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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Liberty Lake remodel on track

Snow a nuisance, but work continues

Liberty Lake Golf Course’s $4.5 million remodeling project is back on schedule.

And barring any more freakish weather – like the record-breaking snowfall that buried the region this winter – the popular county owned layout should be ready to unveil the results of its extreme makeover in the spring of 2010.

“Our contract calls for everything to be done by Sept. 1,” said James Carroll, who is supervising the construction phase of the remodeling project for Wadsworth Golf Construction Company. “We’re hoping that by the first of June we’re planting grass and that within 60 days of that, the planting is complete.

“And at that point, we’re done with it.”

The course will then be handed over to Liberty Lake superintendent Todd Harper, who will be charged with nurturing the newly planted grass throughout the remainder of the fall and winter, in hopes of having the course ready to play by next April or May.

For the next 12 months, however, about all golfers can do is take an occasional drive past the 50-year-old layout and keep tabs on the progress Carroll and his staff are making on what is now a barren, moonscape-like parcel of dirt mounds and ponds.

By the time the facelift is complete, Carroll will have moved a substantial amount of earth while installing a new irrigation system, over 20 additional sand traps and new cart paths. In addition, the redesign submitted by Phelps/Atkinson Golf Design, which is overseeing the entire project, will include the rerouting of five holes, the addition of three new ponds and nearly 200 new trees, and improved drainage surfaces for the 18 new bentgrass greens and bluegrass fairways.

According to Carroll, his company’s construction efforts were about a month ahead of schedule prior to a planned mid-winter shutdown that was expected to last only a month or so. But because of the massive amount of snow that was dumped on the region in December and early January – and the freezing temperatures that prolonged its stay – the project fell behind schedule and Carroll has been playing catch-up ever since.

“It’s been a little slower than we anticipated getting rolling again,” he admitted. “But we’ve been able to resume working with a small group now, and we’re right back on schedule, or maybe even a little ahead.”

With most of the snow now melted, Carroll has been supervising a skeleton crew of 10-12 workers, which he soon plans to expand to 30 – the same number that was employed from the time the remodel began last September until the winter break.

In the past few weeks, irrigation pipes have been installed on two more of the holes and the greens on those holes have been contoured and prepared to receive the sandy soil mixture in which the bentgrass will be planted. Carroll’s crew has also been doing some touch-up work on the grading – 95 percent of which was completed last fall, along with some general cleanup.

Two of the four ponds, one of which previously existed, were dug, lined and filled with water before the snow hit, and the other two were recently lined and are currently awaiting installation of rock shorelines before being filled.

About one-third of the 130,000 linear feet of irrigation expected to be used for the remodel has already been installed on six of the holes.

“In about two or three weeks, we’ll be flushing those lines and installing sprinkler heads and stuff like that on those holes,” Carroll said. “But right now, it’s primarily just pipes in the ground.”

The construction catch-up efforts have been aided, Carroll added, by the composition of Liberty Lakes’ soil.

“We’re fortunate in that probably the western two-thirds of the golf course is a real sandy soil,” he explained. “So, as it quits snowing, or the snow melts, or it quits raining, we’re pretty much able to get right back to work the next day, because the soil soaks up the water so well.”

Carroll, who works out of Buckeye, Ariz., said he has encountered few, if any, construction surprises so far. And if the project stays on schedule, he expects the architect from the Colorado-based Phelps/Atkinson design team to start making more frequent trips to Spokane to oversee the remaining construction work.

“I think everybody is going to be really happy with it,” Carroll said of the county’s ambitious remodeling venture. “It’s definitely going to be a huge improvement over what we had when we started.

“I know it’s an inconvenience for the course to be shut down, but I think once it’s finished, everyone will agree it was all worthwhile.”

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