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City commissioners ponder golf course project

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POLSON — The irrigation project on the Olde Nine at Polson Bay Golf Course returned to the forefront at the Aug. 2 Polson City Commission meeting.

In city manager comments, Polson City Manager Mark Shrives said the irrigation job was sent out to bids again, but no bids were received, Shrives said, probably because all the contractors who are skilled at golf course work are busy.

Shrives spoke with bond attorney Bob Murdo about the City serving as its own general contractor. 

“The way we’re putting our funding together, we could do it,” Shrives said. “Philipsburg did it.”

One construction company with the equipment and the crew has a window in their schedule so Polson could hire the company as temporary city workers to complete the project, Shrives said. 

Shrives said the original cost for the irrigation update was $650,000, but if the city serves as general contractor, the price would go down to $550,000. Shrives said he was interested in a consensus from the commissioners since this solution might be the only way to complete the project this year. 

Commissioner John Campbell asked if the project could be held off another year. He also asked why, if the contractor had a hole in his schedule, didn’t he submit a bid for the Polson project?

Shrives replied that Pat Nowlen, golf course superintendent, said the project has been put off for about 20 seasons.

The construction company who could fit the job in did not have the bonding capacity, according to Shrives.  

Commissioners brought up other questions about warranties, whether the company would be available if the project wasn’t finished this fall.

“It sounds risky,” Commissioner Ken Siler said.

“I think it’s too important not to do it right,” said Commissioner Stephen Turner. “Don’t rush it.” 

The consensus was to wait until next year. 

Shrives had news about the city well being drilled. Drillers are down 295 feet and have hit two lenses of water producing roughly 300 gallons of water per minute, Shrives said. The test for minerals, such as manganese and iron, came back great.

Because the city’s well is the deepest on the west shore, the engineer would like to drill down to 500 feet to see if there are additional water holes. 

The original bid was $89,000, and so far the project is $5,000 under budget, Shrives said. To drill another 200 feet would cost $11,000, and to complete the well would be another $28,000. 

“If we hit water, that’s about $50,000,” Shrives said. 

Overall costs of $118,000 and $151,000 were set aside out of local reserves for the well.

The decision needs to be made, because the drilling equipment is sitting idle.

Commissioners had many questions, including at what volume of the flow the tests for iron and manganese were run? Was 350 gallons per minute adequate for future uses enough? Why do the drilling and spend the city’s money to provide research for others?

Mayor Heather Knutson asked for a cost benefit analysis. 

Shrives told the commission he would get answers to their questions and a special meeting could be held to make a decision on whether to continue drilling. 

In other business, Shrives announced the first public meeting of the Economic Development Council would be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 in the Polson Middle School lunchroom. 

The commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Dennis DeVries as city judge, succeeding A. Doug Olson, who retired recently after 12 years serving as Polson’s judge.

The next city commission meeting will be Aug. 17.

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