Chamber: City takeover of golf course grills bad for business

A recommendation by the city of Grand Junction that it take over a food contract from a private business owner got some push-back Tuesday from the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

At tonight’s Grand Junction City Council meeting, council members will be asked to consider whether Two Rivers Convention Center should be awarded the contract for food and beverage service at Pi&#241on Grill, a restaurant at the city-owned Tiara Rado Golf Course. The contract currently is held by Steve Hoefer but is up for renewal in February.

Members of the chamber’s board are protesting the city’s recommendation, saying it would be poor form for the city to take business away from the private sector.

“We think it’s important that we represent small businesses and individuals. They may not have the time or the voice or may not be comfortable standing up to government,” said the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, Diane Schwenke.

It makes no difference that neither Pi&#241on Grill nor another local bidder for the contract, Venema, a company owned by Travis Venema, is a member of the chamber, Schwenke said.

“This is a philosophical issue for us,” she said. “As one of our board members said, ‘How can we not do this?’ “

Previously, the chamber protested the city’s takeover of ambulance services and a city requirement that residents in newly annexed areas use the city’s trash services. The city did get into the trash-hauling business. However, newly annexed residents can chose the trash service of their choice.

“The chamber has a clear policy guideline of opposing government competition with the private sector,” Schwenke said in a news release. “In this case, there were two private entities also bidding for the contract, so our course was pretty clear.”

According to a city staff report, Two Rivers Convention Center received the highest scores in categories of written proposal, food tasting and interviews by a selection committee mostly of city staff. The staff report recommended that Two Rivers be awarded the contract also because it detailed a plan to increase food and beverage options at Lincoln Park Golf Course.


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