Anoka is considering an expensive overhaul of its Green Haven golf course that would include a year-round driving range, winter disc golf, reconfigured fairways and the relocation of an urban road to revitalize the 85-year-old municipal facility and the surrounding neighborhood.

Also on the program: new houses to ring the connections.

“It’s a big ticket,” Mayor Phil Rice said Monday during a special city council business session devoted solely to the project. “It’s a huge investment.”

Initial estimates put the cost of improving the golf course at $6.9 million, a price that would rise to as much as $11 million if everything included in the current concepts is realized.

Some city council members raised concerns about funding for the work and how it would affect other city operations.

The most recent version of the plan calls for a new double-ended driving range with heated bays that would allow players to hit golf balls almost year-round. The new equipment could draw between 50 and 150 people a day and generate revenue starting at $150,000 a year, according to a city memo.

Plans also include revamping some fairways and adding activities such as pub curling, lawn bowling, winter disc golf and other events to increase attendance and revenue. The city has already acquired commercial property on Garfield Road and is negotiating to purchase another. If successful, the city could realign Garfield so that it no longer divides the golf course on the north side.

About 10 years ago, the city adopted the Anoka Greens Redevelopment Plan, which encouraged a long-term commitment to Green Haven and to improving the aesthetics and improving play on the course. Discussion of Green Haven has resumed due to major highway reconstruction nearby. 10 is expected to start this summer, which could make it more difficult for customers to access the course and reduce the number of rounds played. It also coincides with the development of the Highland Park neighborhood of Anoka, which includes a new senior housing co-op.

With all the upheaval coming to the area, council member Jeff Weaver, who is not a golfer, thinks it’s a good time to redo the course.

“If we want to do it, let’s do it and make Green Haven the best it can be,” he said. “I think we should move on.”

Warren Ryan, spokesman for the Minnesota Golf Association, said the sport has been on the rise in recent years, fueled in large part by the pandemic. While other activities have been canceled or reduced, many have seen golf as a safe outdoor activity and new players have returned to the sport, he said.

Municipally-owned golf courses like Green Haven saw 25,394 rounds played in 2018. That number rose to 34,110 in 2020 and 36,738 last year, according to the association’s attendance survey. golf in the state. Additionally, a program that subsidizes youth rounds has grown from around 4,500 children playing to 13,000 over the past three years.

Based on those numbers, “if they’re going to do it, now is the time to do it,” Ryan said.

Rice said the project could make Anoka a better community, but “it needs to be thought about.” He said the Highland Park neighborhood should have nice homes “where people want to live.”

But there’s also some apprehension that the project could tie up a lot of the city’s money and reduce the city’s flexibility to take on other projects.

The city could pay for the Green Haven improvements through a combination that could include selling city-owned land, issuing tax abatement bonds and taking out a $3 million loan from the department. city-owned electric utility.

Electric utility manager Greg Geiger said the prospect of tapping into electric utility reserves made him “nervous”. He said he was concerned that if $3 million was loaned to the golf course, the utility might not have enough money to pay for sudden repairs if a storm or other emergency knocked out a substation. He said the utility is already considering raising prices for customers to cover operational costs that have increased in recent months.

Council member Erik Skogquist said he thought it would be a great project for Anoka, but he didn’t think it was financially feasible to do so at this time.