DIXON – The historic Timber Creek golf course is set to close after failing to secure a $250,000 donation from Lee County Council.
Kreider Services, which serves more than 600 people with developmental disabilities each year, has been working on a public/private partnership in hopes of taking over Timber Creek, raising $1 million for irrigation repairs needed to better maintain the green, and to employ 40 people for every 50 people with disabilities at the facility, Kreider executive director Jeff Stauter told the board on Thursday.
Kreider would become the new owner of Timber Creek after buying it for $1, essentially donating, and they would need about $1 million to replace the irrigation system and pump station as well as dredge the pond.
Plans also included setting up a large outdoor tent to host events for up to 500 people.
[ Kreider Services looks to take over Timber Creek Golf Course ]
The agency, which has partnered with investors such as Jim and Ryan Marshall, raised about $200,000 in private donations and received a $300,000 grant from the state. They are asking for $400,000 from the Dixon City Council and $250,000 from the County Council.
The council rejected the request in August in a 10-11 vote, Kreider officials and supporters contacted the county’s finance and executive committees to reconsider the request last week, and the council rejected the request for reconsideration in an 11-12 vote on Thursday.
“This is a unique opportunity for us,” Stauter said ahead of the vote. “If we can’t do that, there probably won’t be a golf course in Dixon…it’s just the reality of the situation.”
Stauter said a similar model was used on a golf course in upstate New York, and the project would be a neat, inclusive, one-of-a-kind facility for the Midwest.
Although they have other funds in reserve, Stauter said the county is key to their project and he doesn’t believe they would be able to achieve their goal without county support.
Timber Creek owner Ron Keith spoke of the course’s historic value as the land was originally donated by Charles Walgreen and former President Ronald Reagan was a caddy.
Proponent Bob Venier said Timber Creek is more than a golf course; it is also a place for business transactions, partnerships and gatherings.
He also mentioned that it is the only original course remaining in the Lincoln Highway tournament, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and provides a place for golfers from Dixon High School to practice.
The motion to reconsider the funding request was to be made with an initial “no” vote. It was directed by board member Jack Skrogstad, who said he didn’t think it would be something to support with taxpayers’ money, at first, but then thought it would be a good one. community project in which the county would be involved.
Board member Tim Bivins said he initially voted “no” on the project, but changed his mind after more details were presented.
“It’s an economic driver that can be used,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile project and helps people with disabilities.”
The course and venue for the event would provide a sustainable form of income for Kreider, and this is needed because state funding for organizations like Kreider has stagnated for years, said board member Don Vock. by Kreider.
There is also a critical need for more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Manufacturers in the region are hiring fewer people with disabilities, Stauter said.
There are a variety of low-skilled jobs that would be available for people with disabilities, including grounds maintenance, he said.
The current irrigation system is over 50 years old and breaks down regularly. It also clogs, leaks and doesn’t supply enough water to stay on course. Cost estimates to fix the system and make other improvements are at least $700,000 to $840,000.
Dixon City Council did not vote on a donation amount and had not discussed it publicly until Councilwoman Mary Oros joined supporters of the project at the county’s finance committee last week saying that they pledged to donate $400,000.
The board should vote publicly at a board meeting to spend the funds, but may meet in camera if there are no more than two board members at a meeting.
The council is facing criticism from the community for not having a public discussion of the donation. Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said at Monday’s council meeting that they don’t have an official position as a city yet and need a public discussion on the dollar amount.
He later said he was not against the project, but in general large expenditures have to go through a more open process at council level.
[ Dixon Mayor: Large expenses require as much transparency as possible ]
After being closed for a year, Timber Creek reopened in 2019 after owners Ron Keith and his son, Brett, signed a lease with Rick and Brenda Humphrey to help revive the facility after it failed to find someone. ‘one to buy it and keep it like a golf course.
[ Timber Creek revival underway, owners sign lease with Humphreys ]
Timber Creek features an 18-hole golf course, banquet center, Bogey’s Bar and Grill, outdoor pool and tennis courts.
The Keiths bought the old Dixon Country Club as it closed on February 1, 2007, for $1.1 million. At the time, the number of members had dropped to less than 100.
They renamed it and changed it from a private club to a semi-private club, opening it to the public for the first time since its inception in 1915.
They have operated the course at a financial loss for years wanting to preserve it in the community and have competed with municipally run courses in the area which can be subsidized with taxpayer money.