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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 15 2013

Work could begin at Oxbow Country Club next spring to build eight now holes, clubhouse

FARGO – The timeline is coming into focus for a renovated Oxbow (N.D.) Country Club. Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo said Monday work could begin as early as next spring on the community’s ring dike and that would include the golf portion of the project.

The plan is to build eight new holes and a new clubhouse on farmland located just south of the current course. Vanyo said the golf course renovation and ring dike will be built even if federal approval for the $1.8 billion diversion does not materialize.

The entire project is expected to take between 2½ to 3 years.

“It’s starting to feel real,” said Oxbow general manager Joel Livingood. “It’s starting to happen and take shape.”

There are seemingly endless details yet to be finalized, including the configuration of the course. Livingood said indications are a drawing released to The Forum last week – called “Concept A” – will not go forward because the club wants No. 9 green close to the new clubhouse.

Moreover, he said Bruce Charlton, the president and chief design officer for the golf course architectural firm of Robert Trent Jones II, has yet to see the final plot of land inside the levee.

“The footprint of the levee has changed,” Livingood said. “Now there’s more land inside of it.”

Funding for the $65 million Oxbow ring dike, which includes the course renovation, is being shared equally from state and local funds. The entire golf course project, however, will come from the $32.5 million local share.

Vanyo said the state made it clear its funding share would not include the golf course. “And we respect that,” he said.

He said 44 homes will need to be bought out and one option for those homeowners is to take a lot around the new course. Oxbow residents voted for the ring dike by a 75 percent approval rate.

Vanyo said building the ring dike even though the diversion has yet to be fully approved makes sense because Fargo would probably put up a barrier on the south end of town in the event of a 500-year flood. That temporary levee could back the water up and flood Oxbow.

“We would like to start construction as soon as the design is ready,” Vanyo said.

He said the construction timeline for the course will keep it from being shut down while work is being done.

“We want to ensure the course never has any down time,” Vanyo said. “That’s the tricky thing.”

That would mean removal of six holes on the current front nine would not happen until the latter stages of the project. Those six are on the eastern edge of the current course and are the lowest elevation-wise along with No. 18.

“The way we have it structured in our talks with the Diversion Authority, our course will be fully operational until the new (holes) are done,” Livingood said. “We won’t see any dirt moved on our course until the new course and clubhouse is ready.”

Another reason, Livingood said, is some of the dirt for the levee may come from the digging of ponds by the new holes.

“There’s a lot happening at once,” Livingood said. “There are so many pieces to the puzzle. Obviously, there will be a lot of feedback back and forth between membership, the board, staff and Robert Trent Jones. All will be involved so we can have something that is just as good or better than what we have now.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia