Friday, March 13, 2009

Survey: Quigley golf low priority

Survey rates bike and ski trails, public access as highest priorities for canyon

Hailey residents are more concerned with hiking, biking and skiing in Quigley Canyon than they are with the prospect of getting an 18-hole public golf course.

That is one of many opinions to surface from a "Citizen Satisfaction Survey" commissioned by the city of Hailey in February. The survey garnered 456 responses.

The Hailey City Council is reviewing an annexation request by developer David Hennessy, who hopes to build the golf course, extensive hiking, biking and ski trails, and 379 homes in the canyon.

The City Council voted this winter to question Hailey residents on their satisfaction with the current level of city services, and where they would like to see improvements.

Hennessy has said the golf course would only be built if the city agrees to annexation, which would allow him to hook up to city services and build three times as many homes in the canyon than he is allowed under county zoning.

The Citizen Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Richard Kaplan Associates, shows that Hailey residents are most interested in rebuilding the rodeo grounds at the southern entrance to town, fixing and building sidewalks, and maintaining alleys.

With regard to proposed projects in Quigley Canyon, Hailey residents give highest priority to new trails and trailheads, new bike paths and expanded Nordic trails. The proposed 18-hole golf course came in fifth, ahead of providing community housing, which ranked last.

Peterson Economics, a consulting firm in Anacortes, Wash., was hired by Hennessy last summer to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed golf course.

The study estimates the course will sell 19,000 rounds of golf in its first year of operation and 24,000 rounds by its sixth year. It projects losses of between $20,000 and $100,000 per year for the course's first two years of operation, an income of $150,000 by the fourth year and a stable income of $360,000 per year by its eighth year.

The study notes that the only existing public-access golf course in the county is at Sun Valley resort, which charges a $155 greens fee. Peterson Economics recommended peak-season greens fees at a new Quigley course to be $40 for local residents and $86 for non-residents.

The next meeting on Quigley is set for April 8 at City Hall in Hailey.

Tony Evans:

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