No traffic improvements will be needed to support Pierce County's planned high-end golf course, public works officials told County Council members as part of a progress report Monday.
The report to the council's Rules and Operations Committee, which gives early review to county budget proposals, included a discussion of everything from traffic impacts and naming rights to taxpayers and hotels.
No decisions were made. But one early sticking point in the planned $20 million, 18-hole golf course apparently is being resolved. The County Council had directed public works staff to get the cities of University Place and Lakewood to agree to pay for any road improvements needed to handle traffic generated by the project.
Both cities have said they don't want to help pay for the project.
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Any new traffic signals or other improvements would occur in University Place, which encompasses most of the county-owned Chambers Creek Properties.
But a draft traffic analysis by Pierce County indicates no improvements will be needed, according to officials. In a letter Friday to County Council members, University Place Mayor Ken Grassi said although the county's traffic analysis is still in draft form "it does not appear that the traffic impacts identified in the report are significant enough to warrant mitigation."
The final traffic analysis will be ready in a couple weeks, said Joe Scorcio, the county's project manager for Chambers Creek Properties.
Tuesday's hearing was intended to update County Council members on efforts to build Chambers Bay - a Scottish links-style golf course on roughly 250 acres of the 930-acre Chambers Creek Properties.
County Executive John Ladenburg is proposing the golf course - and other projects - to rejuvenate a former gravel mine with a Puget Sound view and to pump the local economy.
The county is borrowing money from its sewer utility fund to pay for the design of the course.
The county hopes to begin construction of the course next fall and open it for play in May 2007.
In addition to the traffic issue, County Council members also learned Monday that:
nDesign of the golf course - led by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones II - is 30 percent complete, according to Tony Tipton, project manager for the county. Tipton said the design is a "week behind schedule" but going well enough that it will still be completed by the end of June.
nPierce County and the cities of University Place and Lakewood will pursue adding rental lodging to the golf course project as part of an overall update of the master plan governing development of Chambers Creek Properties. Officials hope to add lodging - and approve a revised master plan - by December.
Councilman Dick Muri (R-Steilacoom), one of two council members who voted in May 2004 against publicly funding the golf course, asked officials whether they considered selling naming rights to the golf course to a major corporation to boost the project's chances of making money.
Tipton said the course is still being designed so its value hasn't been established yet.
Saying citizens often ask him this, Muri asked who will foot the bill for the golf course if it fails - general taxpayers or the county's sewer ratepayers?
Tipton said if the golf course fails then Ladenburg and the council must decide what to do.
Muri asked whether the county's general fund, which pays for services such as sheriff's deputies and the county's jail, will be used to financially back the golf course. "Will that be written into the general obligation bonds?" he said.
Tipton said he wasn't prepared to discuss that issue Monday but that it will be a topic of the next progress report in April.