Golf course architect David McLay Kidd presented an updated design for the Jackson Flat Golf Course to the Kane County Water Conservancy District (KCWCD) Board of Directors at last week’s meeting.

The new plan proposes converting the old gravel quarry into a three to four acre pond for emergency water storage in case of a drought and to enhance the esthetics of the course.

Another modification to the routing plan opens up space for future overnight accommodation. One of Kidd’s preliminary concept designs includes two hotels and 10 cabins. A second concept consists of one hotel and 17 cabins with two roads offering more privacy for guests. Cabins at the Bandon Dunes are two stories and have eight rooms per cabin. The lodging would be located south of Kaneplex Drive.

Finally, the short course location was moved to avoid disturbing archeological sites. KCWCD is looking into acquiring an additional 17 acres of private land on the north side of Kaneplex Drive for the short course.

KCWCD entered into a $15,750 contract with Z. Gordon Davidson & Associates, Inc., a California consulting company, for a market analysis for “the proposed 18-hole golf course, lodging and supporting clubhouse amenities.”

Z. Gordon Davidson “is a licensed real estate broker and appraiser who specializes in golf and resort properties,” according to the company website. He has provided consulting and valuation services to over 100 golf courses. 

Davidson toured the site last week and will be visiting similar types of golf course properties in the area. 

There are 15 golf courses in the St. George-Hurricane area. Eleven of these are public courses. Moreover, Mesquite, Nevada has eight golf courses. The Lake Powell National Golf Course is located in Page, Arizona. 

The potential markets for the golf course will be St. George, Mesquite, Salt Lake City, and elsewhere. Noel said Salt Lake City “is definitely one of the main markets we are trying to capture.” 

Davidson said that the final report will look at “what we are seeing in the market place, nationally, regionally and locally. Here are our conclusions. We will get that information based on actual performances of other properties that have been sharing that data. So it is not a guess. We will summarize that and include it into our analysis and into what will be called a pro forma on the Jackson Flat Golf Course.” 

Sky Chaney, President of the Taxpayer Association of Kane County, said “it sounds like Mike [Noel] is arranging for a report to promote the golf course.  This won’t be adequate for protecting taxpayers from the financial risks associated with this project.”

KCWCD Executive Director Mike Noel answered, “Yes, these are tax dollars that we are talking about. We are talking about TRT tax and restaurant tax, and the possibility of a tax increment. But that again is money that would come from tourism.” He added, “We are not planning on raising anyone’s property taxes.” 

KCWCD is asking Kane County for $200,000 a year in transient room tax (TRT) funds. The water district is also pursuing additional avenues for financing. Noel talked to Aaron Langston, Deputy Assistant Director with the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, (SITLA) regarding SITLA investing in the golf course.  

KCWCD is also looking into tax increment financing (TIF), where Kanab City would refund sales taxes on golf course merchandise, drinks and food to support the golf course development.  

Irrigation specialist Brent Harvey gave a presentation about the irrigation system he will be designing. Irrigation will be between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to minimize water loss. The system will be designed for a peak demand of 2,400 gallons per minute.

Overall, the golf course and facilities are projected to need 350 acre feet per year. Architect Kidd expects the water use to be around 700,000 gallons per day in the summer months from May through August. Harvey said that the system will “only put the amount of water that is needed, not one drop more.”

Kidd said, “You have a lot of stars aligning here, with beautiful landscape, perfect soil and the ability to have water.” He continued, “there are a lot of beautiful places that could have great golf courses in the United States, but they have no water.”

The golf course is expected to be completed by Labor Day next year. 

Noel reported that Utah State Auditor approved the KCWCD 2020 financial audit. Water sale revenues are $2.3 million this year, and property tax revenues are expected to be more than $1 million.

KCWCD is projected to have an annual deficit of $2.1 million in 2021. The previous year the deficit was $1.9 million. 

A Kane County resident asked the board what the status was regarding payments from Blue Castle Holdings Inc. In 2007, KCWCD entered into a contract with Blue Castle to sell 30,000 acre feet of water, equal to 9.8 billion gallons per year, for a proposed nuclear power plant on the Green River in San Juan County. Under the contract, Blue Castle would pay KCWCD $100,000 per year in pre-operational payments starting in 2016, and $1 million per year after the nuclear plant becomes operational. After signing the contract, Noel stated: “This lease will provide much needed revenue to our citizens’ needs and help keep our tax burden lower,” according to a news release.

Dirk Clayson, private consultant to KCWCD, said that Blue Castle has “asked us to modify our agreement.” 

Noel added that, “We are still honoring that contract. At this point we are not asking for the $300,000 that [Blue Castle] owes us. There will come a time when they will either pay or we will cancel the contract.” San Juan County had a similar contract with Blue Castle that the county recently cancelled.

Another proposed project currently on hold is Cove Reservoir. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, withdrew their Environmental Assessment (EA) last month. Instead, the NRCS plans to move ahead with a more extensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS).

The proposed Cove Reservoir would divert water from the East Fork of the Virgin River. According to Noel, “Washington County will be using the majority of the capacity for their area.” 

Norm Evenstad, NRCS Assistance State Conservationist, said the project purpose and needs may expand, if the sponsors wish to add additional project tasks, such as changing irrigation practices away from flood irrigation in the Mt. Carmel area. Evenstad also noted that the PL-566 program does allow for municipal and industrial (M&I) uses where it makes sense. 

Noel told the board that, “it is still a tremendous project. We see a real value to Kane County.”

The EIS will include a scoping process with a public comment period. A draft EIS will then be prepared for public review before the final EIS is issued. The EIS review is expected to take two years.