By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Portales City Councilors gave the OK at a special meeting Tuesday to participate in a study that could transform the Portales Country Club golf course into an 18-hole private/public course.
Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. told councilors that he and City Manager Debi Lee were invited to participate in a discussion with the PCC board on a possible partnership between the two entities that would expand the golf course and provide more public play in Portales.
“They felt water was really a main concern of theirs and that’s why having the city involvment was important,” Ortega said.
Ortega said the project would likely require the city taking over irrigation of the course. PCC would also need at least 40 of the 150 acres adjacent to the course which is owned by the city. The PCC board said that they might be interested in purchasing the entire parcel.
Ortega said that in addition to the golf course expansion, PCC wants to develop golf course homes on some of the land.
PCC board members have Williams Golf Architects of Abilene, Texas, ready to do a master plan and preliminary design. The cost of that work is $7,500; the city would split that cost with PCC.
Discussions four years ago about golf course expansion had centered around using effluent, particularly from DairiConcepts, as a method of irrigating the course, said Ortega. Lee reported that her investigation into that idea showed that it wasn’t feasible.
Councilor Mike Miller said he recognized the benefit for having an 18-hole course but didn’t know if the numbers would be feasible for either party — and certainly not alone.
“The club probably can’t do this on their own,” Miller said. “If they could they would probably keep it a private club. I don’t think the city could begin to afford to have an 18-hole course of its own.”
Ortega said he wanted to emphasize being cautious about the sale of the property. He said it was an important piece and he doubted that selling the whole parcel was wise.
Shawn Watson, the city’s newest councilor, suggested that maybe one option would be to lease the land for the course expansion and sell the residential development property.
“That way we’ll still have a card in the hand, and they’re not making all the rules,” Watson said.
Public works director Tom Howell said the city has 4,000 acre feet of water rights available that could potentially be utilized for a well.
“I think the water is going to drive whether or not this thing is feasible,” Lee said.