Planning begins for winter chalet at golf course
Plans for Heal Creek recreation area progress despite sticking points
By Jared Raney
With the Heal Creek property purchase agreements set to close in December, plans are moving forward, if slowly, to expand the winter portion of the four-season recreation area.
Joel Knutson, de facto project manager and ‘Idea Man’ of the Heal Creek project, spoke with the City of Rhinelander Golf Course Commission on Tuesday, a conversation that centered around the use of the clubhouse as a chalet for skiers and hikers in winter months.
“My plans are to mimic what we had started last winter with the success of the open houses,” Knutson said. “I would like to see the clubhouse, as a public entity, open primarily on weekends, beginning post-Christmas. With the additional possibility of limited evenings, perhaps on a biweekly Wednesday.”
The Heal Creek project began last fall when Oneida County, who owns the parcel adjacent to the city-owned Northwood Golf Club, decided to put the land up for sale. Proposals were submitted by two parties, a conjoined proposal by the Town of Crescent and City of Rhinelander, which became known as the Heal Creek Proposal, and a pure cash offer by the Hodag Sports Club.
Last spring, the two groups came to an understanding, wherein the Sports Club would purchase and own the property, but would sign easements allowing the Heal Creek group to develop the land as a recreational area.
Concerns from golf committee members centered around the effect of winter use on the clubhouse, and how a Golf Club already struggling to make money can afford the maintenence.
“We don’t have it in our budgets to maintain off-season,” said Northwood’s golf pro Dan Buckley. “This is all doable, but we do just want to put these words out there so we can work through it.”
“We’re always so concerned about the negative that we’re losing sight of what needs to happen to keep the positive going,” Knutson said. “The absolute most important thing is that a warm facility, for families to be able to spend an entire day out at a community asset, is [available].”
After lengthy discussion, the golf committee approved moving ahead with creating agreements for the use of the facility in winter months.
“So you may not get all the bells and whistles this year, but we’ll just keep working on it until we get where we want to go,” said Tom Kelly, chairperson of the golf committee.