Grand Lake Rec District reorganizes
March 10, 2009
Heading into the spring season, the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District has undergone a reorganization of personnel, eliminating two positions following a three-month budget overhaul.
Golf Operations Manager-Head Pro Don Campbell and Restaurant Manager Laurie Blecich both were replaced by a newly created position: The director of enterprise operations.
Taking over those responsibilities formerly held by Campbell and Blecich is Stephanie Birkmeyer of Tabernash, hired to the district last month.
“She was really hired for her management experience,” said district president Jeremy Kennell, “her management experience, her expertise, her background in marketing. She is just a very well-rounded individual, which was what we were looking for.”
All district employees were invited to apply for the new position, he said.
The restructuring was made for budget reasons.
The newly created position is full-time, year-round in place of two full-time seasonal positions.
The board opted to go in this direction rather than refill a general manager position vacated by Bill Widener last year.
Birkmeyer has lived in Grand County three years and has worked as director of catering and in the hospitality industry for 20 years, including positions as a golf tournament specialist.
The district’s newest director said she is in the process of interviewing individuals ” from apprentices to pros ” for a PGA professional position at the golf course.
Directors Allen Brown of the maintenance department, Lisa Debevec of general recreation, Janice Peck of the touring center/ trails coordination and Bruce Crutcher of district administration head up departments alongside Birkmeyer. All department heads report to the district board.
“My goal is to make sure each of our guests are happy when they leave,” said Birkmeyer, “and that as a team, we go above and beyond every day for them. I am very excited for a fantastic season.”
In an effort to attract more golf clientele, the district slashed golf prices for the upcoming season and eliminated the five-day all-day and five-day half-day passes.
Where a seven-day all-day pass used to be $795, it is now $550.
Seven-day half-day passes are priced at $350.
“We wanted to increase our membership and we wanted to price it for locals,” Kennell said. “We wanted to offer affordable golf.”
After funds were spent on beetle-killed tree removal and other projects, about $1 million is left from the district’s $3.6 million bond passed in 2006.
The district aggressively moved funds into safe interest-bearing accounts at the onset of the banking crisis, Kennell said, to ensure all funds remain protected.
Back when the bond was passed, the bond committee had anticipated it would cot $350,000 to update the district clubhouse.
The district is now undertaking that project, and although it has secured an architect (Scott Munn of Munn Architecture, Granby) and a pre-construction contractor (Kent Zastrow of Zastrow Building Enterprises, Granby), how much the board intends to spend on a clubhouse renovation has yet to be confirmed.
According to Kennell, the board’s aim is to find a balance between updating the clubhouse and making needed improvements to the golf course for enhanced play.
“We certainly feel that taking some of that money and investing it back into the golf course, given the golf course does bring in a tremendous amount of revenue, is a great investment,” he said. “If we can make the playability of the golf course better, we should be able to bring in more revenue.”
Priorities on improving the clubhouse include repairing the roof, improving the entranceway, opening up spaces, adding decks, improving bathrooms and improving the structural and mechanical elements. Another goal is to improve the clubhouse’s energy efficiency, Kennell said.
Beyond those key reasons for the renovation, the jury is still out on what can be added to the scope of the project in a yet-to-be-defined budget, Kennell said. After the pre-construction phase when more answers will be available about costs, the district plans to seek input from the public regarding the scope of clubhouse renovations, he said.
For actual construction, the district plans to then re-bid the project. The clubhouse remodel is scheduled to start next fall.
“We’re trying to make the best investments with the bonds, and make sure the district is going to get better facilities across the board,” Kennell said.
With the reduction in trees after a massive tree-removal effort, the district’s small snow groomer was ill equipped to maintain trails given increased winds, Kennell said.
The district purchased a new $140,000 groomer with bond proceeds to replace its smaller one, allowing the district to “groom every trail, every day.”
A reduction in touring center pass prices, the district’s new groomer and completion of slash-burning projects all contributed to greater Nordic ski numbers this year. “We had one of our best seasons ever,” Kennell said.
Conservation of land
The district is also looking into placing 80-acres of district-owned property into a conservation easement through the Middle Park Land Trust.
The inaccessible land on the western side of the district includes the Colorado River.
The remainder of district land, about 300-plus acres, is deeded through the Bureau of Land Management.
District board members are still exploring what could be included on the 80 acres of district property once it’s in a perpetual easement ” such as trails, bridges, a golf course, or one or more buildings.
A petition started by former board member Tom Jenkins to recall Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District President Jeremy Kennell has not gone forward, according to the district’s designated election official Kirk Klancke. The time clock for a recall would begin with the election official’s approval of the petition, but according to Klancke, he has never been contacted. “The first step hasn’t taken place,” he said.
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