MUSCLE SHOALS — The fix to one nagging problem at Cypress Lakes comes with a $289,000 price tag to fix leaks in two ponds at the 18-hole golf course.
The Muscle Shoals City Council on Monday approved the bid to fix the leaks. The city had the option of a $187,850 bid to repair just one pond.
The ponds have been a persistent issue since the city took ownership of the golf and tennis facility one year ago. The city has spent the majority of that year monitoring water levels to determine which ponds were leaking and to what extent.
Rusty Wheeles, the city’s park and recreation director, said monitoring revealed three of the course’s ponds were leaking, but two were more troublesome. Of particular concern was the leaking of the facilities irrigation pond on the seventh hole.
Wheeles said to keep levels high enough to water the grounds, water must be pumped into the pond almost all day, every day. To run the pumps at that constancy would cost the city $15,000 to $20,000 annually.
To repair the leaks, City Engineer Brad Williams said, the water will be pumped out and about 12 to 18 inches of “muck” will be removed. That will be replaced with 24 inches of packed clay.
The clay being used is a money-saver for the city as it will come from the Shoals Research Air Park. Additionally there is about $14,000 built into the contract to repair any sinkholes found during the repair process. If none are found, that is an additional savings for the city.
Work will begin April 1 and should be completed by June 1.
“We are hitting it at a good time because we aren’t having to waste time,” Wheeles said. “If we had to do this during the summer, it would have been even more costly because we would have had to bring in some sort of irrigation system.”
Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford, a staunch supporter of the golf course, which was gifted to the city by Muscle Shoals native and businessman Neil Whitesell, said a permanent fix to the ponds is one more step toward creating a top-of-the-line municipal facility.
To this point, the city course has struggled to break even. In its first six months under municipal control, the course lost $341,800.
Bradford said the facility is still another year away from really performing at its top level, but even though it admittedly has been a struggle, Bradford said adding the facility to the city’s roll remains positive.
“It’s been slow,” he said. “But we’ve taken the time to evaluate every aspect and it’s been a good drawing point for our city. We’ve had numerous compliments.”
Councilman Joe Pampinto, who has been vocal about controlling spending at the city’s newest asset, said repairing the ponds is a necessary step in developing the type course he and other city leaders envision.
“The reality is, we thought one pond would cost at least what these two ponds are going to cost,” he said. “My opinion is we need to go ahead, do this and get the course where it can start at least breaking even.”
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.