Rain boots aren’t typical golf attire, but if you’ve tried to play a round at Foxboro Golf Course in the past few years, you might have wished you had a pair.
That’s because some of the north side fairways on the course have been flooded, and course owner Brook Schmitt believes the village bears some responsibility to fix it.
The Village Board agreed Monday to a series of steps officials say will hopefully alleviate the flooding, which is suspected to be caused in part due to two overflowing stormwater ponds, owned by the village and located on the course.
The fixes include paying for a temporary pump, possibly installing a gravity pipeline to reduce the ponds’ level and starting on an engineering study of the ponds.
Village officials had heard complaints before that the flooding might be partly caused by runoff from the Foxboro Golf Estates development that borders the golf course east of County Hwy. MM and Wolfe Street, and they also figured the increased amount of rainfall that has hit the Oregon area in the last few years played a part.
What came as a surprise to public works director Jeff Rau and assistant Gary Disch was that two of the ponds that have had flooding issues on the course are the responsibility of the village, and maintenance of the two had been neglected for many years.
“When this was developed, there must have been an agreement between the golf course people at the time and the developers here,” Rau said during Monday’s meeting. “I guess they looked at it and said golf courses need ponds, and we need stormwater ponds for our development, what if we get an easement and put our ponds on your land?”
The board agreed to follow the steps suggested by Rau and to start the process for creating a long-term solution.
Schmitt said he has been trying to get the village to help for a long time and said if steps to solve the problem aren’t taken soon, the course would not be able to continue to operate.
“I want people to understand that this isn’t a new issue, this is something we’ve been going back and forth on for about three years,” Schmitt said at a public works committee meeting May 29. “I’ve always likened it to drowning – I don’t care who throws me the rope to save my life, I just hope someone does. We literally cannot operate.”
What the course is experiencing on the eighth fairway is “a perfect storm of sorts,” Rau wrote in his letter to the board.
Neither of the two ponds was designed with an outlet structure, pipe or overflow spillway, which indicates that the original design may have assumed those ponds would be capable of handling all of the water entering the pond. That is no longer the case, as when the ponds fill after a significant rain event, the water pours onto the course.
Rau blamed “unprecedented precipitation over the past several years, high groundwater tables saturating low lying areas, poorly draining clay soils and the lack of an overland flow route out of the drainage basin.”
Finding a long-term solution could take some time, and the board agreed to start with preparing an estimate for a study by village engineering firm Ruekert-Mielke that might help it determine how much of the responsibility belongs with the village and whether there is even a long-term solution.
“I am continually reminded daily about how much our village and Dane County have been affected by the record breaking precipitation,” Rau wrote in his summary letter. “We should act cautiously and prudently to help resolve matters that affect our residents and area businesses.”
The more imminent problem was saving the course from financial damage this summer. To do that, the village started with taking care of the ponds’ maintenance.
Rau said the village learned “very recently” those were its responsibility. He said the village engineer and golf course representatives walked the course and took note of various maintenance requirements and that those will be taken care of in June.
The Village Board on Monday also agreed to pay for a temporary pump to help alleviate the current flooding problems and to reimburse Schmitt for electrical and connection costs for temporarily pumping water out of the course.
Village trustee Cory Horton, a former public works director for the City of Fitchburg, cautioned that the temporary solution might cause a problem somewhere else. But Rau disagreed, saying the amount of water that would be pumped off the course is not significant enough to put a strain on the village’s sewer system.
The village also is looking into constructing a potential gravity pipeline that would be shared, both in usage and in cost, by the surrounding condominiums and the golf course and could be part of the long-term solution. The inlet box would allow water to flow into the box and away from the golf course.
Monday, the board approved obtaining design and bidding documents for both, with preliminary costs from engineers estimated at $70,000 or more.