Gunflint Hills golf course in flux.
Jul 02, 2018 08:46PM
There was a full house during the public comment period at the city council meeting on Wednesday, June 27. About 20 people were there and seven people spoke, sometimes passionately in defense of Gunflint Hills Golf Course Superintendent Mike Kunshier, upon his retirement, stating that they felt he had been underappreciated in his role at the golf course for 27 years.
Kunshier submitted his resignation last October and had agreed to stay on through this golf season, to help train a replacement. However, last week he submitted a letter of resignation, effective July 10.
Kunshier spoke and then a number of golfers, praised Kunshier and took the city to task for not completing a job assessment for his job for many years and for not recognizing the work he has done at Gunflint Hills. Several said he has treated the golf course as his own. Golfers appealed to the council to do whatever they can to keep him on staff through the season.
One supporter even offered to make a donation to cover the expense of keeping Kunshier on staff, perhaps as a consultant.
Golfers were also concerned about rumors that the city was considering closing Gunflint Hills altogether, something Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux responded to immediately, stating there was no plan to close the course.
Although golfers said they were glad to hear that, they were still concerned about how the golf course would function without Kunshier on board. They urged the council to develop some sort of transitional plan which includes keeping Kunshier involved for the rest of the season.
Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux thanked all of the golfers for speaking up and letting the community know about the value of Gunflint Hills. He thanked them for being informed on the matter, especially the understanding that the golf course is not a money making enterprise for the city.
He then attempted to answer some questions, noting first that whether Kunshier stays on as superintendent or not, is not up to the city, as it was Kunshier who submitted his retirement earlier than planned.
Arrowsmith DeCoux said when the city learned that Kunshier was unhappy with the fact that other city managerial positions had been evaluated—and that others had received an increase in pay—the city attempted to find a solution.
As the conversation wrapped up, golfers thanked the city for looking for ways to keep the Gunflint Hills Golf Course viable, but several stressed the importance of keeping the current superintendent on staff.
The matter came up later in the meeting, during council reports with councilors Anton Moody, Johnathon Steckelberg and Kelly Swearingen expressing surprise at this turn of events. Councilor Tim Kennedy was absent.
Swearingen said she shared the dismay of the citizens who questioned why the golf course superintendent had gone so long without a job description update. She said that needs to change.
In the short-term, the council is faced with the problem of filling the golf course superintendent vacancy. The mayor agreed to reach out to Kunshier once again.
And city administrator Mike Roth said it is now back to the drawing board with the applicants for the position, as the council agreed it will take a special skill set to take over golf course operations without the training from the current superintendent.
The matter will be on the next city council meeting, scheduled for what is now Mike Kunshier’s last day as golf course superintendent, July 10.
Follow this link to listen to a report on the WTIP website.