Shining Mountain gets $300,000 infrastructure reprieve

The Shining Mountain Golf Club has struck a booming $300,000 tee-shot that successfully avoided any difficult financial hazards and other Loy Gulch pitfalls–at least for a temporary period.

However, if the club owners plan to develop any more subdivisions west of Trout Creek, it must foot the bill for major infrastructure improvements.

Last week, the Woodland Park City Council unanimously approved a request by Shining Mountain Enterprises to delay an improvement schedule for Lucky Lady Drive and other related enhancements regarding a 600-foot area (near the 18th hole tee box). The necessary improvements would be tied to the development of any future subdivisions west of Trout Creek.

When the new owners of Shining Mountain, headed by Greg Brown of California, took possession of the 400-acre development in 2006, they unveiled an ambitious schedule for developing a variety of multi-family and single family housing. At one time, the future housing projects proposed would have generated close to 900 new residents. But with the current recession, most of these projects have been stalled.

The request was strongly supported by the staff, who stated that this extension is typical of many development projects. “We believe this is a reasonable request,” said Woodland Park Planning Director Sally Riley.

The council reacted positively to the proposed extension, but raised a few questions about the extent of the improvements remaining. Riley noted that the infrastructure in question deals with a bridge crossing over Trout Creek along Lucky Lady Drive. The cost of the remaining work has been estimated at about $300,000. She noted that the main infrastructure work, the realignment and paving of the mainn 1,400-foot section of Lucky Lady Drive (extending from the 18th hole tee box to Hwy. 67) has been completed and accepted by the city.

However, Mayor Pro Tem Jon DeVaux asked if the city would be adequately protected, if the future residential projects don’t occur. “What guarantees do we have?” questioned DeVaux. “It seems municipal governments get stuck with these projects.”

“It will be secured with the subdivision,” replied Riley.

Councilman Terry Harrison also defended the Shining Mountain request. From both a personal and business perspective, he said he is assured that Brown is fully committed to pursuing the residential projects at Shining Mountain.

Some of these include developments along the 16th hole near Hwy. 67, along with another housing bid that parallels the 10th hole, which once served as a driving range. In addition, many prime trophy-sized lots are proposed along other spacious sections west of Trout Creek also located on the back-nine.

But with the downturn of the economy, most of these efforts have been put on hold. Instead, the club owners have put more emphasis on developing a conference and events center adjoining the clubhouse

In supporting the Shining Mountain request, Harrison also reminded his peers of the plight of this development, prior to the Shining Mountain Enterprises. “We had a real big pain in the rear,” related Harrison.

The councilman was referring to a bad period in the club’s history, when the property was seized by state authorities due to thousands of back taxes that were owed by previous owners. This led to the complete shutdown of the course and clubhouse for two seasons, a development that nearly destroyed the popular, championship-level links.

Since then, the course has been revamped and the clubhouse was redesigned and enhanced with the addition of the city’s first large-scale events center. And this summer, Shining Mountain actually emerged as one of the best-conditioned public golf course layouts in the Pikes Peak region.

In the final vote, the council handily okayed the infrastructure extension. If the council hadn’t taken this action, the course owners would have been required to complete the necessary improvements by this fall, according to a letter submitted by Brown.

Utilities Committee Assignments Completed

Talk about stern competition for a volunteer board for non-voting positions.

Last week, four well-known citizens vied for two alternate spots for the Utilities Advisory Committee. The amazing competition for non-voting spots for this group demonstrates the concerns many in the community have over water resources and future growth issues. The Utilities Advisory Committee deals with water, wastewater and utility matters.

After hearing brief candidate introductions, the council, through a paper ballot process, picked Lee Willoughby and Richard McVey for these spots. Willoughby is a member of the Keep Woodland Park Beautiful Committee and The Harvest Center. McVey, who actually lives in the home once occupied by Bert Bergstrom, has been employed with several well-known local businesses and is a long-time resident. They were the clear-cut favorites over two other contenders, Tim Hall and John Schenk.

Both Willoughby and McVey got the nod mainly because the council appeared to favor candidates who are more regular citizens, compared to those with specialized interests and skills. Hall is a commercial real estate broker, who actually represents the Andrew Wommack Ministries group in their current development bid (see related story). Schenk is strongly involved with the Woodland Park Planning Commission and several other committees, and once served as a former member of the city council.

During a lengthy presentation, Schenk cited a big concern over the need for better communications between the Utilities Committee and the citizens of Woodland Park.

Although appointing Willoughby and McVey to the posts, the council lauded the efforts of Hall and Schenk and encouraged them to participate in the meetings.