City Council Votes 5-3 For New Golf Course Management

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – In a matter of weeks, Sioux Falls city golf courses will be under new management.

People packed Carnegie Town Hall to witness a close vote on Tuesday evening after another long night at city council.  Many people even sat on the floor.

Sioux Falls city councilors voted 5 to 3 approving Nebraska-based “Landscapes Unlimited” to oversee three golf courses for the next five years. The city will pay the company $75,000 a year. Equipment and supplies could cost the city another $2 million total over five years, but the city projects golf course revenue will offset those costs and generate a profit for the city in the later years of the contract.

Landscapes Unlimited is expected to start January 19.

Dakota Golf Management oversaw Prairie Green, Kuehn Park, and Elmwood golf courses for the past 23 years.

There are many critics of the bidding process leading up to Tuesday’s decision.

“I was disappointed,” said Greg Neitzert, the Northwest representative. “I thought that the process was flawed and that we really needed to start over, but I’ve been doing this long enough that you don’t take those personally and you move on.”

On the issue of golf equipment and who’s footing the bill, Dakota Golf Management owns all of their golf course equipment, which they originally valued at over a million dollars, but they said they’d accept $750,000. However, financial officials from the city valued it at $450,000.  Taxpayers, some who aren’t even golfers, voiced concerns about footing the bill for new golf equipment.  

The majority of city council members did vote to approve and welcome Landscapes Unlimited.  A request for proposal (RFP) committee, which council members say is currently the law-abiding way to make such a decision, deliberated between multiple companies that expressed interest in managing the city’s golf courses.

“It is emotional and I certainly am sensitive to that but not one of us talked about Landscapes,” said Christine Erickson, an at-large city council member. “Not one of us talked about their qualifications. Not one of us talked about who this company is that won.”

Council members on both sides of the issue did say that they wish they were given more time to carefully make a decision on whether or not to honor the RFP rather than waiting until the end of the year. Dakota Golf Management’s contract with the city expires this Sunday.

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