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After a year in limbo over the status of Mulligans Golf and Games, the South Jordan City Council put the course on par financially.
Designating more than $4.6 million of mostly general fund money, the city's bond on the 67-acre golf course is now retired. The course will start running directly off of sales and profits, said city spokeswoman Tina Brown.
"This will help so that Mulligans isn't running in the red anymore," she said.
South Jordan previously had considered developing or selling the course located on 10600 South by the Jordan River citing subsidies of about $250,000 a year and a growing deficit since the city bought it in 2004. The city hired The Boyer Co. last June to explore redevelopment possibilities, including a now off-the-table bid from Hale Centre Theatre (which will build in Sandy instead).
Save Mulligans, a grass-roots group, responded to talk of developing the open space with protests and community outreach. And a survey conducted by Y2 Analytics contracted by South Jordan found that most residents preferred to leave Mulligans as is, with minor improvements to the services offered. Most respondents also strongly opposed a full redevelopment plan.
But what seems like an end to disagreements about the property may just be the beginning of a new round. Councilman Steve Barnes said paying off the golf-course bond is not quite the hole-in-one it appears at first glance. Barnes voted against the bond payoff and said the city is trying to do some damage control after its clash with residents.
"The decision to pay off the bond," he said, "was a little bit of a political decision to gain favor back with some of the public that they may have lost favor with."
Barnes said the move has little to do with protecting the golf course. He believes paying off the bond may actually make it easier to sell in the future.
With three seats on the six-member council up for election this year and no formal agreement for a long-term commitment, Mulligans' future could be uncertain.
Brown said decisions about Mulligans will be up to the next City Council taking office in January.
"There's always the possibility that it could change," she said. "You never know but the plan right now is to keep it as is and keep it green [space]."
Another hitch in the bond retirement is that the money will have to be repaid to the city's general fund over a long period of time.
Barnes said the city created a repayment schedule one that he called "ridiculous" and "meaningless" because it spans several decades. Had the City Council kept the bond, which had a 14-year term, it would have owed $1.8 million in interest in addition to the $4.6 million of debt.
Barnes, however, believes the city could have refinanced it and saved money in that way. Now that the money is spent, he said, there are no available surplus funds for the city to pay for a needed firehouse or police station.
"We have a lot of financial burdens on our plate," Barnes said. "It wasn't the best use of those funds."
South Jordan Mayor David Alvord could not be reached for comment, but said in a released statement that paying off the bond allows Mulligans to be a "self-sustaining open space for many years to come."
In an online comment he also said the city budget does pay for a new fire station.
Janalee Tobias, an advocate in the Save Mulligans group and a lobbyist for protecting the Jordan River, said she's skeptical of the deal. She wants the city to formalize an agreement so that the golf course can't be bulldozed or sold in the future. Otherwise she said it is just giving residents a "false perception" of security.
"It's clearly deceptive," she said, "to lead citizens of South Jordan into thinking that it's owned free and clear now by the city."
South Jordan plans to celebrate the bond payment with a party at Mulligans on Wednesday.
firstname.lastname@example.org South Jordan throws bond-payoff bash
The city is celebrating the retirement of the Mulligans golf-course bond with an event featuring free games and cake, along with food trucks and giveaways. Mulligans also will be offering half-price admission for miniature golf, the driving range and batting cages.
• Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Mulligans Golf and Games, 692 W. 10600 South, South Jordan