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Commission votes to remove Boardwalk Outdoor Cafe

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POLSON – Starting this summer, a new city-run concessions operation will replace a family restaurant in Boettcher Park. The Boardwalk Outdoor Café, which has provided food to visitors at Boettcher Park for several years, will be shut down. On April 16 the Polson City Commission voted four to one to build a new food vending building in the park, to be staffed by city employees. The city will require the owner of the Boardwalk Outdoor Café to remove the building that housed the business.

According to the plan that was approved by the commission, the Parks and Recreation Department will build and operate a new concessions stand in Boettcher Park. The parks department currently runs a restaurant at the municipally owned Polson Bay Golf Course. Todd Schock, the city’s food and beverage manager for the Polson Bay Golf Course Restaurant, will manage the new concessions stand. The existing building will be removed and a new one built in its place. Construction and equipment costs will be financed by funds that were budgeted for an irrigation project on the golf course. Parks and Recreation Director Pat Nowlen said he hoped the project would be completed in time to operate this summer. 

According to the commission’s meeting agenda, Tiecha Broussard, owner of the Boardwalk Outdoor Café, offered to sell the building and equipment from her business to the city for $65,000. Nowlen said that six city staff members had inspected the building to assess the viability of this option. According to Nowlen, these city staff found it would not be financially responsible for the city to purchase the building. These staff included David K. Simons Jr., the city’s building official, and Schock.

“City staff has conducted due diligence and analyzed value and viability of building and contents,” Nowlen said. “At this time it is the staff’s recommendation not to purchase the building.”

With the option of purchasing the existing building off the table, city staff developed three possible arrangements for future concessions in the park. 

These options were presented to the Polson Golf Course Board and the Park and Tree Board before the April 16 commission meeting. Both boards voted to recommend the option that would later be approved by the commission. 

Nowlen explained that the approved option was recommended because the money for the project is already budgeted. As a result, the city can start planning for construction immediately. According to Nowlen, this option will also allow the city to have staff in the park to enforce city codes, inspect park shelters, and look after the grounds.

Broussard spoke at the meeting to point out inconsistencies between the requirements of her lease and the action taken by the city. She said that because the city had accepted services in lieu of payment since the last lease agreement, her lease will actually expire on April 30, 2018, rather than May 18, 2016 as the city had stated before. She added that the nonrenewal notice she received was invalid because the city had not delivered in the manner outlined in her contract. “I will be looking forward to a correct nonrenewal lease decision,” she said. 

Jordan Broussard, a member of the family that owns the Boardwalk Outdoor Café said she felt that none of the proposed options took her family into consideration.

“There’s a value in these restaurants that are owned by local families,” she said. “I think we’ve worked too hard and I don’t think we deserve something like this.”

Commissioner Ian Donovan was the only commissioner present who voted against the proposed plan. 

In other city commission business, employees of the municipal Polson Bay Golf Course reported some recent accomplishments to the commission. Cameron Milton, head golf professional, presented on the PGA Junior League, which he coaches.  The league gives local youth the chance to learn to play golf. According to Milton, the program has the most members of any similar program in the surrounding states. He said that the group was one of 5 PGA Junior League groups in the country chosen to be featured in a segment on the Golf Channel. The segment, which he showed at the meeting, was filmed on a snowy day in late March.

Golf Course Superintendent NaTalia Arlint reported that she has been selected as one of 10 turf managers from the United States who will work at the Ryder Cup in France in September. The Ryder Cup is a golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States.

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