Community Park off Al Tahoe Boulevard. And holes 1, 8 and 9 of the nine-hole course may also be moved there to help restore the northern end of the meadow for environmental reasons. Subcommittee member Hal Cole and TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub have had informal discussions about the potential move, Jamin said.
Parks Commissioner Jerome Evans said there’s a remote possibility one basket on the disc golf course may need to be moved, but Jinkens said “that probably won’t happen.”
As the city updates its parks and recreation master plan, Evans has developed a list of priorities for the city parks he plans to submit to the City Council. The sampling includes:
— Resurfacing South Tahoe Middle School tennis courts.
— Upgrading the El Dorado Beach boat ramp parking lot.
— Building a boardwalk from Tahoe Keys to Lakeview.
— Adding a second skateboard facility.
— Revamping the South Tahoe Track and Field Facility.
— Renovating the city-run Campground by the Lake and recreation area.
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