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Golf course ownership handed back to city

By Jeffrey Pieters

jpieters@postbulletin.com

The Rochester City Council accepted ownership of a northeast Rochester golf course on Monday under a legal agreement intended to minimize the city’s financial risk of losing the property because of a developer’s unpaid construction costs.

The par-33 "executive-style" golf course is scheduled to open in northeast Rochester in May.

The course is on 48th Street Northeast, where developer Dick Argue of Zumbro Falls has been at work on a housing project, named Hadley Creek.

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Argue’s company, Hadley Valley Partners LLC, has an outstanding bill due to Griffin Construction of Chatfield. He owes for $458,000 worth of excavation work, and Griffin placed a $561,000 lien on the property, including the golf course.

The excavation work needed ran well over budget, Argue said, and his company doesn’t have the income yet to pay it. He has until June to resolve the issue before Griffin may take him to court over the lien.

"I intend to solve it," Argue said. "I just haven’t solved it yet."

He didn’t want the complication of the handover to mar the occasion.

"I think you ought to feel really good," he said, "because you’re taking back the golf course."

Besides the course itself, the development includes a clubhouse, driving range, putting green, and a practice chipping facility described as being the only one of its kind between Chicago and Denver.

Around the golf course, Argue is building a housing development, Hadley Creek. He developed the course in exchange for city land for his development. He is contributing $10,000 per lot he sells to form a $1.5 million endowment for the city park system.

The previous agreement between Argue and the city called for the developer to transfer the property back to the city free of liens and other obligations. The new agreement is a "hold harmless" agreement, intended to protect and indemnify the city against any liens.

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However, if Griffin Construction proceeds to court to seek payment from Argue, the city would be empowered to take other properties from Argue to compensate its loss. It’s not perfect security, but it’s better than nothing, said Dave Goslee, assistant city attorney.

"The city does have some risk involved in this whole overall program," Goslee said. "Probably the best thing would be for Mr. Argue to continue and have a good development out there."

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