City pulls back COVID relief money for golf course clubhouse after community backlash and 5 INVESTIGATES report

Eric Rasmussen
Updated: December 14, 2020 10:14 PM
Created: December 14, 2020 10:02 PM

In a sudden reversal Monday night, Forest Lake city councilmembers voted to pull back federal pandemic relief money that they had committed to a new clubhouse on the city-owned Castlewood Golf Course.

The city will have to find another source of money for the project and will look to use the $150,000 in CARES Act funding elsewhere. The money is 10 percent of the total federal relief funds Forest Lake received.

During the council meeting, Forest Lake City Administrator Patrick Casey advised council members to make the change.

"Hindsight's 2020 obviously," Casey said. "I think it's something the council should reconsider. It's not the best use for the CARES Act and we should rescind the cost of using CARES Act money to build the building."

City gets public backlash for spending federal COVID relief money on golf course clubhouse

City council members, including Mayor Mara Bain, directed staff to determine whether the money can now be used to help local non-profit organizations that applied for assistance but were initially denied.

"I would prefer to see that happen than us using those funds for overhead charges or other things where there might be city-type expenses. I think that's part of what we owe the community at this point," Bain said during the meeting.

During an interview with 5 INVESTIGATES last week, Bain defended the council's original decision to use the federal funds to build a new clubhouse, but signaled that she would be open to making a change after receiving a wave of backlash from the community.

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